In the media equivalent of a cabinet reshuffle, the BBC’s Today programme welcomed a new team member this morning. The name is Emma Barnett, late of BBC Radio 5 Live, Woman’s Hour and Newsnight.

For the avoidance of doubt I should inform the nations and regions that Ms Barnett went to a private school (Manchester High School for Girls), just like her fellow presenters, Nick Robinson (Cheadle Hume School), Martha Kearney (George Watson’s College, Edinburgh), Justin Webb (Sidcot School), and Mishal Husain (Cobham Hall School). The only one who did not attend a fee-paying school is Amol Rajan (Graveney School, Tooting).

When Ms Barnett replaces Ms Kearney, as is planned, the scores on Today’s diversity doors will remain the same: four out of five presenters, 80%, will have gone to private schools. That compares to 7% of the UK population as a whole. This puts Today presenters in an elite of their own, with much work still to do if they are to reflect the country they broadcast to six days a week.

Oh dear. Apologies for coming over all Citizen Smith/class war this early in proceedings. After watching Lorraine, no surname required, on the Baftas on Sunday I had a notion it was okay to talk about this stuff now. Get it out in the open. Shove a duster where the spotlight doesn’t usually shine.

Here is what happened. Lolly had just accepted a Bafta special award from fellow Scot Brian Cox to mark her 40 years in television. After thanking Bafta she told the audience what a good thing it was to give others a helping hand.

Don’t pull up the ladder behind you, she said. Please make it possible for kids like her, from a very working-class Glasgow background, to have the same chances she had. Gesturing to Cox, who grew up desperately poor in Dundee, she said: “We’ve had amazing opportunities, but I just want everyone to have those opportunities.”

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The Bafta audience cheered her to the rafters and then one by one they rang their kids, and their kids’ friends, and their kids’ friends of friends, to say sorry, the work experience gig was cancelled and the place would be going instead to some random working-class youngster.

As if. If television, the arts, the media in general, were to say cheerio to all those privately educated or who had been given a leg up by parents there would only be Amol Rajan and the security guys at Pacific Quay left.

Seriously, why in 2024 is it still necessary for someone to plead the case for equality? To argue that every child should have the chance to go as far as their talents will take them, without fear or favour?

The short answer is that the class divide remains as entrenched as it has ever been. Ask Amol Rajan. In 2019 he made a documentary, How to Break Into the Elite. The response was such he came back in 2022 with How to Crack the Class Ceiling. This film, no longer on iPlayer but available via YouTube, looked at what was being done about the problem.

Nothing, alas, had changed. Certainly, businesses and other institutions now talked a good game about inclusion and diversity, but the picture stayed the same. If you are white, well-off and male, you are in the door. Everyone else, good luck.

The advice from experts was to work with the system. Fake it till you make it, if you like. Not everyone could. One student from York was so worried about his North of England accent he watched elocution videos on YouTube. How sad that such bright youngsters are being held back by this same old nonsense.

Accents crop up often as barriers to progress. When Lorraine Kelly was starting out, a BBC Scotland boss told her she would never make it in television because of her working-class Glasgow accent.

Consider the ugly comments on social media when writer and filmmaker Darren McGarvey appeared on Question Time. Outwith Scotland, Lauren Laverne still outrages those who believe Desert Island Discs must be hosted by someone born in the Home Counties. Yet they were happy enough with Kirsty Young, now widely accepted as the go-to presenter on all things royal. Some Scottish accents are easier on the ear than others.

In certain environments, a Scots accent is an advantage. Again, it depends which kind. Billy Connolly has stayed true to his vocal roots. He might have become a pal to royals and a Sir, but he still sounds like a working-class Glaswegian. But then there is that other Glaswegian, Rab C. Isn’t he a more accurate representation?

It is all so complicated. Except it is not, not really. Every adult must surely accept that class barriers remain in this country. The question is how much they matter, and what we as a society are prepared to do about it.

To talk about class, as Lorraine did, can be a thankless business. No one wants to be mean about other people’s children. Youngsters have enough pressure on them as it is. But it is not mean to argue for equal opportunity. When it comes to work experience, for instance, most companies already operate a system where applicants have to disclose any connections to the business. It’s good for the firm, good for the economy, and good for the applicants.

There are other ways the young Lorraines and Brians of today can be helped up the ladder. Could class be made a “protected characteristic” like age or religion, or would that be impossible to define? Should positive discrimination be used? Or is the best way to help working-class kids to give their parents a middle-class income?

Good on Lorraine, anyway, for taking up the cause. The last famous face to do so was Nadine Dorries, the former culture secretary who delighted in asking the “snobbish” BBC what it was doing to recruit more working-class applicants. In fact, the BBC is one of the few organisations to set a target in this area. By 2027 it wants a quarter of staff to come from poorer backgrounds.

It can be done and it is certainly worth trying. I’m sure Emma Barnett and all her new colleagues, whether privately educated or not, would agree.