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Open and shut case?

Rod McKenzie Rod McKenzie | 11:24 UK time, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Ten thousand complaints and rising. Questions in the House from outraged MPs. Gordon Brown calls it "inappropriate and unacceptable". BBC radio boss Tim Davie apologises unreservedly and uses the "unacceptable" word too. Ofcom and the BBC Trust circle menacingly. And the woman at the centre of it all, Georgina Baillie, reportedly tells the Sun she wants them sacked.

Radio 1 logoYou'll have your own views about what Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross did during that prank call to actor Andrew Sachs.

But if you thought the British public believe it's an open and shut case against the Radio 2 pair, maybe it's time for a rethink.

Audiences across the BBC are responding in very different ways. My colleagues on Radio 4, 5Live, in television and the World Service are reporting, broadly speaking, condemnation. Younger audiences are saying something different in our experience.

The first clue came when we started reporting the story on Monday and we noted an unusually silent response from Radio 1's 10.5 million listeners. As the story grew, splashed on the tabloids and featuring prominently in many of the broadsheets -a response began. But a different one.

Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross"Get over it: a fuss about nothing," was typical. Some listeners texted in to point out that Ross and Brand were there to appeal to younger audiences with edgy humour. Not every gag by alternative comics hits the mark, does it? Errors of judgement are surely not a sacking offence? And anyway it was funny, wasn't it?

So the media storm grows. There's anger: some genuine, some of it synthetic. Some of it comes from the BBC's usual critics. For media folk profile and salary-envy and schaedenfreude may play a part in all this. But how many heard the original transmission and how many are responding to the newspapers' quotes or others' arguments? I'm not here to defend or attack anyone - but there is an alternative view we are seeing strongly expressed by our young audience which is certainly worth wider consideration.

The prime minister's intervention amazed some listeners: "The financial markets are wrecked and all he can do is talk about a petty joke." Also: "Everybody needs to calm down"; "Anybody who thinks it's disgusting should get a grip"; "Why should they be punished? This is the normal chit-chat of a man"; "It was funny, a joke. People are so boring"; "Leave Russell alone"; "Russell is hilarious"; "Jonathan Ross is a great presenter"; "Hey, they are comedians - it's their job". And the favourite phrase: "It's been blown out of all proportion."

When we started covering the story on Newsbeat - the audience response was running two-to-one in Ross's and Brand's favour - now it's swelled to six-to-one. David Sillito's excellent piece on the News at Ten on Tuesday illustrated this with a "vox pop" of older and younger audiences to BBC shows.

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Very different views, as reflected by Radio 1's audience.

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Still an open and shut case?


Page 1 of 7

  • Comment number 1.

    Rod, I'm not your biggest fan - but thank goodness someone is giving an alternative view on this story. The Daily Mail hype on this story is overblown to the point where neither of these guys can get a 'fair hearing'. I don't approve of what they did [only hearing it afterwards].

    But Brand himself did a good show when he was interviewing Oliver Stone, although this has just not been mentioned in the paper.

    And the fatuous attempt by the Mail to drive traffic to their website by reporting on the lady in question, on the same day we read about shorter sentences for the murderers of two goths is an irony not lost on all of us.

    To be honest, I would be more offended if I got phone messages from Alan Titchmarsh left on my voice-mail.

    The BBC cannot be a bastion of middle-class dullness and wall to wall Alan Titchmarch - we might as well all go and run off Beachy Head if things ever got that 'safe' on the Beeb..

    The key thing here is that the show itself can be as risque as they like - people can switch off. Mr Sachs didn't have a choice to receive those messages on his ansafone, and that was wrong - but a public lynch mob is not the answer.

  • Comment number 2.

    The ACTUAL 'crime' committed by Ross & Brand was fairly minor, however its not a million miles away from happy-slapping a pensioner and putting it on Youtube. Andrew Sachs was upset by it and his distress is apparently considered entertainment by two clowns who are grotesquely overpaid by the public.

    Brand and Ross's big mistake seems to have been that Andrew Sachs is actually very popular with the public. Sadly I suspect that if they'd picked on someone less popular they'd have got away with it.

