Gary Lineker becomes only on-air BBC talent to earn more than £1m

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Gary Lineker is the BBC’s top earning on-air talent for the fifth consecutive year and the only name to earn over £1 million annually, new figures show.

The 61-year-old pundit and former footballer was paid between £1,350,000 and £1,354,999 in 2021/2022 for work including Match Of The Day and Sports Personality Of The Year – a reduction of £10,000 on the previous year.

Lineker first topped the list for 2017/18 with a pay bracket of £1,750,000 to £1,759,999, and in 2020 it was announced he had taken a voluntary pay cut.

Zoe Ball remains the broadcaster’s second highest paid talent, with a salary of £980,000 to £984,999, but figures show her salary falling for a second consecutive year after also previously agreeing to a pay cut.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Her salary has now slipped to below £1 million and reflects approximately 210 editions of The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on Radio 2.

Alan Shearer has seen a year-on-year increase of £60,000, bringing his salary to £450,000-£454,999, which puts him joint third with Steve Wright, whose salary this year reflects a £15,000 decrease.

Former footballer Shearer’s increase was the result of him doing more work for the BBC during what was a major event year, the corporation said.

The corporation’s annual report for 2021/22, which also marks its centenary, shows four out of the top 10 best paid names have seen their salaries fall.

The Audio and Radio Industry Awards – London
Zoe Ball (Lia Toby/PA)

The only new addition to the top 10 is Greg James, whose salary has increased by £80,000.

The 36-year-old earns between £390,000 and £394,999 for work including the Radio 1 Breakfast Show, Rewinder on Radio 4, Radio 1’s Big Weekend and Out Out! Live, with Sports Personality Of The Year also listed.

This year’s top 10 features fewer women that last year, dropping from four to three.

Lauren Laverne does not feature in this year’s top 10, with figures showing her salary has fallen by £15,000 to the bracket of £380,000-£384,999.

BBC Director-General Tim Davie
BBC director-general Tim Davie (Hannah McKay/PA)

There is no year-on-year net change in the overall earnings of the top 10, with the amount saved through the four salary reductions equally matching the increases of the other six.

Other notable increases on the overall list of top earning on-air talent, as shown in the annual report, include Naga Munchetty with a £110,000 increase to £365,000 – £369,999 and Amol Rajan with an increase of £85,000 to £325,000 – £329,999.

Victoria Derbyshire, meanwhile, has seen a £70,000 increase to £240,000 – £244,999.

Graham Norton is also absent from the list after departing Radio 2 in December 2020 to start a show at Virgin Radio.

MEDIA BBC
BBC gender pay gap. See story MEDIA BBC. Infographic PA Graphics. An editable version of this graphic is available if required. Please contact graphics@pamediagroup.com.

Speaking at a press conference, BBC director-general Tim Davie said: “Critically, if you look at the overall spend for our top talent I think we are showing incredible restraint in a market that is being driven by extreme hyper-inflation and competition.

“If you look at the value we get. And I know this is a source of a lot of understandable attention, actually if you step back the actual amount paid for that group of talent, which only represents a tiny fraction of the 200,000-odd people who come on our airwaves every year, the return we get in terms of audience value is very strong.

“And actually our research (shows) people want to see the best people presenting and delivering for the BBC.”

The BBC has seen a number of high-profile on-air departures over the last year, with Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel, Andrew Marr and Dan Walker all leaving for rival broadcasters.

The salary list comes after Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries announced earlier this year that the BBC’s licence fee will be frozen under inflation for the next two years.

Mr Davie said he was “of course” concerned about retaining top talent in the face of inflation and a frozen licence fee.

He said: “I think we are in a competitive market and I think the BBC has always been to a degree in this position. But it is more intense as we see well-funded global players enter the market.

“Certainly in news and audio we are seeing a globalised market so you are going to get more demand for talent.

“I would say that overall I would (say) look at the data. Actually, if you looked at our presenting talent, I was looking at our so-called – not the most attractive term – but attrition rate, and it is about 3%.

“So there are obviously headlines around individuals and some regretted losses but actually our number in terms of the people being retained in the BBC is high.”

Mr Davie said there there was “no shortage of demand” for top positions at the broadcaster and added: “I think that is good because we are the best booking in town in my mind.”

He also stressed the importance of bringing “new talent” through the BBC and said the would always mean a “degree of change”.

John O’Connell, chief executive of campaign group TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Despite it being the first year of pensioners paying the TV tax, the Beeb’s top salaries have barely budged.

“These pay packets are taken from the pockets of hard-up pensioners and struggling taxpayers, who are fed up with the licence fee.

“Auntie may be moving in the right direction, but it’s high time we axed the TV tax and stopped taxpayers’ money going to these media millionaires.”