Yesterday the BBC published a list of all of its stars and senior managers who earn £150,000 or more. The list was widely expected to reveal a gender pay gap within the corporation but the results have sent shock waves through the BBC and beyond.

According to the list, of the top 96 earners only a third are women. The top earning star is Chris Evans who earns at least £2.2m whilst the top earning female star is Claudia Winkelman who trails some way behind at £450,000 - £500,000. More troubling perhaps than this disparity, is the fact that some female stars who perform essentially the same role as men are being paid significantly less. Take the example of the Today Programme on Radio 4. John Humphreys receives £600,000 - £649,999 whilst his fellow presenter Mishal Hussain earns £200,000 - £249,999. Mr Humphreys himself has come out and criticised the BBC for the “strange” disparity in pay between himself and his female colleagues.

Some of the BBC’s top female stars have already expressed outrage via social media and it is surely only a matter of time before they start banging on the Director General’s door for a pay rise. Should these discussions fail then we may well see complaints of sex discrimination being raised against the BBC. Whilst any such claims are not guaranteed to succeed, the BBC would have to be ready to explain any pay differentials and be able to demonstrate that any difference is not on the grounds of sex. No mean feat in the circumstances!

The Director General has promised to close the pay gap by 2020 which seems pretty ambitious to me, particularly given his inability to increase the BBC’s overall salary bill. The next few weeks and months are likely to make for uncomfortable viewing for the BBC.