A lifetime achievement award for Joan Bakewell
On Sunday, Joan Bakewell, 86, will receive the BAFTA Television Fellowship Award for a lifetime’s contribution to broadcasting. Often name-checked as the ultimate role model for women in the media industry, Bakewell has over 50 years experience. After graduating in Economics from Cambridge, she became the only female presenter on the BBC’s 1960s arts show Late Night Line-Up and now in her ninth decade co-presents Sky Arts’ Portrait Artist of the Year with Stephen Mangan. Throughout her journalism career, Bakewell has battled sexism and inequality and seen significant changes in the predominantly male culture; while she praises Newsnight’s all-female team of presenters, she acknowledges that there’s still work to be done to reduce the Gender Pay Gap and further improve the representation of older women. ‘There are shockingly fewer older women in television,’ she said recently, ‘By contrast, there’s a certain older male broadcaster type I call the ‘buccaneer’, who you often see out in deserts or on tanks, who are craggy and lined and viewed as all the more interesting for it. Sadly, there are few female equivalents.’
In a Grazia magazine essay, the broadcaster reflects on her career and the challenges women still face in the #MeToo era. Here’s her conclusion:
‘The best way for women to change television is to be good at their job – and not give up. I’ve been sacked a number of times…but I stayed in the race and am still broadcasting now. There are so many fantastic young women coming through who are part of a generation that won’t stand for inequality of pay or opportunities. And there are brilliant women in their fifties and sixties, such as news correspondent Orla Guerlin and Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark, whose experience is invaluable. If all these women continue, and receive the rewards and opportunities they deserve, we’ll have something approaching true equality.’
The BAFTA award is a fitting tribute to a broadcast pioneer. Three cheers for Joan Bakewell.