Stephen Nolan remains one of the BBC’s best paid presenters

Pandemic saw production spending in the North plummet, annual report shows

BBC Radio Ulster broadcaster Stephen Nolan remains among the highest on-air earners at the BBC, according to its 2020-2021 annual report, with the presenter receiving £405,000-£410,000 (€473,000-€479,000) for his radio and television work.

Mr Nolan presents The Nolan Show on Radio Ulster and Nolan Live on BBC One Northern Ireland as well as programmes broadcast across the BBC network on radio station 5 Live.

His pay bracket, which rose from £390,000-£395,000 (€455,000-€461,000) in the previous 12-month period, is the same as that of news bulletin and Question Time presenter Fiona Bruce.

Only four presenters – Gary Lineker, Zoe Ball, Steve Wright and Huw Edwards – are paid more directly by the BBC. The figures do not include any earnings that on-air personalities receive for independently made shows, which skews the final figures.


The median earnings across the BBC in the period was £45,900 (€53,500), the annual report said.

The BBC’s spending in Northern Ireland fell last year, which the public service broadcaster said was a result of disruption to production caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its spending on programmes aimed at audiences in the North fell, as did its spending on programmes that are made in Northern Ireland and broadcast across the UK.

“Local” spend fell from £59 million (€69 million) to £50 million (€58 million), while network spending plummeted from £34 million (€40 million) to £21 million (€25 million). Total expenditure fell 21 per cent to £83 million (€97 million), shy of the £99 million (€115 million) that households in the North paid in licence fees.

Network TV quota

The BBC has a quota that 3 per cent of its network television spend should take place in the North, but only 1.7 per cent did so in the most recently measured period, while it also missed its quota for network production in Scotland.

The broadcaster said locally produced programmes such as The Paddy Raff Show, Keepin 'er Country at Home, Edward Carson and the Fall of Oscar Wilde and "the ever-popular Nolan Live" had delivered strong performances.

Network dramas Bloodlands, which has been recommissioned for a second series, and the sixth season of Line of Duty – one of the BBC’s biggest hits – showcased the skills and talent of the North’s production industry, it said.

The BBC added that its "work in this area will be further developed" by its commission – together with BritBox North America – of daytime crime drama Hope Street, which is set in the fictional coastal town of Port Devine.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics