[Pounds Sterling]500,000 That's Fern Britton's New Salary . . . and She's on a Three-Day Week!

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FERN Britton has become the highest-paid woman on television with a [pounds sterling]500,000 deal - despite cutting her hours.

The presenter of This Morning has agreed to stay on the ITV1 daytime series for another year and work only three days a week instead of five.

The move follows 44-year-old Miss Britton's confession in January that she could not cope with combining a family life and her gruelling TV schedule.

Her new deal - with a pay rise said to be [pounds sterling]100,000 - will allow her to spend more time with her husband, television chef Phil Vickery, and her four children, who are aged from two to ten.

ITV was desperate to hang onto Miss Britton who is popular with viewers and has forged a successful partnership with co-host Philip Schofield.

Hailed as the 'Queen of Daytime', her contract, starting in the autumn, will propel her into the top league of presenters, earning almost [pounds sterling]5,000 a show.

This is more than double that of her ITV daytime stablemates, breakfast presenter Fiona Phillips and Melanie Sykes, who co-hosts lunchtime chat show Today with Des and Mel with Des O'Connor.

Miss Phillips is understood to earn about [pounds sterling]275,000 a year while Miss Sykes receives around [pounds sterling]2,000 a show.

Channel Five newsreader Kirsty Young also earns [pounds sterling]500,000 a year but, calculated on an hourly basis, Miss Britton earns more. …