THE NATION’s highest paid broadcaster Jonathan Ross and comedian Russell Brand have been suspended from the BBC following last week’s lewd radio-stunt.
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The pair left a series of explicit messages on 78 year old Andrew Sach’s answerphone after the ‘Manuel’ actor failed to turn up on Brand’s radio show. The tittering tirade included the assertion that Brand had previously bedded Sach’s granddaughter Georgina Baillie. This was backed up by Ross chiming in ‘he f***ked your granddaughter’.
Central to the public’s revulsion was the decision by Brand’s BBC production and management team to air the phone messages. This was not a live show and while elements were removed prior to broadcast, enough damaging contributions were aired to sow the seeds of scandal. 18,000 letters of complaints have so far been sent to the BBC following the affair and 15 MPs have signed a House of Commons Motion for the two to be fired.
BBC director general Mark Thompson has himself come under fire as he had not apologised to the 78 year old actor until today’s statement (see below) and did not act sooner to take the troublesome twosome off-air.
Sach’s has said that he will not be making a complaint to the police and that he is ‘not out for revenge’.
Mark Thompson Full Statement:
“I would like to add my own personal and unreserved apology to Andrew Sachs, his family and to licence fee payers for the completely unacceptable broadcast on BBC Radio 2.
BBC audiences accept that, in comedy, performers attempt to push the line of taste. However, this is not a marginal case.
It is clear from the views expressed by the public that this broadcast has caused severe offence and I share that view.
Since Sunday, I have been in regular contact with the senior executives I tasked with handling this issue.
The investigation that I instructed Tim Davie [director of BBC audio and music] to conduct is nearing completion, and I am returning to London to review the findings and, in the coming days, announce what action we will take.
In the meantime, I have decided that it is not appropriate for either Russell Brand or Jonathan Ross to continue broadcasting on the BBC until I have seen the full report of the actions of all concerned.
This gross lapse of taste by the performers and the production team has angered licence payers.
I am determined that we satisfy them that any lessons will be learnt and appropriate action taken.
I have been asked to report to the Trust’s Editorial Standards Committee before the end of this week and will discuss with the Trust the findings of the report and the actions I propose.”