Clamour grows for BBC to act over Russell Brand radio insults
Some prank phone calls made by BBC presenters Russel Brand and Jonathan Ross have become a major issue in the UK, dominating the 24-hour networks today. When a high-profile guest cancelled on the show, Brand and Ross left him messages on his voicemail on air harassing him, with Brand telling the man, in his 70's, that he slept with his grandaughter. A public outcry has followed, with major politicians weighing into the matter. Both Gordon Brown and opposition leader David Cameron have strongly condemned the prank. Yet the BBC has not yet acted, hoping the controversy will go away. But with the blanket coverage on UK media, that seems unlikely.
Brand has landed in hot water in the past. He hosted the recent MTV music awards in the US, to an audience not familiar with him, and was widely acknowledged to have bombed. At best, Americans thought he was just not funny. At worst, they thought he was extreemly offensive.
The BBC is under unprecedented pressure to crack down on offensive material after an intervention by the Prime Minister and 10,000 complaints over its decision to broadcast obscene phone calls made by two of its biggest stars.
Mark Thompson, the BBC Director-General, maintained his silence on the conduct of Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand for a third day despite a growing clamour for an explanation as to how pre-recorded taunts directed at Andrew Sachs, the 78-year-old Fawlty Towers actor, went on air.
The radio transmission on October 18 included Ross shouting on to Sachs’s answerphone that Brand had slept with his granddaughter Georgina Baillie, 23, and Brand joking that the actor might kill himself. Ms Baillie has called for the pair to be sacked.