Anne Robinson has spoken about how women in the television industry need to remain thin, in an interview with Radio Times. It was only in 2013 that she told The Telegraph: ‘Television is about pretty pictures, if you want to keep your job on telly, lose a stone and get a makeover, it’s as simple as that’.
Now due back on tv in a Children in Need edition of Weakest Link at the age of 73, Robinson has once again commented on her diligent regime, revealing: ‘I never have breakfast. I’m permanently on a diet. I’m like Victoria Beckham – you know, when she’s really, really, really hungry, she has a piece of lettuce… in order to be on television when you’re old, you have to be clever and thin.’
Robinson seems to consider this miserable self-afflicted deprivation a strict necessity and not something to resent. Other female tv personalities to have made similar comments include Mary Berry, who told The Sunday Times food magazine in 2015 ‘I eat carefully because people don't want to see a large person judging cakes’. Her ‘very disciplined diet’ involves eating one slice of toast for breakfast and only soup for lunch (while filming Bake Off, at least).
New Bake Off presenter Prue Leith is square-shooting on the old issue of diet, writing off ‘clean eating’, supplement-taking and detoxes as nonsense in The Sun earlier this year: ‘I’ve seen eggs, butter, cream, meat, salmon, orange juice, chocolate, bananas and a whole lot more that I can’t remember, vilified as actually bad for you then resurrected as health-giving, natural foods’. Nigella Lawson is a beacon of reassurance – at 57, she has remained adamantly anti-diet and brilliantly summed up the weird relationship a lot of us have with food in 2015, telling a JW3 Speaker Series: ‘There is a way in which food is used to either self-congratulate – you're a better person because you're eating like that – or to self-persecute, because you'll not allow yourself to eat what you want’.
Robinson, meanwhile, refers to Arlene Philips (who was replaced on Strictly, aged 66, by 30-year old Alesha Dixon) in her Telegraph interview: ‘Haven’t you noticed how much better Miriam O’Reilly and Arlene Phillips are looking since they were bumped? If they’d taken that much care of their appearance in the first place they would probably still be in a job’. In this week’s Radio Times, along with Robinson’s Victoria Beckham/lettuce remark, Extras actress Ashley Jensen has commented that “it’s one of these twisted things that’s become the norm, which is that women are not allowed to grow old. It’s becoming more normal to see a face that looks like a cross between a hard-boiled egg and a cat’.