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Greatest Women On TV

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Historian Mary Beard has spoken out about online misogyny and internet trolling after being bombarded by "truly vile" abuse following an appearance on BBC 2's Question Time last week. It's not the first time the Meet The Romans presenter has attracted irrational criticism: last year Sunday Times journalist AA Gill declared her too unattractive for TV in a review of her BBC2 show. Mary's response was, unsurprisingly, measured and intelligent.

When we take to a television presenter it’s because they are passionate about a topic or knowledgeable about an issue and have the talent to share their ideas engagingly. We pulled together 14 of the television women we really admire. We wanted to include more but, depressingly, there isn’t a very large pool to choose from (please add your own favourites in the comments below.) Read on and celebrate some of the brilliant broadcasters we have in Britain.

  • Mary Beard

    A Professor of Classics at Cambridge, classics editor of The Times Literary Supplement, and author of the "A Don's Life” column, also in The Times, Britain’s best known classicist is an inspiration for women in academia, and has made ancient history accessible with her TV programme Meet the Romans with Mary Beard.

    She has recently spoken out about online misogyny, having attracted a torrent of abuse from internet trolls after appearing on Question Time.

    "I'm outing this because I have a thick skin and, in the end, speculation on the size of my vagina doesn't move me half as much as worrying about the next chapter of my book I'm supposed to write. But then I'm lucky," she wrote.

  • Clare Balding

    Stylist columnist Clare Balding is another respected expert in her field who is no friend to AA Gill. The face of BBC sport, Balding successfully complained to the Press Complaints Commission in 2010 after the Times columnist branded her a “dyke on a bike”, and following Gill’s attack on Mary Beard she claimed he hates “most/all women” on TV.

    Balding has been presenting for 17 years and her intelligent and relaxed style has seen her win "Sports Presenter of the Year", "Racing Journalist of the Year" and "Racing Broadcaster of the Year".

  • Kirsty Wark

    Current affairs guru Kirsty Wark has been presenting for 25 years and has been the face of Newsnight since 1993, interviewing a range of high-profile figures, from Margaret Thatcher to Madonna. Wark became a household name in the Nineties, when she famously clashed with Thatcher over the then-prime minister’s hugely unpopular poll tax.

    The multi-award-winning Scottish journalist has also felt the sharp end of AA Gill’s pen. The TV critic branded her a "taut and trite Edinburgh cultural stamp collector" in a piece about the arts show Newsnight Review.

  • Alex Crawford

    Multi-award winning war reporter Alex Crawford, OBE, became a household name and internet sensation in August 2011 when she dramatically rode into the heart of liberated Tripoli with rebel forces – the first reporter to do so.

    In a Stylist web chat in March, the tenacious Sky News veteran told one fan that the death of fellow war correspondent Marie Colvin would not put an end to her work in dangerous war zones. “Marie's death was shocking to all of us but no, it has not put me off - rather hardened my resolve to keep going,” she said.

    The 49-year-old mother-of-four has criticised questions about how her role as a parent fits in with her job, asserting that male colleagues who report in dangerous circumstances do not face similar queries about how they raise their children.

  • Mariella Frostrup

    Norwegian-born Mariella Frostrup is well known for her husky voice but the journalist, TV and radio presenter has many more talents besides. Currently the presenter for Radio 4’s Open Book and Sky Art’s The Book Show, Frostrup has carved out a career as a book, film and arts critic and has sat on the judging panels for the Man Booker Prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Evening Standard British Film Awards.

    Her articles regularly appear in publications like the Guardian, the New Statesman and The Observer, and in 2008 she received an honorary doctorate from Nottingham Trent University in recognition of her contribution and commitment to journalism and broadcasting. Yes, Mariella Frostrup is so much more than a sexy voice.

  • Lauren Laverne

    From fronting cool indie band Kenickie in the Nineties to a talented writer, successful BBC 6 DJ and one of our favourite women on twitter, Lauren Laverne is also rather excellent on TV. On topical news satire 10 O'Clock Live, she’s a witty, but measured antidote to the male trio of Brooker, Mitchell and Carr, always managing pulling the discussion back to the subject when it goes a little off tangent.

  • Emily Maitlis

    Possessed of considerable talents in news reporting and analysis, Emily Maitlis presents the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme Newsnight as well as news programmes across the network. Rising to prominence when she co-presented the handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese people with Jon Snow for Channel 4, Maitlis then moved to Sky News as its Business Correspondent. Fluent in French, Spanish, Italian and some Mandarin – is there much the talented Ms Maitlis can’t do?

  • Lucy Worsley

    "The bathroom's laggardly development is one of the things that surprised me most about the home's history."

    The immensely watchable Dr. Lucy Worsley is an historian with a big personality. Her BBC series, If Walls Could Talk: A History of the Home, debuted last year like a blast of fresh air and shut the mouths of critics like David Starkey who famously attacked female historians in 2010 as ”'usually quite pretty” on their book covers and whose works he compared to “historical Mills and Boon.”

    Worsley, the chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces famously hit back: “If it wasn't insulting and degrading to judge historians by their looks, I would point out that Dr Starkey looks like a cross owl in the pictures on his own book covers.”

  • Ramita Navai

    An expert in human rights reporting in Asia and the Middle East, Ramita Navai has been tracking the political situation in the region for the UK media since 2003 when she worked as the Tehran correspondent for The Times newspaper.

    Since then Navai has covered political demonstrations, presidential elections and human rights cases in Iran, the devastating earthquake in Kashmir and has presented countless films for Channel 4’s Unreported World. In 2009, Navai came to the attention of Amnesty International and was shortlisted for the charity’s Gaby Rado award.

  • Zeina Khodr

    Al Jazeera’s roving correspondent has covered the political instability of Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iran and Libya. Working in international news for over 15 years , she recently won the achievement of the year prize at the 2011 WFTV (Women in Film and TV awards) for her coverage of events in Libya, applauded for being on the streets with the rebels, when others “seemed to report from their hotel rooftops in Tripoli”.

  • Dharshini David

    From fronting programmes for the BBC’s Panorama series to her current role as Sky News’ Business Correspondent, Dharshini David has been at the forefront of financial news since 2000, covering the biggest stories happening in the UK and international economy today – from the takeover of Cadbury to the collapse of the Bear Stearns bank on New York’s Wall Street.

  • Verity Sharp

    Although her most regular slot is a radio one, hosting Radio 3’s eclectic late-night music programme Late Junction, Verity Sharp hosted the first series of The Culture Show and continues to appear on the arts programme.

    A trained cellist and knowledgeable about all corners of music and the arts in general, Verity’s broadcasts have us riveted.

  • Laura Kuenssberg

    Currently doing great work as the business editor for ITV News, Laura Kuenssberg first came to our attention in 2010, covering the general election in her previous role as the chief political correspondent for BBC News. In broadcasts and on Twitter Laura dominated, breaking story after story as the coalition government took shape.

  • Vanessa Engle

    Engle (pictured here in her official BBC portrait) is a documentary maker, who has covered everything from art in the Sixties to our relationship with money. Her three Women documentaries for the BBC were a funny and insightful look at contemporary feminism. She’s one of Britain’s most acclaimed non-factual film makers and we love her for it.

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