Jeremy Vine has revealed he chose to take a pay cut after learning his female BBC colleagues were paid far less than him.
The presenter said he was “appalled” to discover the gap between his salary and that of the likes of Emily Maitlis and Claudia Winkleman when the BBC first disclosed star salaries in 2017.
The 54-year-old was listed as earning between £700,000 and £749,000.
Winkleman earned less than £500,000 and Maitlis was on less than £150,000.
Maitlis, who has presented Newsnight since 2006 and is Vine’s election night co-host, later said she had gone “on strike” from the BBC until the pay gap was addressed. She now earns between £260,000-£264,999.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Vine said: “I should say I really was appalled at the disparity with my female colleagues, because I did not know anything about that.”
He explained that his 2016/17 earnings covered five presenting jobs – on Radio 2, Points of View, Panorama, Eggheads and the BBC’s election coverage.
“That’s quite a lot of work. Each of those was negotiated separately and this was the first time anyone had added them all up,” he said. “It’s not like a salary. You’re paid for these jobs and if you don’t do them you’re not paid. But to see it was a painful thing.”
The Radio 2 presenter said he had subsequently chosen to take a pay cut. “No-one said, ‘You have to take it.’ I just wanted to take one. My contract was coming up. They clearly wanted me to take one. I can’t remember who raised it first.”
His BBC salary is now in the £290,000-£294,000 bracket, although he is doing less work for the corporation and earns a separate salary from Channel 5 for his daytime talk show.
The most recent list of BBC star salaries features three female presenters – Winkleman, Zoe Ball and Vanessa Feltz – in the top 10.
Vine said he would leave it to others to assess the BBC’s progress towards gender parity.
“My female colleagues have got together a very powerful WhatsApp group and they’re campaigning, led by [Woman’s Hour presenter] Jane Garvey and one or two others, so I’m just following that lead,” he said.
“If they were to say it’s sorted, I would believe it’s sorted. They haven’t said that yet.”