Casualty star Tom Chambers has sparked outrage, after appearing to defend the gender pay gap at the BBC.
A report published last week showed that women in the corporation were paid significantly less than their male counterparts. Only one in three of the people on the BBC’s top earners’ list were women.
But in what some people slammed as outdated comments, actor Tom was quoted in The Sun as saying that many men also have to pay for their wives and families.
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While male talent including Chris Evans and Graham Norton were paid upwards of one or two million pounds a year, Claudia Winkleman – the highest paid female – earns only £450k.
But former Strictly winner Tom Chambers appeared to defend the corporation’s actions, and was quoted as saying men were paid more as often they are the breadwinners and are also supporting wives and children.
“Many men’s salaries aren’t just for them, it’s for their wife and children too,” said the 40-year-old.
“My wife works really hard as a stay-at-home mum, but I’m the only one bringing in a salary for our family.”
Tom, who plays doctor Sam Strachan in the long-running BBC medical drama, also defended his pal Derek Thompson who – with a salary of between £350 and 400k – is the channel’s highest paid actor.
Tom said that Derek, who has played nurse manager Charlie Fairhead since the show started, definitely deserved his paycheck.
“It’s like being a footballer – you earn your credits,” he said.
“I’ve just done six months on Casualty, but Derek has done 31 years of service.”
“That means arriving in the dark at 6am and leaving when it’s dark at 9pm. It’s demanding stuff.”
Speaking at a book launch for his former Strictly partner Camilla Sacre-Dallerup, Tom also stood up for Chris Evans, who with £2.2million earned the biggest salary of all BBC staff last year.
“[He] has been a household name for 20 years and his Radio 2 figures are outstanding.”
Following extensive criticism, the entertainer has apologised, claiming his comments were taken out of context in the original report.
“I am completely mortified by the stories that have run today and didn’t mean to offend anyone by my comments which have been taken out of context from a conversation I had at a book launch,” he said.
“I in no way advocate the gender pay gap and I was explaining that I thought it had stemmed from that past, and shouldn’t be how things are now. I truly believe that change needs to happen.”
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Following the BBC report, some of the broadcasters most high-profile female personalities wrote an open letter to the director general, Tony Hall.
Signed by 45 women, including Clare Balding, Gabby Logan, Emily Maitlis and Victoria Derbyshire, the letter called on the BBC’s Director General Tony Hall to act now and address what they felt was “discrimination.”
Mr Hall has since said the corporation will “accelerate” their efforts to end the gender pay gap.