Chris Evans has defended his mammoth BBC salary and admitted he sought advice from his mum following the news that he's the broadcaster's highest-paid earner.
The BBC's annual report made public yesterday showed that Evans was paid £2.2 million and £2,249,999 during 2016/17 for his work at the corporation, which was four times that of the highest-earning woman Claudia Winkleman.
Strictly Come Dancing presenter and radio host Winkleman earned £450,000 to £499,999, and was the only woman along with Alex Jones and Fiona Bruce to make the 15 highest-paid stars list.
The former Top Gear host told listeners during his BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show that he called up his 91-year-old mother Minnie Beardsall for words of wisdom following the backlash.
"Here's a question - what do you say when confronted with the question: are you embarrassed about what you earn? Are you ashamed of what you earn?" he asked his listeners. "How do you react to that question when all you're doing is coming to work every day like you have been for years to fulfil an agreed contract?
"Frankly, I had no idea what to say. I've been asked that question and so have many of my colleagues over the last 24 hours. I was asked that again this morning by a film crew as I ran into work."
He went on to say that his mother told him to "earn what you can, when you can, while you can", as he continued: "I called my mum. She's 91, she's very wise, she was in the war, and I asked her what she thought.
"She said: 'Hang on a minute, love, let me just turn the telly down', she was watching Columbo on catch-up at the time, as she often is.
"She came back on the phone and said: 'Tell them that your mum, who's a nurse for most of her life, always told you after your dad died to try to find a job you loved, just like I love nursing, and earn what you can, when you can, while you can - which you did almost straight away from when you were a paper boy earning £1.50 a week for freezing your bits off and falling off your bike every two minutes, right through until what you're doing now.
"And tell them: if your bosses don't think you're worth it one day, they'll sort that out soon enough'.
"So there you are I'm going with what my mum said. I had to say that this morning and I think it's only right and proper that I said that. I thank my mum for her advice - I live by her word and I will die by her word."
The list of stars earning more than £150,000 at the BBC, which was made public for the first time yesterday, exposed the gender pay gap. Evans told reporters outside Broadcasting House yesterday [via the Mirror]: "I think this is the beginning of [the gender pay gap] being redressed, I imagine."
The annual report showed that around two-thirds of stars earning more than £150,000 are male, compared to one-third female. The top seven earners in the list were all male.