Helen Skelton headed up the BBC's swimming coverage for the Rio Olympics.
Helen Skelton headed up the BBC's swimming coverage for the Rio Olympics.

Racy TV host ‘axed’ from Comm Games

A POPULAR BBC swimming commentator who made headlines with her revealing outfits during the Rio Olympics will not be part of the broadcaster's line-up for the Commonwealth Games next month.

But colleagues of Helen Skelton, a former presenter of children's program Blue Peter who has been a mainstay of the BBC's swimming coverage for the past few years, have slammed reporting which implied the decision was a result of Skelton's fashion choices.

The Daily Mail reported earlier this week that the 34-year-old had been 'axed' from the presenting team for the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast next month, suggesting it could be due to viewer complaints about her 'risque' outfits.

Skelton's co-presenters from Rio, former Olympians Rebecca Adlington and Mark Foster, remain in the BBC’s line-up for the games from April 4 to 15. The pair made headlines in 2016 for their flirtatious behaviour, with Adlington at one point appearing put her hand on Foster’s leg during a poolside interview.

'They haven't explained their reasons,' the paper quoted a source close to the mother-of-two as saying, adding she was 'sad' about the decision. 'There are a few people where you think it's a bit weird they aren't there. Helen would have loved to be there.'

A spokesperson for BBC Sport told The Daily Mail, 'We are sending a considerably smaller operation to Australia than we have to previous games and as such there won't be presentation from a number of sports including swimming. Helen remains a key presenter for BBC Sport.'

On Twitter, Skelton's BBC Rugby colleague Sonja McLaughlan criticised the reporting as sexist and described it as a 'dreadful hatchet job.' 'BBC taking small team to CWG to save money,' she wrote.

'It means I've been 'axed' as well as I'm not going for first time since 2002. Helen is [an] excellent broadcaster undeserving of such treatment.' McLaughlan added that the 'sad thing' about the Daily Mail piece was that it was written by a woman.

'Being part of #bbcwomen has taught me value of a sisterhood where so much can be achieved by standing together,' she wrote. 'Proud today to stand alongside #bbcwomen on #InternationalWomenDay.'

Skelton responded by making light of the controversy, posting a Wonder Woman meme captioned, 'My boss told me," ˜Dress for the job you want, not the job you have." Now I'm sitting in a disciplinary meeting dressed as Wonder Woman."

She added, "Good job we don't take life too seriously, Sonja."

The BBC has come under fire in recent months for allegedly paying its female staff less than their male colleagues. In January, China editor Carrie Gracie resigned in protest at the 'secretive and illegal BBC pay culture', after discovering her male colleagues earned 'at least 50 per cent more.'

On Thursday, female staff gathered outside the BBC offices to demand the broadcaster end the gender pay gap. 'The BBC is committed to closing the gender pay gap by 2020, which we're already underway with addressing, a spokesman said.