TV Times magazine talks to Miriam O’Reilly about why she’s returning to the BBC after accusing them of ageism – and why her success in the case has changed the TV landscape for ever…
Did you have any hesitation in returning to the BBC to co-host
Crimewatch Roadshow alongside Rav Wilding?
“Not for one second. The whole aim of the case was to get my job back and I don’t bear any grudges. I wanted to work for the BBC because it’s the best broadcasting organisation in the world. Now, this is the positive end to the story – I’m just delighted to be back where I belong.”
What was your first day back like?
“I was nervous, but everyone has been so warm and supportive. I can’t tell you what it’s like to walk into Television Centre and be embraced by people and have them shake your hand. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was a great feeling. I thought, ‘This is tremendous, we can all move on now.'”
What has been the reaction elsewhere?
“I’ve had lots of positive responses from women who felt that I spoke for them. I actually had emails from female presenters saying, ‘Thank you, you’ve helped me keep my job a little longer.'”
Is the problem of ageism going away?
“Things are getting better. The Director General of the BBC called me and said that things would change for older women and he’s a man of great integrity. We had Rip Off Britain on at prime-time with Jennie Bond, Gloria Hunniford and Angela Rippon, which got five million viewers. There is a long way to go and it will take time, but change is happening.”
Does it worry you that the case may have overshadowed your career?
“I want people to think of me firstly as a journalist and broadcaster, but I won’t ever get away from what happened and I don’t want to. I’m proud of the stand that I took. It was a point of principle and it was hard, but it was the right thing to do and now I’m very happy to get on with my career.”
What has the new show been like?
“This is a new chapter for me and it is the kind of programme that I’ve always wanted to work on. The idea that criminals can be found and brought to book is a tremendous thing to be part of. The police needs help from the public and I’m hoping that people will respond to me. I know about doing the right thing however hard it is and I hope that will resonate with the viewers.”
*Crimewatch Roadshow screens Monday to Friday this week on BBC1 in the morning