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BBC rich list shows highest-earning stars including Zoe Ball and Graham Norton

Zoe Ball is about to waltz off with the title of the BBC’s official highest earner.

The Radio 2 star, who also co-hosts Strictly Come Dancing : It Takes Two, will knock Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker off the top of the league.

Gary, 59, was again named at the No1 spot on £1.75million – but he is taking a £400,000 pay cut.

A new five-year deal will reduce his pay to £1.35m with immediate effect.

Zoe, 49, earned £1.36m over the past year for hosting her Radio 2 breakfast show. She earns an extra fee – likely to be around £500,000 – for It Takes Two, which is not included in the figures.

The BBC’s new Director-General Tim Davie defended the star’s pay, despite her shedding nearly a million listeners within a year.

See the full league table at the bottom

Zoe Ball has been touted as the highest earning star at the BBC

He said: “Zoe is absolutely a broadcaster at the top of her game. She’s delivering over eight million listeners.

“I think we’re getting incredible value.” Zoe, who hosts It Takes Two with Rylan Clark-Neal, was quids in as her official pay soared by about a million pounds from the previous year.

But she and every other stars remain dwarfed by Graham Norton, 57.

Graham Norton’s earnings still dwarf that of his co-stars

His BBC earnings were yesterday put at £725,000 for his Radio 2 show and TV work, including Eurovision.

But this figure does not include the cash – £2m at least – he makes via his production company for hosting BBC1’s main chat show.

Wages made through BBC Studios, the Beeb’s commercial arm, which makes shows such as Strictly Come Dancing, Antiques Roadshow and Doctor Who, are not disclosed. Announcing his new deal, which keeps him on Match of the Day until 2025, Gary said: “I love working with the BBC, and am very proud to continue to be a part of their outstanding football team.”

The Director-General said: “We are hugely honoured to have a broadcaster of such brilliance at the BBC. This is a great example of giving audiences the best talent and the best value.”

He added that Gary’s social media activity – which has been criticised for expressing political views – had been discussed as part of the new deal.

Mr Davie said: “Gary knows he has responsibilities to the BBC in terms of his use of social media.

“Impartiality is the bedrock of the BBC. It’s critical people have total trust in the BBC.

“When you join the BBC you leave your party politics at the door.” Gary responded by tweeting: “BBC recognise that I tweet carefully and will continue to do so.”

Zoe Ball’s annual earnings are nine times that of the Prime Minister

Critics blasted the BBC for a rise in salaries of 3.5%, while it tries to slim down operations and after its decision to axe free TV licences for over-75s.

Some Beeb stars received huge pay increases amid a worsening financial outlook for the Corporation due to the pandemic and a shrinking income from the licence fee.

Fiona Bruce is boosted by £195,000 to about £450,000 for fronting Question Time. Her fee for Antiques Roadshow is not included in the figures.

Tim Davie is the Director General of the BBC

Newsnight host Emily Maitlis’ pay rose by more than £100,000 to about £370,000, while Radio 2 DJ Ken Bruce, Desert Island Discs host Lauren Laverne and broadcasters Tina Daheley, Scott Mills and Trevor Nelson also got pay rises. Mr Davie defended the salaries, saying top talent worked for the BBC “at a significant discount to what they’d get in the open market”.

He said it was unreasonable to expect the Beeb to stop paying certain presenters more than £1m. The wages of BBC stars who earnt over £150,000 in 2019/20 were published for the fourth year.

The Beeb, which said it must make extra savings of £125m this year due to the pandemic, has also made a swathe of job cuts in its news division as part of a previous savings drive.

Mr Davie backed the move for the BBC to stop giving free licences to over-75s unless they receive Pension Credit.

Calling it a “really tough decision”, he said: “[It] was driven by a balance of trying to ensure we protected the value people get from the BBC – because taking £700million out would have disastrous consequences – but also trying to get a fair solution.


“That is why we’ve gone for what we see as a properly balanced proposal. I have no plans to reverse that decision.” The BBC’s top earners also include Radio 2 DJ Steve Wright (£475,000), newsreader Huw Edwards (£465,00), radio presenter Vanessa Feltz (£405,000) and Lauren Laverne on £395,000.