    The fact that this material was apparently pre-approved by the BBC means that the BBC now have no moral highground when it comes to criticising anti-social behaviour. Its terrible if some hoodies make threatening phone calls to an OAP but O.K is someone on 6 million a year does it?

    I'm 31 and listen to Radio 1 out of choice. Do I count as one of your younger listeners? Its also worth pointing out that Chris Moyles this morning refused to discuss the incident apparently under orders from higher up.

  • Comment number 3.

    A massive right wing media led assassination of the BBC, presumably in retaliation for giving the Osbourne story so much prominence last week.

    Rod, I'd like to believe that not just this 30-something listener of Radio 1 has a common sense approach to this whole affair but many others as well.

    I'm glad that the BBC has edgy talent that is not necessarily 'safe'. Leave the comfortable slippers brigade to the Sunday evening slot on ITV.

    Fact is that only a tiny proportion of the population listened to the broadcast and those that were listening no doubt enjoyed and appreciated the humour involved.

    Today's decision to suspend Brand and Ross is grossly offensive to the massive amount of younger license fee payers who don't believe that the great age of comedy ended with Alf Garnett.

  • Comment number 4.

    Comedians they may be, but in Scotland when we refer to someone as a comedian it usually means something different from the meaning in the Oxford dictionary. Leaving obscene messages on a 78 year old's answering machine is not funny, it is bullying of the worst kind, and it is an infringement of the man in question's right to privacy. Both Ross and Brand should have their contracts terminated and should be offered no further employment with what is a National corporation. Tim Davie as the person ultimately responsible should also have his employment terminated. The assertion that this type of behaviour is acceptable in todays society is probably one of the reasons why a proportion of today's youth ( not by any means a lot, but enough ) have grown up with no regard for the property or rights of their fellow human beings.It is wrong for anyone in authority at the BBC to condone or attempt to justify the continued employment of these two disgracefully behaved young men who themselves would be first to complain if the same sort of infringement of their rights had been perpetrated. The BBC hiearchy , who, at the end of the day are paid by the taxpayer, (not by the fashionable few who see Brand and Ross as folk heroes ) should now demonstrate to all thse employed on the taxpayer's behalf that their behaviour must be of an acceptable standard and that they are not indispensible.

  • Comment number 5.

    This is of course a complete over reaction from the BBC, spurred on by the press (who are only interested in forcing a newsworthy outcome if at all possible) and politicians desperate to distract us from their own embarrassing errors of judgement....of which there are many. In the week after the broadcast, the BBC received 2 complaints, and that is about all it is worth. Leave the regulator to decide on the punishment and allow Ross and Brand to continue to do what they do best, entertaining the nation. They are highly talented entertainers and now we must all suffer their loss because of a politically correct minority and a BBC management worried about the licence fee.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    The issue here is that two grown men have acted in a morally disgraceful way. It's not funny to phone someone up and swear and boast about a sexual act with that person's grandchild no matter who they are. It's not funny to do this on a radio show where other impressionable people are listening. I'm all for edgy, pushing irreverent, humour such as that on programmes such as Mock the Week, but this was downright disgusting and not funny. No wonder that our younger people struggle to find their moral compass in our society when two such high profile figures, one old enough to be a grandfather himself, set this example.
    As a BBC Licence fee payer, how do I go about reclaiming the portion that pays these two irresponsible's inflated salary's?
    They should go.

  • Comment number 9.

    "Still an open and shut case?"


    It's a sad commentary on the world we live in that so many of the Radio 1 audience apparently don't give a toss about other people's feelings and sensibilities.

    It was wrong and if the average Radio 1 listener doesn't understand that they need some education.

  • Comment number 10.

    Young people, men in particular, frequently brag about sexual conquests. What they often learn is that they cause distress and lose respect by doing so.
    Bragging about it very publicly to a relative has an element of cruelty and persecution about it and in this instance does appear to have caused some genuine distress.
    It is worth reading (and watching) what Georgina Baillie has to say on this.

    Phone stunts are a staple of youth orientated radio shows nowadays, inevitably there is pressure to outdo each other. I think this is really a matter of setting boundaries as to what is acceptable?

