The fact that it made front page news said it all. Julia Somerville being invited back to read the BBC evening news at the age of 63 shouldn’t warrant a mention.
At least not in a world where your age doesn’t matter. But sadly, despite all manner of well-meaning initiatives and legislation, age discrimination it is still with us – albeit in a subtle form.
Towards the end of this month I will become something I thought I would never be—a pensioner.
Time was when I reckoned I would be lucky if I reached 30, never mind 65.
But here I am, like most of my generation healthier and wealthier than my parents were when they were my age.
And, exceptionally for my business, I am still employed.
I cannot think of a single man who started working in television alongside me who is still in a media job.
So I can’t complain.
But others can. Last week-end I met a producer and director, now in his late fifties, who despite being extremely well experienced and well thought of, hasn’t worked for years.
"But you don’t have to put your age on your CV do you?" I asked.
"No" he replied, "but just by looking at what you have done they can tell."
Another friend, in his sixties, reckons he’s applied for more than 150 jobs in the computer business without success.
Age of course is never mentioned. Certainly not put in writing. But behind every rejection there has to be at least the suspicion that it is their advancing years that have set them back. That their experience counts for nothing
In my business, indeed any business these days where appearance counts, it can be even worse for women .
Witness the case of 53-year- old Miriam O’Reilly who won her case for age discrimination after being dropped from the BBC’s rural affairs programme Countryfile.
Now with the re-instatement of Julia Somerville and the higher profile being given to Rip Off Britain presenters like Gloria Hunniford, it seems Auntie Beeb is, commendably, having a change of heart.
No–one has the right to go on forever. Not even dear old Brucie.
And in complaining about a nation that seems to have become obsessed with ‘yoof’ you run a real danger of being dubbed a boring old ... fellow.
But in many respects we have. It is a culture, a mind set, created in part by an advertising industry that for years believed the only people that really mattered commercially were the young .
The media followed suit. One producer I worked with didn’t even want stories about old people on air.
It is nonsense. Even in these financially stricken times us post-war baby boomers have more disposable income than any other group.
Economically we are a force to be reckoned with. And, given that one in six of us will apparently live to be 100, we are not going away.
In the market place and in the employment field grumpy old men – and women – have a lot to offer.
Article from Manchester Evening News