The 54-year-old will begin a new job as a presenter of BBC One’s Crimewatch Roadshow today, months after winning a landmark age discrimination case against the Corporation.
She described the BBC’s decision to drop her as a presenter of Countryfile in 2008 as “devastating” and said the process of taking her former employer to a tribunal had been “hellish”.
But O’Reilly said Mark Thompson, director general, had “apologised profusely” and given her his “personal assurances” that the culture of ageism at the BBC would change.
A London employment tribunal ruled in January that O’Reilly had been a victim of age discrimination when she and three other women in their forties and fifties were sacked in an overhaul of Countryfile, BBC One’s Rural Affairs show.
The presenter was awarded a six-figure compensation pay-out and was offered the chance to return to the BBC in a new role.
She will appear for the first time on Crimewatch Roadshow at 9.15am today alongside her co-presenter, Rav Wilding, who is more than 20 years her junior.
It is thought to be among the first times the BBC has paired an older female presenter with a younger man.
O’Reilly said last night: “I’m so excited about starting. My confidence took a kicking during the tribunal because so many hurtful things were said about the reasons why I was dropped from Countryfile.
“I really just have to build it back up again now, and live television will be an interesting way of doing that.”
She also disclosed how dozens of other female presenters have personally thanked her for exposing the BBC’s ageist attitudes to women.
She said: “I was nervous about going back because the tribunal was a very difficult fight, but the moment I walked through the doors of BBC Television Centre two women ran up to me and gave me a big hug.
“As I walked through the corridors people were shaking my hand and saying ‘well done’.
“They were all women who felt strongly about what I had achieved and felt I had done them a service too.
“Lots of other women presenters at the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 have thanked me for helping them hold onto their jobs for a little bit longer”.
As presenter of Crimewatch Roadshow, O’Reilly will file roving reports from around the country on how victims of crime can fight back, while Rav Wilding will present CCTV footage and reconstructions from in the studio.
Article from Telegraph