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As Ellie Harrison becomes latest woman over 40 to quit the broadcaster, is the lure of making money (and spending more time with the children) too much to resist?


Ellie Harrison has announced she’s stepping down from Countryfile, making her the latest in a string of presenters aged 40 and up to scale back their workload with the broadcaster – or leave entirely. 

The presenter,  45, who is a mother-of-three, announced that she will  focus on spending time with her children, but intriguingly added that her plans include ‘growing her family business’.

Ellie’s husband is Dr Matt Goodman, founder of the health app MapMyHealth, while she herself manages a five acre cider apple orchard, although it’s unclear which enterprise she’s set to focus on. 

She follows in the footsteps of Helen Skelton, 40, who stepped back from her 5 Live presenting job in August, citing the ‘juggle’ involved in being a single working mother.

It came just weeks after Helen, who still works for Countryfile, was reportedly reprimanded by BBC bosses for tagging products she wore to present Morning Live – which is against the broadcaster’s guidelines, although it wasn’t a paid post.

Helen recently posted an ad for Disney to her Instagram feed, indicating that sponsored content could be a potential revenue stream for her in the future.  

Meanwhile, Joanna Gosling left her role as a news anchor to join a very prestigious law firm while Louise Minchin also traded in the BBC Breakfast sofa for a career writing books.

Here Femail explores whether female presenter over 40 with one eye on the future are being tempted away from the broadcaster with one eye on a more financially lucrative path. 

Helen Skelton

Helen Skelton - who annoucned she was leaving the BBC last month - appears in an advert for Disney, which she shared to Instagram

Helen Skelton – who annoucned she was leaving the BBC last month – appears in an advert for Disney, which she shared to Instagram 

Helen Skelton announced to fans she was quitting her BBC Radio 5 Live Sunday morning show in August.

The star, 40, admitted that ‘the juggle is real’, referencing trying to balance being a single parent to three children and her successful broadcasting career, following her split from her husband Richie Myler. 

In August, she reportedly came under fire from BBC bosses after plugging brands during her time working on Morning Live.

The television presenter went against the strict guidelines of the broadcasting corporation by tagging the brands of clothing, jewellery and cake makers in her Instagram posts.

She later removed the tags and did not receive payment for naming the brands on her social media channel. 

Tagged: In another picture taken in the Morning Live studio, Helen tagged luxury womenswear brand ME + EM

Tagged: In another picture taken in the Morning Live studio, Helen tagged luxury womenswear brand ME + EM

Name drop: On Friday, Helen shared a picture of herself with some cakes made by 2018 Great British Bake Off winner Briony May Williams, who she tagged in her Instagram post

Name drop: On Friday, Helen shared a picture of herself with some cakes made by 2018 Great British Bake Off winner Briony May Williams, who she tagged in her Instagram post

She has now got a job as a voice of a new Fireman Sam character in a series airing on Cartoonito later this month

She has now got a job as a voice of a new Fireman Sam character in a series airing on Cartoonito later this month 

Rules state that ‘no on-air talent should promote products, goods, services or clothing they use’.

And despite still having a job at the corporation, as a presenter of Countryfile,  she posted another ad for Disney Family in September.

She has now been announced as the voice of a new Fireman Sam character in the upcoming series 15, which will premiere on Cartoonito from October 21. 

Ellie Harrison

Ellie Harrison quit her role on the BBC’s beloved Countryfile yesterday – and will now be focusing on her husband’s biotech company. 

The long-time presenter, 45, who was a firm favourite with viewers, has said she is leaving the show so that she can have more time with her family as well as pursuing her ambitions of becoming an artist. 

‘After 13 years, my final column is a fond farewell to Countryfile – I’ll miss the people, places and stories,’ she wrote in the latest issue of Countryfile Magazine. 

She's off! Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison, 45, has revealed she is leaving the show after 13 years to focus on raising her children

She’s off! Countryfile presenter Ellie Harrison, 45, has revealed she is leaving the show after 13 years to focus on raising her children

Departure: The long-time presenter, who was a firm favourite with viewers, has said she is leaving the show so that she can have more time with her family

Departure: The long-time presenter, who was a firm favourite with viewers, has said she is leaving the show so that she can have more time with her family

‘Thirteen-and-a-half years after I arrived four hours early for my first Countryfile shoot, which culminated in me commuting up Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) to deliver Matt Baker a sandwich of freshly harvested mushrooms, it has come time for me to bid you farewell. 

‘It has been a decision I’ve drawn out, such is the bond with the programme, and boy will I miss the geography field trips.’ 

She said that she had realised that she needs to ‘chart a new course’ that involves spending more time at home. 

‘I’ve come to realise that I don’t need to navigate to a whole new ocean or even a new sea, but to chart a new course somewhere in these waters, raising my three wonderful children, growing our family business and following my own creative calling to produce art of my own making,’ she said. 

