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Helen Skelton recalls “intimidating” moment she was groped live on air

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Kayleigh Dray
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Helen Skelton has opened up about the moment she was groped by a male interviewee during coverage for a sporting event in 2014.

Countryfile’s Helen Skelton has said that she was touched inappropriately while she was pregnant – but insists she doesn’t want her #MeToo story to “become my identity”.

Speaking to The Telegraph, she said: “Basically this guy grabbed me on the arse when I was presenting live telly.

“I felt really awkward about it. I was pregnant at the time as well. I didn’t really know what to do.”

Skelton went on to admit that she felt unable to speak up about the incident, as she didn’t want to become known as “the person who is being difficult and awkward” – a feeling which she insists is common amongst women in the television and film industry.

“It’s intimidating [but] that’s just the culture that television breeds,” she said. “No one wants to be difficult.

“You want to bring solutions, not problems. We are all ‘happy, happy…’”

Skelton went on to reveal that, thankfully, her co-presenter Colin Murray “kicked off” about the incident. As a result, the man who had felt he had the right to touch her without her consent was suitable punished.

“It was handled brilliantly because of [Murray],” she said.

“I’d never thought about complaining. I don’t want it to become my identity. The man in question was punished. There was a line drawn under it, and that was that.”

Last year, it was revealed that only a third of the BBC’s top earners are women – and that its highest-paid male star, Chris Evans, earned a whopping £2.2 million last year. In comparison, the highest-paid woman, Claudia Winkleman, made £450,000.

It was a shockingly huge disparity, there’s no doubt about it. And yet, sadly, the news was not all that surprising: in the UK alone, the gender pay gap is currently at 18.1% – the lowest on record.

When asked to comment on this pay gap, Skelton – who contributed to BBC’s 2016 Rio Olympic Games coverage – said the industry was “inherently unfair” and she was not happy with what she and female colleagues had been paid.

“But I signed that contract because, the minute you don’t, there are 10 people behind you that will,” she added.

Now that the disparity has been made public, though, Skelton is keen to make sure the real issue doesn’t get lost in the noise.

“We have to be very careful that this doesn’t become a winging old boring argument. It needs to remain relevant,” she said firmly.

“We need to – and I know this sounds awful – keep the argument sexy. We have to keep it in the public eye.”

Of course, we’ve no doubt that Skelton will continue to speak out about the issue – and keep others talking about it, too: remember when, in March 2018, the presenter wasted no time in pointing out the inaccuracies in a “hack job” Daily Mail article about her?

Exactly.

Images: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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