The former GMTV presenter Fiona Phillips has revealed that she was paid considerably less than her co-host Eamonn Holmes.
The pair formed one of Britain’s most memorable breakfast TV partnerships between 1996 and 2005, when Holmes departed for Sky News. Phillips continued for a further three years full-time on the ITV show’s sofa.
In her Daily Mirror column on Saturday, Phillips said she was “a relative pauper in relation to my on-screen king, Eamonn Holmes.
“Monetarily I was well adrift of my on-screen partner, who also had ‘perks’ that I clearly wasn’t deemed worthy of.”
The revelation comes as more companies report their gender pay gap before a 4 April deadline. This week ITN, which makes news programmes for ITV and Channel 4, reported a gender pay gap of 19.6%.
Phillips also said she had to fight for maternity pay after being told by bosses that viewers did not like seeing pregnant women on TV – “especially early in the morning”.
In her column she said she was “shamed” for her pregnancy and was told she could not appear on air once it showed too much.
“In the end I stayed until I was eight months’ pregnant, enabled by my handy trick of always wearing slimming black tops and trousers-skirts under whichever jacket I chose to cover myself up with,” Phillips wrote.
She cited family reasons for her decision to leave GMTV in 2008, but admitted it had been “the hardest decision I have ever made”.
In a statement announcing her departure, she said: “I love the job but I’ve got other responsibilities – the children, a home life and an elderly dad who needs me – and I’ve recognised that I can’t have it all,.”
The Mirror reported at the time that Phillips was leaving midway through a three-year contract worth £1.5m.
Phillips met her husband, Martin Frizell, working on GMTV. He later became editor of the programme but was sacked after ITV took full control of the breakfast broadcaster in 2009.
A Labour supporter, Phillips turned down the offer of a peerage and a role as a health minister in Gordon Brown’s government in 2007, telling the Guardian she was concerned about the resulting public scrutiny.
“I thought ‘am I up to the job? What effect would it have on the family when I did something wrong and the press had my guts for garters?’”
As well as writing her Mirror column, which Phillips has said brings “a certain amount of respect and standing”, she has been a freelance TV and radio presenter since leaving GMTV.
GMTV ended in 2010 and ITV’s breakfast show is now called Good Morning Britain.