Her partner: Ellie has three children with Dr Matt Goodman, a Cotswolds GP

Ms Harrison lives in the Cotswolds with her GP husband Dr Matt Goodman and children Red, 13, Lux, 11, and a seven-year-old she has not publicly named. 

Matt previously dated Holly Willoughby.  The presenter manages a five-acre ancient cider apple orchard, which she rents from her local pub, while Dr Goodman founded health app MapMyHealth, which helps manage chronic conditions. 

Joining the health tech firm will no doubt be a healthy way for the presenter to make money.

And like Helen, it will free her up to appear in adverts and work with brands.

Joanna Gosling 

Joanna Gosling is another BBC anchor who left the Corporation after years on air.

The veteran broadcaster joined the BBC in 1999 – but left last year to become a family mediator at a top law firm.

She now works as a Senior Associate Mediator at Irwin Mitchell and says a passion for helping people navigate disputes led her to mediation.

Joanna Gosling is another BBC anchor who left the Corporation after years on air. The veteran broadcaster joined the BBC in 1999 - but left last year to become a family mediator at a top law firm

Joanna Gosling is another BBC anchor who left the Corporation after years on air. The veteran broadcaster joined the BBC in 1999 – but left last year to become a family mediator at a top law firm

 On the firm’s website she says: ‘Through 30 years in journalism, my particular interest was the people at the heart of news stories, and a strong desire to lend an ear, give a voice and shine a light. 

‘It became increasingly clear to me that beyond my role as a reporter, I wanted to step in and do something more proactive to support people stuck in conflict. 

‘I trained and qualified as a mediator, and did both roles alongside each other, until I decided to leave the newsroom at the beginning of 2023 and focus on mediation.

She said that her career change came after she was ‘involved in conflict’ during her time at the corporation.

‘That was an extremely difficult time and I really felt like there should have been more collaborative conversations than were going on at that time,’ she told The Telegraph.

‘I also got divorced, so obviously, I had that midlife change also and that awareness of what goes on with that.’

Joanna Gosling - who joined the BBC in 1999 - bid an emotional farewell as she signed off from her final broadcast on January 26

Joanna Gosling – who joined the BBC in 1999 – bid an emotional farewell as she signed off from her final broadcast on January 26

These work and personal difficulties prompted her to train in mediation, which sees experts hold discussions with parties on both sides of a conflict.

She said the dramatic career move means she can now ‘be the person I wish had been there for me’.

When the BBC was making a raft of cuts to its staff earlier this year and redundancy packages came available, Gosling said she tried to see it as an opportunity.

‘I knew that I needed to do this, I was done with what I had been doing, I’d been doing it for 30 years. I’d absolutely loved it but it was definitely time to do something different.’

The broadcaster now presents a show on Classic FM, but has insisted she doesn’t plan on returning to news.

Gosling was married to David Cameron’s former communications director Sir Craig Oliver for 18 years before they divorced in 2014. The pair have three daughters together.

Louise Minchin

BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin announced she was leaving the broadcaster last year. She is now writing her third book (pictured with her second)

BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin announced she was leaving the broadcaster last year. She is now writing her third book (pictured with her second)

Louise is pictured at Chiswick Book Festival promoting her new book

Louise is pictured at Chiswick Book Festival promoting her new book

The thriller, called Isolation Island, is set in a reality TV show on a remote Scottish Island with a violent storm on the way - and may well draw on her experience in the I'm A Celebrity jungle.

The thriller, called Isolation Island, is set in a reality TV show on a remote Scottish Island with a violent storm on the way – and may well draw on her experience in the I’m A Celebrity jungle.

BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin announced she was leaving the broadcaster last year.

The 53-year-old has since published a successful non-fiction book – and is penning her first novel.

In her first book, Dare to Tri, Minchin charted her journey from the Breakfast sofa to representing the Great Britain Triathlon team in her age-group at World and European Championships.

Her follow-up, Fearless: Adventures with Extraordinary Women tells the stories of ordinary women who perform extraordinary feats of endurance, and each chapter sees Minchin join a different woman for a challenge.

She is now writing her first fiction book, and has appeared on various 

BBC Breakfast presenter Louise Minchin announced today that she is leaving the programme

She tweeted a selfie before today's show, saying her suit was 'chosen to match the sunshine'

She tweeted a selfie before today’s show, saying her suit was ‘chosen to match the sunshine’

The thriller, called Isolation Island, is set  in a reality TV show on a remote Scottish Island with a violent storm on the way – and may well draw on her experience in the I’m A Celebrity jungle.

In her previous book, she revealed her ‘deep shock’ upon discovering her co-host Dan Walker was being paid substantially more than her in 2017, a pay gap she spent her last four years at the Beeb fighting.

Discussing her time on Breakfast, she also writes in her the book how she challenged bosses over the fact that she rarely ever led the programme with the first ‘hello’ or interview.

She writes: ‘I had noticed that almost every day my male colleague was given the prestigious task of saying hello at the top of each hour, introducing the programme and doing the first interview.



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