Given he still presents a hit radio show at 90, he can certainly congratulate himself on his own longevity. And according to Nicholas Parsons, women have no reason to complain about ageism either.

The veteran host has denied women struggle to stay on air as they get older, and points to the popularity of Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry, 78, and actress Sheila Hancock, 80, to prove his point.

Asked about recent accusations that the BBC discriminates against female stars, he says: ‘It’s not true. There are older women on TV and radio. What about Mary Berry? She’s getting on a bit, but she’s a big name.

‘And Sheila Hancock is just as bright and sparky as ever. We had her on [Radio 4 show Just A Minute] recently and she was absolutely brilliant even though she’s really getting on.’

Earlier this month Parsons’s Radio 4 colleague, Today presenter John Humphrys, said it was ‘outrageous’ the BBC had not promoted more older women in the past.

In recent years, the Corporation has been hit by a string of ageism claims by female stars and lost an age discrimination tribunal to former Countryfile presenter Miriam O’Reilly in 2011.

But speaking ahead of today’s Oldie of the Year Awards, Parsons rejects the idea women in general struggle to hold on to their TV and radio careers past the age of 60. He says: ‘I think it’s an individual thing. I don’t think it’s a sexist thing at all. I don’t know why people complain about it. I don’t see the pattern.’

Reflecting on his own long career, the presenter puts his staying power down to ‘good genes’ and staying physically and mentally active. He is married to his second wife, Annie Reynolds, who at 74 is 16 years his junior.

He said: ‘I never thought about the age difference. I asked her once. I said: “Did you ever think that you might be marrying someone who’s 16 years older?” She said: “No, it never occurred to me.”

‘We both seem to be contemporaries. But now, of course, I’ve reached the grand old age of 90, I think she’s aware of the fact that she has a 90-year-old in the house. She helps me keep fit.’

Article from Daily Mail