    Some found it funny; then again some would find any situation where pain and humiliation is inflicted on others funny. Others see it as edgy humour that misfired; in other words it didn`t work. But it comes down to consequences and responsibilities. Is the BBC willing to set boundaries as to what is and isn`t acceptable? In many ways that is the subtext of this debate about a wider context.

  • Comment number 11.

    What makes me laugh is the how the number of complaints have risen to drastically.
    Hardly anybody would have heard it first hand, so presumably they have deliberately sought it out listened to it and then complained.
    Same as people, who watch TV and the complain. Turn it off or turn it over and stop moaning!

  • Comment number 12.

    I think it is a pretty open and shut case...

    After the BBC did their investigation, they came to an acceptable decision.

  • Comment number 13.

    I can not believe all the hype surrounding this, and the fact that Ross and Brand have now been suspended is a bigger outrage than the original joke.

    It's clear to see that it was just a joke and an apology by each on their respective programmes should have been enough. If people were 6-1 in favour of Brand and Ross then why on earth have they been suspended.

  • Comment number 14.

    Apparently repeating what was said on a certain BBC radio show by certain BBC DJ about certain instructions he recieved from the BBC high command this morning has lead to my comment #2 vanishing off to mod-land.

    I think this rather proves my point about the BBC's lack of response. That or the fact that a 31 year old Radio 1 listener who thinks Brand and Ross are grossly overpaid and deserve every bit of flack they're getting is perhaps upsetting your 6:1 ratio?

  • Comment number 15.

    Yes, I think it is right to suspend them. Their apologies seemed far from genuine, and had a member of the public or an employee of any other company committed a similar act they would have been sacked and or arrested.
    However, little point if they are to be suspended at full pay and also a pointless task to fine the BBC: this just results in the public fee payer ultimately paying the price for their arrogant and juvenile behaviour.

  • Comment number 16.

    Your Director General seems to think it's an open and shut case. He's just popped up from his holiday hideout and suspended them both. Argue the matter with him.

  • Comment number 17.

    Come on BBC get some backbone. If anyone should be suspended then it should be the people responsible for allowing the infamous sketch to be broadcast.

    When famous actors swear in out take shows no one complains because it was edited out.

    Dont pick on the talent - stand up for them and how much someone gets paid is irrelevent. I'm sure a few people at ITV and Five get paid loads but i still find most of their broadcast material offensive. Lets not even mention the daily mail, i have to watch my blood pressure.

  • Comment number 18.

    It's sad that our younger listeners don't see what was wrong with this.

    It was rude, bullying and, most importantly, unfunny.

    It turns out that Russell Brand and the young lady did have a relationship (her statement) in 2006.

    Russell was simply revealing something about his involvment with Mr Sach's grand daughter that no reasonable man would tell an ex-girlfriend's grandfather or, indeed, anybody else at all.

    As I say, I am surprised they can't see this.

    It shows a distinct inability to empathise and I wonder how the comments/opinions are split between male and females? I can't imagine many girls would want details of their lovelife broadcast within their social circle let alone to the nation.

  • Comment number 19.

    To respond to "Turn it off or turn it over and stop moaning!" (Lookupsport 12:25pm on 29 Oct)

    You've missed the point - it's one thing to have rude humour on a show where everyone is participating willingly. It's not my taste, but I'll let it pass.

    It's another to insult and humiliate someone like this who's done nothing to deserve it. That's what I object to, and that's worthy of a complaint.

    Other people are human too, with all the same feelings and emotions you have. That's worth remembering sometimes.

  • Comment number 20.

    The BBC has gone OTT with this story! Just drop it. The country is in the grip of financial crisis and recession, home reposessions are up 70% and the BBC's top story is about Russell Brand and J. Ross!

    This is not newsworthy, Sachs complained and the complaint should have been dealt with within the BBC and between the presenters, Mr Sachs and the BBC. A public apology and thats that.

    Give it a rest, there is more important stuff happening.

  • Comment number 21.

    This is just a diversion.

    Two complaints before the anti-BBC press got on their collective high horses.

    And what have we missed in the meantime?

