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Clare Balding: We need more female commentators says BBC and Channel 4 presenter

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  • The 41-year-old presenter was honoured at the Women in Film and Television Awards for her work presenting during the London Olympics
  • In her acceptance speech she said she hoped to see more female anchors working together

By Liz Thomas

PUBLISHED: 13:30 EST, 7 December 2012 | UPDATED: 14:34 EST, 7 December 2012

Clare Balding has called for more female commentators in sport insisting it was the next ‘big breakthrough’ that needed to happen to achieve equality on television. 

The 41-year-old star was honoured at the Women in Film and Television Awards for her work as a presenter during the London 2012 Olympics. 

Miss Balding won the achievement of the year accolade for her work for the BBC and for Channel 4’s Paralympic Games coverage.

Woman winner: Clare Balding poses with Mark Foster after winning the achievement of the year at the Women in Film and Television Awards today

Woman winner: Clare Balding poses with Mark Foster after winning the achievement of the year at the Women in Film and Television Awards today

She was widely regarded as the star of the BBC presenting line-up this summer – outshining main host Gary Lineker according to many viewers. 

In her acceptance speech, she said: ‘I hope that in the future you’re going to see female anchors working together and you’ll see female commentators, which is the next big breakthrough.

‘There are one or two who do commentating but very few. Obviously sports presenters you see women who’ve done phenomenally well - Hazel [Irvine], Gabby [Logan], Sue [Barker], Mishal Husain, all of us working together and knowing our stuff.

‘I think that’s what we’ve been valued for. I take the award on behalf of all of the women in sports television.’

Clare Balding was honored at the Women in Film and Television Awards for her work as a presenter during the London 2012 Olympics and in her acceptance speech she said she hoped to see more female anchors working together

TV equality: Clare Balding was honored at the Women in Film and Television Awards for her work as a presenter during the London 2012 Olympics and in her acceptance speech she said she hoped to see more female anchors working together

Dedicated to women: Miss Balding (pictured left with Paralympic Games presenters Adam Hills, Daraine Mulvihill, Ade Adepitan and Arthur Williams) said awards dedicated to women would encourage future generations

Dedicated to women: Miss Balding (pictured left with Paralympic Games presenters Adam Hills, Daraine Mulvihill, Ade Adepitan and Arthur Williams) said awards dedicated to women would encourage future generations

Miss Balding added that awards dedicated to the achievements of women were important as they helped encourage future generations. 

She explained: ‘I think it’s important for young girls who are, I hope, watching us and thinking “that’s a job I want to do” to know that warmth, humour, intelligence, doing your homework - that’s what matters. I’m not getting this award because of what I look like, or my dress sense. We all know that.’

'Knowing our stuff': Miss Balding (pictured carrying the Olympic flame) said there were some women commentators doing well

'Knowing our stuff': Miss Balding (pictured carrying the Olympic flame) said there were some women commentators doing well

Her comments come after debate has raged over the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, with many arguing for separate categories for men and women. 

Former Olympic champion Denise Lewis has called for ‘female’ and ‘male’ categories to make sure women’s achievements are not overlooked.

The 39-year-old, who secured gold in the heptathlon at the Sydney Games in 2000, insisted the current system was not fair.

Not a single woman made the 2011 shortlist, although this year five are nominated including Olympic and Paralympic champions Jessica Ennis and Ellie Simmonds. 

The results are voted for by the public but cyclist Bradley Wiggins and tennis star Andy Murray are frontrunners to win. 

The Women in Film and Television event was hosted by Great British Bake-Off co-presenter Sue Perkins and guests included Lisa Faulkner, Danny Boyle, Davina McCall and Julie Walters. 

Miss Walters, who presented one of the awards, added that women needed to work together because the film and television industry was tougher for them than their male counterparts. 

She said: ‘We struggle, as opposed to men, who don’t struggle quite so much. We have to support one another.’

Need to support each other: Former Olympic champion Denise Lewis (right) said there should be 'male' and 'female' categories to make sure women's achievements are not overlooked while Julie Walters (left) said women struggle 'as opposed to men'

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