The business partner of Graham Norton has said that the BBC’s stars are not paid enough.

Responding to news that big names such as Jeremy Clarkson have been told to expect a pay cut, Graham Stuart said: “As a producer who has worked in this industry for a long time, including in the teeth of recessions, I say it’s the opposite, that the pay for the stars is incorrect. They are not paid enough.”

Last week, BBC executives told a gathered crowd of around 100 TV and radio presenters that those earning over £100,000 must expect a pay cut of 25 per cent when their contracts come up for renewal, the Guardian reported.

It is thought that the very highest-paid stars, such as Jonathan Ross and Chris Moyles, could lose 40 per cent of their wage packets.

Stuart continued: “Remember, the entire television industry is based, squarely, on the shoulders of a very few talented people with special skills and with longevity. I say cutting their pay is a major mistake.

“People should remember how long a road Graham has been on, the amount of business he’s generated since the mid-1990s, and how many people’s employment depends on the success of his shows, which sell over the world. When we’re in production we have about 60 experienced people working on the show.”

Norton has said publicly that he would be willing to take a pay cut to keep his job. He currently earns £2.5 million a year but his contract comes up for negotiation at the end of this year.

He told the Daily Mirror last month: “I would take a pay cut to stay at the BBC. No one is immune from the credit crunch. I am very fortunate in that I am well paid to do jobs that I love.”

Last week, a BBC spokesman said: “No organisation is immune from the economic climate and we have to find substantial savings. Talent fees are not excluded from the economic pressures faced across the organisation and these will be reflected in our ongoing negotiations.

“This was an internal event as part of our ongoing dialogue with the artists and presenters who work for us.”

The pay of some stars has been met with anger by the public, especially that of Jonathan Ross.

The radio and TV presenter is thought to be earning £16.9 million for his current three-year deal. He was suspended last year for making obscene calls to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs, while a number of listeners complained last month after he made a joke about gay children being adopted.