Broadcaster Stephen Nolan is on around £390,000, with Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer earning about the same. Yesterday’s annual report, which was delayed by the pandemic, showed outgoing Director-General Tony Hall failed in his mission to end the gender pay gap by this year.

The male to female ratio among top earners is 55/45. And women are paid 6.2% less than male counterparts – a slight improvement on the previous year.

Salaries were published amid questions about how the BBC will be funded in future.

The licence fee model is guaranteed until December 2027, which is when the current charter ends. Decriminalisation of licence fee evasion could also be on the cards.

But the BBC warned switching to a civil system would cost the broadcaster over £200m per year.

BBC Top 20 earners 2019/20

1. Gary Lineker – £1,750,000-£1,754,999

Match of the Day, Premier League and FA Cup, Sports Personality of the Year

2018/2019: £1,750,000-£1,754,999

2. Zoe Ball – £1,360,000-£1,364,999

Radio 2’s Zoe Ball Breakfast Show

2018/2019: £370,000-£374,999

3. Graham Norton – £725,000-£729,999

Weekly show on Radio 2, a range of programmes and series, Bafta film and TV awards (not chat show)

2018/2019: £610,000-£614,999

4. Steve Wright – £475,000-£479,999

Radio 2’s Steve Wright in the Afternoon and Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs

2018/2019: £465,000-£469,999

5. Huw Edwards – £465,000-£469,999

News at Six and News at Ten, News Channel, election night and news specials

2018/2019: £490,000-£494,999

6. Fiona Bruce – £450,000-£454,999

Question Time and presenting on BBC One

2018/2019: £255,000-£259,999

7. Vanessa Feltz – £405,000-£409,999

Radio 2 Early Breakfast Show, Radio London Breakfast Show, Radio 2 cover

2018/2019: £355,000-£359,999

8. Lauren Laverne – £395,000 – £399,999

BBC 6 Music Breakfast Show, 6 Music Recommends, Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Mercury Music Prize

2018/2019: £305,000-£309,999

9. Alan Shearer – £390,000-£394,999

Match of the Day: Premier League and FA Cup

2018/2019: £440,000-£444,999

10. Stephen Nolan – £390,000-£394,999

The Nolan Show on Radio Ulster, Nolan Live on BBC One (Northern Ireland), The Stephen Nolan Show on 5 Live

2018/2019: £325,000-£329,999

11. Ken Bruce – £385,000-£389,999

Radio 2’s Mid Morning Show, Eurovision Song Contest, Radio 2 Live in Hyde Park

2018/2019: £280,000-£284,999

12. Emily Maitlis – £370,000-£374,999

Newsnight, BBC documentaries and election programme

2018/2019: £260,000-£264,999

13. Claudia Winkleman – £365,000-£369,999

Weekly show for Radio 2, a range of programmes (not Strictly)

2018/2019: £370,000-£374,999

14. Andrew Marr – £360,000-£364,999

The Andrew Marr Show, Radio 4’s Start the Week, Documentaries for BBC One and election night

2018/2019: £390,000-£394,999

15. Scott Mills – £345,000-£349,999

Radio 1’s The Scott Mills Show, Radio 5’s The Scott Mills and Chris Stark Show

2018/2019: £285,000-£289,999

16. George Alagiah – £325,000-£329,999

News at Six and News at Ten

2018/2019: £315,000-£319,999

17. Jeremy Vine – £320,000-£324,999

Daily show on Radio 2, election programme

2018/2019: £290,000-£294,999

18. Nicky Campbell – £300,000-£304,999

Radio 5 Live Breakfast Show, Your Call

2018/2019: £340,000-£345,999

19. Nick Robinson – £295,000-£299,999

Radio 4’s Today programme, Radio 4’s Political Thinking, Panorama on Brexit, election specials

2018/2019: £290,000-£294,999

20. Laura Kuenssberg – £290,000-£294,999

Political editor, election night, BBC Two documentaries

2018/2019: £250,000-£254,999

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