Lesbian TV presenter Clare Balding says female viewers like her because she is not a “threat”.

The star, who is in a civil partnership, said that being open about her sexuality made her a better presenter.

Speaking to Radio Times, she said: “In a way it makes me much less of a threat – and women are funny the way they watch telly, because they don’t like women who they think might nick their husband.

“Seriously. They watch someone in a little tight leopardskin dress and they think, ‘Oh, I don’t like her’. And the husband is going, ‘She’s fantastic!’ But then I come on and they’re all right with that. And that could be hugely to my advantage. I hope so. I certainly don’t think it’s a disadvantage.”

The 40-year-old, who hid her sexual orientation for years, said that people were mostly accepting of her.

She said: “It is a difficult one for me because obviously there are certain people who don’t approve of my lifestyle choices. But, actually, I think for the most part people are accepting.

“Personally, I’m a much better broadcaster for not hiding who I am. Not necessarily trumpeting it, but not hiding it. I’m not lying any more – and I did lie, for about six or seven years. Because I was scared. That’s why everybody lies.”

Last year, Balding complained to the Press Complaints Commission over a Sunday Times article by AA Gill which called her a “dyke on a bike”.

“I can take most things but I don’t think anybody should be judged on their sexuality,” Balding says now. “Their ability to do their job is separate from who they fall in love with.”