    Oh, yes, Ofcom has just slammed Sky for broadcasting 2,500 - yes TWO AND A HALF THOUSAND - illegal messages again Virgin Media.

    OVER TWENTY HOURS OF ILLEGAL BROADCASTS FROM SKY - interest from The Sun and The Times = NIL.

    Ten minutes of comedy on the radio = massive stink from the press.

    And if you don't like Brand or Ross, don't listen. Simple as.

    No one has a right NOT to be insulted.

  • Comment number 22.

    What to show in place of "Friday Night With Jonathan Ross"? Simple - "Fawlty Towers".

  • Comment number 23.

    I think you're missing the point. I have no problem with Brand and Ross behaving like obnoxious 5-year-olds in their own radio programmes if they want to. Their listeners know what to expect, and anyone who is offended by their particular variety of "humour" doesn't need to tune in.

    In this case, however, they left grossly offensive messages on Andrew Sachs's answering machine. Sachs has every right to be offended and upset: he didn't choose to receive the messages, they were imposed on him. The fact that this was broadcast on BBC Radio is unfortunate, but not really the point.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't leaving obscene messages illegal? I doubt Sachs will choose to press charges, but even so, I think Brand and Ross's behaviour is absolutely disgraceful, and in most situations would be a sacking offence. It is a sad comment on the extent to which the BBC has bought into the cult of celebrity that they haven't yet been sacked. Let's hope that their suspension is just the first step towards that outcome.

  • Comment number 24.

    6:1 ratio in favour of Brand and Ross. Really? Perhaps you should look at the most recommended comments on Have Your Say if you want a different perspective on the audience reaction.

  • Comment number 25.

    There is no excuse on Earth that justifies the comments made by Ross and Brand on Andrew Sachs' answer phone. I don't understand why anyone thinks it is OK for Russell Brand to use his position as a radio broadcaster to make a personal attack on someone. It is not cutting edge comedy but pathetic playground bully-boy behavior. However, the broadcasters are the real culprits in this furore. They had several days in which to make a supposedly educated decision as to whether to edit the prank calls. They are not 'fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants' comedians and should have had the sense to remove the segment from the show and ensure that Ross and Brand made a private apology to Both Sachs and his granddaughter. None of this need ever have reached the public arena and someone in that production team, if not higher, should be held responsible. Brand and Ross have damaged their reputation enough anyway.

  • Comment number 26.

    both ross and brand are presenters not comics there concept of humour has been done in and around clubs for years and to be honest they are not very good at it.
    they should be dealt with only becouse they are a disgrace to the bbc and offended so many.
    having seen the transcript i am in total agreement they should be suspended unpaid untill its fully looked into.
    if guilty then its up to the management of the bbc to proportion blame and remove or chastise those at fault.
    bland brand himself could end up presenting songs of praise as pennance whilst getting humour lessons from true comics.
    ross needs to learn how to review movies as his reviews of late are very biased as if he has been paid off, his film show has been a flop over the past few years.
    his friday night show can be dropped in favour of a blank screen it would be more interesting.
    these pair are just the latest of these celeb types that have fallen foul of companies and the public it seems there is an increase in these fools being hired by inept management of media companies.

  • Comment number 27.

    It is ridiculous over-sensationalism. Why on earth did our Prime Minister think it important enough to comment upon.

    Good God Britain, what are we coming to when two men (who have apologised) are being demonised for a stupid prank what on earth are we going to do next.

  • Comment number 28.

    If young people think such foul and tasteless behaviour is acceptable, I suggest it's because their sense of decency has been warped by too much exposure to the likes of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross.

    By the way, I'm 22. Is that young enough to have an opinion on this? Or do you prefer to take your editorial guidance from 12-year-olds?

  • Comment number 29.

    Defending Ross and Brand on the grounds of freedom of speech is just wrong. As scriptwriters know, there is no such thing as freedom of speech at the BBC - not in the Drama department, at any rate. Ross and Brand deserve condemnation, not only because of their crass and stupid stunt but because they are symptomatic of a broader problem. The BBC has been stupid to invest so much in a handful of variable talents. The corporation has helped to create the inanities of today's celebrity culture. Any editorial system that works on the basis of celebrities can do no wrong and other creatives must be muzzled has been sleepwalking towards disaster for some time. This is no longer merely a question of 'taste' or 'censorship'. The reaction of the public strongly suggests that the licence fee payers - the consumers - are tired of being treated with contempt by programme-makers and commissioning editors. It's time for a radical rethink of how the BBC works, how it sees itself and how it is managed.

