I’D like to make a plea to the BBC, ITV, Sky, BT and all the other television stations who, for some reason, seem to think that we, the viewers, don’t want to see fresh presenting blood being injected onto our screens.
It used to be the case that, when a man hit 65 or a woman 60, they’d retire from work gracefully—vacating their jobs and, in doing so, allowing the younger generation of presenters to naturally step into their shoes and climb another rung on the career ladder. Not anymore.
Of course, due to successive governments screwing up the UK’s finances, the landscape has changed and people are now having to work for longer before they can claim their pensions. A very unfair situation, but one we have to accept.
However, I don’t think we have to accept the ageing television presenters and news readers populating our screens who, it seems, will die in situ if not removed beforehand!
I cannot for one minute believe there aren’t thousands of young people out there—all over the world, in fact—who wouldn’t give their eye teeth for the chance to work in television.
If ‘experience’ is the thing predominantly keeping older presenters employed, how about we concoct some kind of compromise. How about we move the ‘oldies’ upstairs, a la football managers, and have them impart their wisdom and experience to the new presenting crop from behind the scenes? That way everyone moves forward—and we viewers enjoy fresh faces.
Hearing recently the price of a UK television licence is set to rise again in April, I really feel now is the perfect time to have a ‘spring clean’ throughout the TV companies. Give young people a chance—before they’re too old to launch a presenting career and essentially ‘miss the boat’.
I don’t want to name names, but one male presenter I used to live near as a child—who I know has several more years on the clock than me—looks like he should be retired, but is still going! And I simply can’t believe there isn’t another younger person out there who could do his job at least as well, if not better.
I don’t believe for a minute any of them cannot afford to retire, or at least take a back seat—not on the salaries they are being paid.
So what’s going on?
I simply don’t understand TV companies. I get they have to comply with certain rules in relation to diversity when it comes to making their employee selections. But surely we, the viewers, are entitled to see fresh and younger faces on our screens—and spread right across all genres.
Approaching this from another angle, I wonder if any of these ‘ageing’ presenters have even considered how they come across on our screens? Some of them appear on a daily basis, and I have to own up to often changing channels to avoid seeing them.
There is also the “same old, same old” aspect we get—more from presenters than news readers. The repeated one-liners and corny, cringeworthy jokes which seem to be accepted as ‘the norm’ by us, the British public. We are, in my opinion, far too accepting of the status quo—or perhaps simply too comfortable with familiarity?
So, what’s the answer?
The simple solution would surely be to set an age limit at which a presenter is required to vacate and ‘retire’ their position. When they hit the chosen mark, they’re out! And that would apply to both men and women, so there’s no sexism.
And if they really can’t contemplate a life without work, there’s always radio. Listening to a nice mature voice coming from the airwaves can be a joyous experience—and we don’t have to see the ‘wrinkly’ behind it (webcams are optional).
Having said that, I do think the regular injection of fresh blood and new talent should also apply to radio DJs and presenters. It comes across as often being like some kind of exclusive ‘club’ on the airwaves; i.e. if you’ve worked on stage or screen, or in TV/sport, you’re almost guaranteed a job on radio as well—no matter how old or specifically qualified you are!
I listen quite a lot and could count on one hand the station presenters who don’t appear on or in other mediums. How many jobs do you need for goodness sake? Just because you do an ‘alright’ job on television, doesn’t mean you’re necessarily suited to radio—and vice-versa.
And more seriously, if we want to engage our youth and inspire the next generation to take an interest in the world they’re growing up to be responsible for, then maybe younger faces presenting the facts and figures to them via their TVs, tablets or smartphones—faces closer in age who they could more readily relate to—would be a very positive thing.
When I was in my late teens to early twenties, I certainly wouldn’t have engaged with or been enchanted by a presenter who appeared to be as old as my grandfather—even if he was in black and white!
I don’t want to be unkind, but I think it’s high time those wielding the power within media companies should take a more considered overview of their ageing presenters—and give serious consideration to a change in policy.
Our talented buds need the chance to bloom!
Until next time
Granny Flapjax X