During an appearance on BBC Breakfast, Dame Esther spoke out against Lineker’s pay as she contrasted it against over-75s having to pay for TV licenses.
“Being a BBC presenter gives you the key to so many magical kingdoms,” she said.
“You get invited to red carpets events, you get free gifts showered on you, and to see that Gary Lineker took a voluntary pay cut of £400,000 sticks in your craw when you know that 75 plus-year-olds are having their free licences taken away.”
On Tuesday, it was revealed Lineker would be taking a pay cut after he was named as the BBC’s highest earner.
After earning £1.75 million between March 2019 and 2020, the Match of the Day host has reduced his annual earnings down to £1.35 million.
“Here’s the solution,” said Dame Esther, who presented That’s Life! For 21 years. “Nobody working for the BBC, whether it’s in front or behind the camera, should be paid a salary more than the Prime Minister.
“Cut them right down to that poverty level of £150,000 per year. They will still have all the commercial benefits, they will still be able to talk to their events and do their commercials for potato crisps, but at least you and I, paying our licence fee, will know that nobody working for the Beeb is paid more than the Prime Minister.”
The BBC this week revealed their highest-earning stars in their annual financial report, revealing Lineker and Zoe Ball as the two stars earning over £1 million every year.
Graham Norton, Huw Edwards and Lauren Laverne were among those in the top ten earners at the BBC.