  • Comment number 30.

    #9, I absolutely agree. Frankly I think this says more about the audience of Radio 1, a station which has pitched itself to the sort of callow, shallow, skinny-jeaned 'yoof' who have little regard for appropriate behaviour provided they get their 'fix' of entertainment, usually at another's expense. I'm just sad to see the once-excellent Radio 2 - an alternative for those of all ages to the rubbish being churned out on R1 - now doggedly following its teen-oriented stable-mate into the gutter.

    The fact remains that this was not only offensive and yes, a form of bullying, but most likely illegal. Last I heard it was still an offence in this country to phone an effective stranger unannounced and use abusive and sexually degrading language, whether to their face or to a voicemail recorder. Brand and Ross are lucky they're not being prosecuted over this.

    And this blog post smacks of typical Beeb self-satisfaction; attacking those who disagree with you in order to undermine and marginalise their legitimate concerns. This is absolutely not why I pay the license fee, and quite frankly i resent it being used in such a manner when the quality of your reportage of the major social issues that will come to affect us all (see my comments about obesity on another thread) seems to be rapidly declining.

    Frankly I'm glad this is now being discussed in the corridors of power. I think the mainstream media has become puerile in its attempts to appeal to the lowest common denominator and increasingly bereft of creativity or any sort of system of checks or balances on content. I don't often agree with David Cameron but I think he's right in saying that this should trigger a debate about the role of the media, why 'standards' and 'taste' have become dirty words and whether the media should be trying to enrich and benefit society or acting as an irresponsibly negative and disruptive influence upon it.

    Unfortunately I think that, going on past cases such as that of Richard Bacon, it is more likely that there will be an on-air apology tucked away at 3am, a token fine (payable from license revenues) and even if those involved are sacked, the 'controversy' will increase their notoriety and hence their marketability to other broadcasters. The whole thing will be quickly forgotten, and not one thing will change.

  • Comment number 31.

    It's all just typical of this country - there is always an uproar about something, we love nothing more than complaining. I feel like everyone is just jumping on the bandwagon. Thousands of bored middle aged, middle class people looking for someone else to blame for something. I think they should all get a life and maybe focus their energy on something worthwhile like charity work.

    I am a fan of Jonathan Ross, and I would be very sorry to see him sacked for this. I really don't think it would be fair to end someone's (very successful) career for one mistake.

  • Comment number 32.

    No body complained for a week before the Daily Mail started banging their drum and then people who hadn't even heard the programme complained.

    I totally agree – why is this leading the news?

  • Comment number 33.

    Oh, and another thing:

    "Errors of judgement are surely not a sacking offence?"

    Well, it's true that we all make errors of judgement from time to time. But it's equally true that we don't all have seven digit salaries. When you're paying someone that much money, you have every right to expect their judgement to be flawless, not for them to behave like a total git.

    Sack the pair of them.

  • Comment number 34.

    A lot of fuss about nothing, much more of a non-story than the Osborne story last week.

    I'm no great fan of either but I don't think they should have been suspended.

    It has also become a political football and used now by both parties to have a go at the beeb.

    As for the Mail, well they don't have any hidden agenda in this affair now do they.

    I really depair at the flog 'em attitude that many are showing on this minor story, many celebrities have done a lot worse things than this but don't seem to get the same totally out of proportion reaction.

    Get a life people and get over yourselves.

  • Comment number 35.

    It would be a very sad day if the BBC responded to tabloid pressure and lose the talent of Ross and Brand.
    A handful of people may have not liked it but the thousands responding now are simply voting against salary payments.
    To put it simply if you pay peanuts you get monkeys. Talent like Ross and Brand should not come cheap and they deserve their salary and more. People are simply voting about salary and not the remarks made.
    Gordon Brown should get a grip it may be tthe BBC but it has nothing to do with him. He should concntrate on losing the next election or having the courage to call one.
    Its just another example of political correctness gone mad.
    For the record what does the grandaughter do, good bit of publicity for her that I'm sure she is enjoying.


