Anita Rani has said the pay gap at the BBC is as much about race and class as it is about gender.
The Countryfile presenter said it was “disappointing” to see the pay disparity when the corporation revealed its highest paid stars last month.
Rani told the Press Association: “It’s difficult for everybody but, for me, as much as it’s about gender I think it’s about race and it’s about class.”
The presenter added “there is a lot to be sorted out”.
“I think this is the beginning of a big shift and a change, which is a good thing,” she said.
Asked if the revelations were as she expected, she said: “Knowing something intellectually and seeing it on paper are always two very different things, it was disappointing.”
The BBC published a list of stars who are paid more than £150,000 in July, as part of its annual report.
Two thirds of the stars were male, with the highest paid names including Chris Evans, Gary Lineker, Jeremy Vine and Graham Norton. Claudia Winkleman was the highest paid female star.
The highest-paid stars from an ethnic minority background were George Alagiah, Jason Mohammed and Trevor Nelson – with Mishal Husain the top-earning female.
Matt Baker was the only Countryfile presenter to appear on the list, due to his other presenting roles on The One Show and the BBC’s Olympics coverage.
After the publication, Sky News calculated that 45% of the BBC’s best-paid stars were privately educated.
Earlier this year, a study carried out by the Social Mobility Commission found 66% of journalists are from professional and managerial backgrounds, with fewer than 12% from working-class backgrounds.
Holby City’s Hugh Quarshie said this week that he he should be paid a similar salary to Casualty’s Derek Thompson, who earns between £350,000-£399,000 per year.
Quarshie has played Ric Griffin in Holby City for 15 years.