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Per Una, cardigans and chinos: Leaked BBC email reveals the clothes staff must avoid

A leaked email has outlined details of what female BBC newsreaders and journalists should wear on screen.

Leather, PVC and fur items are strongly ill-advised – while clothes from Marks & Spencer brand Per Una should be avoided.

Presenters are also warned not to wear trainers – unless “your story involves running” – and flip-flops are reserved for journalists doing “a fun story on a beach”.

The edict also urges journalists to ensure they have neat, shorter hair, wear minimal make-up and jewellery and to see that their skirts are no shorter than knee length.

Bold or patterned tights or leggings are another no-no.

The email was sent to 23 reporters and newsreaders in the South West last week by BBC South West editor Sam Smith, who admits her advice is a “minefield of PC pitfalls”. 

The BBC said: “This informal advice was shared with a small number who appear on-screen about what does and doesn’t work on camera or under TV lighting.”

Smith, who is in charge of the broadcaster’s current affairs show Inside Out South West, writes: “I’ve been having some thoughts about our on-screen appearance. I think, as a team, we need to up our game.

“The below is my view based on long experience of getting it wrong and very occasionally right both reporting in the field, and presenting in the studio.

“TV is entirely artificial. Things that look great in real life can easily look distinctly odd, inappropriate or distracting on the telly.”

Plymouth-based Smith then lists instructions for presenters based on what newsreaders on their regional rival wear and “the expectations of our audience”.

Sunglasses, shorts, sandals, T-shirts and anything with logos are banned and newsreaders are advised to “steer clear of jewellery”.

Patterned clothes, leather, mock-leather, mock-croc, fur and PVC also fail to make the cut because they are “distracting”.

The memo goes on to instruct female presenters not to slather on slap but wear minimal makeup, “enough so you look like you under studio lights”.

It even suggests women chop their hair, with Smith, who wore hers long for years, saying it needs “a ridiculous level of attention to look OK onscreen”.

She adds: “Shoulder length and above is easier to cope with and generally looks more professional.”

Jeans and chinos must be avoided, “even the very smartest ones” because “they’re still jeans” and “chinos went out on screen with Haircut 100”.

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