A bizarre day for BBC broadcasters reached new heights this afternoon when Jeremy Vine quizzed his boss live on air about how the Beeb could justify his own salary.
The question came after the corporation released a list of its top-paid talent this morning following demands from the government.
The document revealed that Vine takes home the fourth largest salary at the BBC, coming in behind Chris Evans, Gary Linker and Graham Norton.
During his Radio 2 show, Vine took it upon himself to challenge earnings at the BBC, asking James Purnell - the broadcaster’s director of radio: “I’m listed as having a salary of between £700,000 and £750,000.
“How do you justify that?”
Purnell replied by calling Vine a “fantastic broadcaster”.
“You provide a huge public service,” Purnell said.
“Let’s take the last few weeks. You have been talking about funeral care and how people were being ripped off for that.
“That is something that I’m proud to have on the BBC, proud to have in our country and plays a vital role in our democracy.”
Adding that Vine also works on quiz show Eggheads and a number of other programmes, Purnell continued: “The core point to make is that there is a market for the Jeremy Vines, there is a market for John Humphreys, there’s a market for Chris Evans.
“There’s a market for people at the BBC and that is a reality. We are not operating in the same market as people who go and work for the civil service.”
Vine’s questioning of his boss won support among some of his listeners.
“This is why Jeremy Vine is worth £700k,” one man tweeted.
But Vine later refused to answer a question from a listener asking if he thought he was overpaid, saying: “I don’t think it’s the moment from me.”
When the same caller asked if he was embarrassed to pick up his paycheque, Vine replied: “I just feel very lucky everyday”.