Analysis: Stephen Nolan's BBC wages of din are up to £450,000

Stephen Nolan at the BBC in Belfast. Picture by Hugh Russell.

AT least we now know what the wages of din amount to: in a truly heroic act of self-indulgence, Stephen Nolan will this morning devote the full hour-and-a-half of his own BBC Radio Ulster show to himself and his up-to-£450,000 salary.

It is a typically Nolanic move. Even after yesterday's day of corporate self-flagellation over pay, it is difficult to imagine that Mr Nolan's fellow high-earners - household names like Chris Evans, John Humphreys or the people from the dancing programme - will spend anything like 90 minutes telling their audiences why they are worth the sorts of salaries those same listeners and viewers would need years to accumulate.

His weight, parking tickets, fast food addiction, Fantasy Island, peach schnapps, diets, fitness boot camps and prawn cocktail crisps are long established among the personal subjects that Mr Nolan is at ease broadcasting about, albeit often accompanied by faux reluctance. To this, we can now add his pay packet.

The size of his earnings, as well as the fact that they place him in the top 10 of the BBC's highest paid 'talent', will have pleased Mr Nolan as much as they puzzled commentators in Britain.

Clearly they aren't signed up Nolanoscenti, like George from the Shankill, Norman from Bangor, Gregory from East Londonderry and the two Jims, Wilson and Rodgers.

The Evening Standard, in its editorial, asked of the BBC: " you really need to pay Stephen Nolan (exactly, who?) £450,000 a year?" Nor was it alone.

It is, however, probably easier to defend the size of Mr Nolan's BBC pay - he is a gifted and courageous broadcaster who works seven days a week - than it is the shouty tone that his Northern Ireland shows have fostered in political and civic debate.

Generally speaking, the 5 Live shows are models of measured restraint and gravitas compared to the bread and circus, themmuns approach that characterises much of the Radio Ulster programme.

The Nolan Show is famous for its clunking segues from subjects like sectarianism to performances by the Bay City Rollers

And that's before considering the Nolan Live television show, described in these pages recently by Denis Bradley as "farcical current affairs and poor light entertainment".

If anything, Denis was being overly generous to a show whose clunking segues from sectarianism to the Bay City Rollers are the stuff of legend.

This morning's promised salary interrogation by an 'independent' contributor will doubtless add to Mr Nolan's own legend.

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