The sad continued reality of the pay gap

  

The sad continued reality of the pay gap

Jane Lythell worked as a television producer and commissioning editor before becoming Deputy Director of the BFI and Chief Executive of BAFTA. Her latest novel, Behind Her Back, out in paperback in February, follows the rivalries, duplicity and toxic masculinity behind the scenes at a morning show. 
 
Lythell worked for TV-am, the TV company that ran Good Morning Britain, the flagship ITV breakfast show, before she was appointed the first female chief executive of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) in 1998, where she discovered discrepancies between her pay and that of her male predecessors after her departure. 

 
“I realised after I left Bafta that the person in my position before me, and he was male, had been on a much higher salary,” she said. “I had been headhunted and went there as the first ever female chief exec, I thought I was on a good salary and it was good, just not as good as the men seemed to be earning.
 
“When the BBC pay story came out recently, it very much rang bells for me because there’s very much an attitude that as a female working in the industry that you should be grateful. Women really need to stick up for themselves. It’s a wake-up call for the agents and for the women in the BBC,” she added.
 
TV-am was launched in 1983, with Anna Ford, Michael Parkinson and Angela Rippon among its presenters.
“It was absolute chaos at the start,” Lythell said. “We had tiny ratings and people were in a blind state of panic. I started as a junior journalist and within two years I had moved up to be a programme editor as so many people had left.”
 
While with TV-am, Lythell watched a young Kay Burley and Lorraine Kelly begin their careers as regional reporters and says that it was clear from the outset that both would go on to have highly successful TV careers. Of Burley, who has been a Sky News presenter since 1988, Lythell said: “Her ambition was always evident. There was a sailing disaster that happened and Kay came in with her bags packed and told the editor she was ready to go on the story. Her drive meant she got to report on that when other more senior reporters, most of whom were male, didn’t.”
 
Lythell also spent time working as a programme editor for the Irish presenter Henry Kelly, who joined TV-am in 1983 and became a weekend presenter on Good Morning Britain.
 
Now an author, Lythell’s latest book, Behind Her Back, tells the story of a TV producer who experiences back-stabbing and inequality while working for a British station.
 
“It’s absolutely inspired by my experiences working in television,” Lythell said. “I write about the feverish atmosphere, the egos which crave the limelight and the sense of panic as editors scanned the daily ratings for breakfast television. That kind of career simply isn’t for the faint-hearted.”

Behind Her Back is out in paperback on 8th February.