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Television: Roger Lewis' choices

Arts | By Roger Lewis | September Issue

From naked bodies to regimented dystopian futures. What is on the television these days? 

These BBC salaries – £350,000 to Tess Daly (whoever she is) or £749,000 to Jeremy Vine – don’t sound so very much, when compared with the remuneration of an average QC or a reasonably competent society vet. John Gielgud’s daily rate, should you have wanted him for a cameo role, was £50,000 a day, and, in 1966, Laurence Olivier was paid a quarter of a million to black-up as the Mahdi in Khartoum, though I suppose that was film, not telly. In the Fifties, the Goons were paid a hundred guineas each for squeaking and squawking into a radio microphone on Sunday afternoons. That would be thousands in today’s money. As I myself earn less per annum than a trainee metalwork teacher in a duff comprehensive, I suppose I ought to be envious. My friend Stephen Fry told me he has ‘never known what it is like’ not to be...

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