Ridiculous TV wages

I used to be something of a TV addict, which was possibly something of an achievement as I don’t have any interest in any of the slops such as the soaps or reality (have you ever seen anything less realistic?) shows. Probably more of a drama, factual, documentary, comedy person, this used to include quiz and game shows until they were taken over as showcases for nobodies that wanted “5 minutes of fame”.

As it is, I don’t even bother to wire in any of my video recorders into the system any longer, and I used to have four (together with a home cinema system to control them all), and just watch what comes along when it suits – and that generally means something from the past, probably the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s. That’s probably the period before the talentless discovered they could become famous by belching, farting, or smashing themselves in the face with a hammer.

Channel 4’s Countdown was a nice simple bolthole that one could take refuge in, and has largely avoided most of the irritating jazzing-up that producers seem to think is necessary with each new series. The only thing it really suffered from was the guest commentator, or celebrity, although the mild nature of the show at least ensured they appeared much as themselves, rather than their persona, so they were largely bearable.

I recall Carol Vorderman’s first appearance on TV, as a presenter on Tomorrow’s World, soon deserted. She kept on popping up, and we learnt she had earned millions from writing books years and years ago, so she’s never been short of a penny or two, or in need of another paying job. But, that didn’t stop her, and it seems she’s been coining it in for 26 years on Countdown.

Now that she’s leaving the show – and there seems to be all sorts of nastiness being stirred up around this – her wages have come into the news: Vorderman’s agent said on Saturday that the star felt forced to step down from the show when she was told to take a 90% pay cut from a salary understood to be in the region of £1m. The reason appears to be in dispute, but no-one had jumped in to dismiss the figure given.

I don’t think I’ll be watching Countdown again – whether it’s Vorderman or a replacement, the idea of someone being paid £1 million per year for placing nine cards into a grid a few times over the course of the programme, occasionally solving a simple mental arithmetic puzzle, and laughing on cue at the host’s jokes is just something I can’t take. And this million is on top of whatever is still coming in from the books, and any other exhorbitant fees for the other TV programmes and appearences she makes, and any celebrity jollies she’ll pick up a penny for showing her face at.

Nice work (that’s work?) if you can get, as they say.

If she enjoys the job so much, she can easily afford to do it for nothing, or at a nurse’s wage level. I don’t fly the flag of nurse’s pay, but it’s a handy comparison in terms of reward with regard to the value of the individual concerned.

To reuse the word “ridiculous”, that’s the only way to describe a comment made by Kathryn Apanowicz (Richard Whiteley’s ex-partner) who said of a 90% cut in that £1 million wage: “She was even contemplating taking this ridiculous figure that they offered her”.

I could probably be talked into shuffling some cards for £100,000 per annum.

It will be interesting to see if the truth about whatever is going wrong with the programme surfaces, since the current host, Des O’Connor, also handed his notice in at almost the same time, and I thought that was something of a coincidence – and started waiting for the conspiracy theory to appear in the news.


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