Ever since he made a name for himself as the nice guy on Castaway 2000, Ben Fogle has popped up as the nice guy on many television shows.
And there’s a reason for that. Whether it’s Animal Park, Crufts or Countryfile, Fogle cares about what he does, he’s passionate about the shows he makes and wants to make sure the viewers enjoy them too.
Which is why, after yesterday’s news that free TV licences for over-75s are being cut, Ben Fogle has said he will donate one year’s salary from his job presenting Animal Park to help pay TV licences for pensioners.
Fogle said he was ‘disappointed’ by the BBC’s decision to scrap free TV licences for most over-75-year-olds. Under the new decision, only people who claim pension credit benefit would qualify for a free licence.
The presenter added: ‘Let’s not penalise those who most value the BBC.’
Posting a heartfelt message on Twitter, Fogle said he will donating his salary to Age UK, writing:
I LOVE the BBC. I think it is one of the greatest institutions in the world. It is the envy of most nations, it makes amazing content and I’d argue it is still value for money.
I owe my whole career to the BBC. They gave me my first break and they (you) employed me for many years but I am disappointed in the recent announcement on the abolition of free licences to the over 75s.
I’m sorry to hear the news about BBC licences to over 75s. The BBC have been good to me and you have all supported me over the years. I’ll subsidise some licenses. Anyone else?
— Ben Fogle (@Benfogle) June 11, 2019
I don’t entirely blame the BBC. I think the government forced their hand.
I have decided to donate my entire salary for this year’s BBC Animal Park to subsidise licences for those over 75s who have no way of paying for a licence.
This is not virtue signaling (although I do think it’s time to rethink the licence) but we owe it to those over 75 who have served their country in the armed forces, the NHS, the fire service etc.
Let’s not penalise those who most value the great BBC. I think society is in danger of losing its moral compass.
You can read the full statement here:
— Ben Fogle (@Benfogle) June 12, 2019
The BBC said the change to free licences was ‘the fairest outcome’ as, if they were to continue to provide free TV licences to the over-75s, it would cost the corporation around £500 million, according to BBC News.
Around 3.7 million pensioners will be affected by the new ruling, which comes into effect from June 2020. Prime Minister Theresa May said she was ‘very disappointed’ by the decision, though BBC chairman Sir David Clementi said it was ‘the fairest and best outcome.’
In 2015, parliament decided the BBC would cover the cost of TV licences for the over-75s by 2020, rather than the government. However, the BBC now say it would cost them £745 million by 2021/2022 to do this, a fifth of their total budget, and would result in ‘unprecedented closures’.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.