Victory for TV presenter in 'watch your wrinkles' row

FORMER Countryfile presenter Miriam O'Reilly, has won an employment tribunal against the BBC after claiming she was the victim of age discrimination.

The award-winning 53-year-old journalist, who claimed she was unfairly axed from the show when it moved to a prime-time slot in 2009, said she was "delighted" after the verdict.

The tribunal had heard how she was warned to be "careful with those wrinkles when high definition comes in".

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She was also said to have been asked whether it was "time for Botox" and offered black spray hair dye to cover up a "white gap" on her head being picked up by the camera that was, in fact, her crown.

An additional claim of sex discrimination against the BBC from Ms O'Reilly failed.

The presenter had told the tribunal she was "devastated" when told in November 2008 that she was being dropped after eight years of working for the show as a freelance. Three other female Countryfile presenters aged over 40 - Michaela Strachan, 42, Juliet Morris, 45, and Charlotte Smith, 44 - were also axed alongside Ms O'Reilly, she said. Veteran broadcaster John Craven, 68, was, however, kept on for a slot called John Craven Investigates.

The BBC had denied the claims, insisting she was dropped because she lacked peak-time presenting experience. Following the tribunal verdict a spokesman for the broadcaster said it accepted the findings.

Age UK called for broadcasters to show a "more honest portrayal of society" by not favouring younger presenters.

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