BBC Breakfast's Stephanie McGovern: I was seen as too common for tellyBusiness presenter says she received put-downs from some colleagues and abuse from viewers due to her Teesside accent
She has explained the global economic crisis to an audience of millions, but BBC Breakfast's business presenter Stephanie McGovern has said that colleagues treated her as "too common for telly" because of her Teesside accent.
McGovern complained that she regularly received abuse from viewers about her accent and that one BBC manager told her: "I didn't realise people like you were clever."
Writing in the Radio Times, McGovern said: "Despite being a business journalist at the BBC for 10 years, working behind the scenes on our high-profile news programmes, I was viewed by some in the organisation to be 'too common for telly'."
McGovern has presented financial news on BBC1's morning show for nearly a year and previously was a lead producer on BBC1's main news bulletins and BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
But it appears that not all viewers have been endeared by the Middlesbrough-born journalist despite her business acumen.
"The first question I get will be, 'What are Bill and Susanna like in real life?' – I'm happy to report they're lovely – and then it's, 'Where's your accent from?', which I like to chat about. But, unfortunately, there are quite a few people out there who are nasty about the way I talk," she wrote.
"You would think that after nearly two years in the job, people would be used to my Teesside tones. To be fair most are, but there are still some viewers who can't accept that someone with my accent can have a brain. It means that I regularly get abuse about it.
"I've had tweets questioning whether I really did go to university because surely I would have lost my accent if I did; a letter suggesting, very politely, that I get correction therapy; and an email saying I should get back to my council estate and leave the serious work to the clever folk."
McGovern first appeared on BBC screens aged 19 as a guest after winning a Young Engineer for Britain award for a design that helped save Black & Decker more than £1m. Shortly after her appearance she was appointed the main producer of Today on Radio 4, running coverage of major stories including the trial of former Daily Telegraph proprietor Conrad Black in Chicago.
She added that some viewers had complained that "people with regional accents can't use the English language correctly".
"It's inevitable that not everyone will like me, and that some will find me annoying. That's fine. All presenters deal with that. What's scary is the ignorance about what having a regional accent means, or indeed doesn't mean. It certainly doesn't equal ignorance," she said.
A BBC spokeswoman said: "Steph does a fantastic job on BBC Breakfast. If her accent was an issue for some in the past during her career then it certainly isn't now."