  • Comment number 36.

    Sigh. Yet again the Editors Blog is used as a vehicle to make pathetic excuses to justify the increasingly poor standards to which the BBC is sinking. It doesn't do you any favours trying to make excuses or saying "it wasn't that bad really".

    Perhaps you should ask your colleague Rory Cellan-Jones how to write a blog when you've screwed up. In one of his recent blogs (, he owned up to having got some things wrong. Good for him. Rory's blog deserves our respect. This blog only deserves our contempt.

  • Comment number 37.

    As a 'younger' radio1 listening member of the public I would suggest that Brand and Ross were not funny but quite offensive. I can imagine how my grandparents would feel if they were on the receiving end of such bullying. Ross is never funny - just rude and arrogant and how he has come to command such status within the BBC is beyond me. Brand can be amusing but has really overstepped the mark on this occasion. Suspension (presumably on full pay) is not enough - they should both go!

  • Comment number 38.

    The BBC and BBC Trust have some explaining to do over the Mandelson-Corfu affair. This popular diversion will not get in the way of a proper process that must be entered into in order to rid the BBC of its bias and a proper investigation of its campaign against the George Osborne.

  • Comment number 39.

    As #23. It doesn't really matter what anyone's audience thinks. The fact is that two people paid an incredibly large amount of money on the basis of their quality somehow thought it'd be a good idea to harass an old man on his answerphone, something that is not only quite pathetic but also against the law: section 43 of the 1984 Telecommunications Act states:

    "A person who—
    sends, by means of a public telecommunication system, a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or
    sends by those means, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, a message that he knows to be false or persistently makes use for that purpose of a public telecommunication system,
    shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to [F1 imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale or both].

    If this was anyone other than Brand, Ross or Moyles then they would be out on their ear in short order but for some reason the BBC superstars get carte blanche to break the law on air and get away with it.

    Off with their heads.

  • Comment number 40.

    Thank goodness there are sensible views like this being expressed.

    Yes, Brand and Ross' joke was in bad taste. They took it too far. And it probably shouldn't've been broadcast either. But a proper apology should've sufficed.

    To echo all those with common sense, this has indeed been blown out of all proportion, no doubt thanks to few other interesting news stories and residual hatred for Ross' huge salary. Has anyone been watching the ITV lunchtime news? Alastair Stewart has been taking his usual ham-fisted over-sensational glee in reporting. Never knowingly a good journalist, that man.

    Their suspension is ludicrous and I hope they're reinstated soon.

    Incidentally, I have precisely 0 sympathy for Sachs' granddaughter, who appears to be using it to further her career... whatever her career is.

  • Comment number 41.

    Oh, and also, it's not really fair complaining about "secondary" complainants - of course the people who think phoning people up and being abusive to them don't listen to Brand, Ross or Moyles - that doesn't mean they can't be deeply disappointed in the BBC for letting them get away with it.

  • Comment number 42.


    Great post! If the Beeb are taking their decisions based on the views of 12 year olds, that certainly explains a lot.

  • Comment number 43.

    Yes, it's an open and shut case. Illegal, offensive, gratuitiously obscene and anti-social behaviour, contrary to to a whole raft of guidelines and rule that the BBC usually boasts about adhering to ... how much more "open and shut" do you want???

    The fact that a generation of younger listeners and viewers, groomed by the likes of Ross and Brand into thinking that this kind of behaviour is "normal", can't now see the problem, shows just how damaging - just how much of a public DIS-service - their influence over the years has been.

  • Comment number 44.

    I think this has been blown out of proportion and the wrong people are taking the blame.

    Ross and Brand are paid to do a job and hopefully are given guidelines.
    The outline of the content should have been agreed before recording commenced.
    In stunts like this it is unusual to actually leave the messages on the real answerphone.
    The producer was in control of the recording and could/should have pulled the plug as soon as guidelines were breached.
    Post production review should have blocked transmission if it broke guidelines.
    Most complaints come from people who didn't even hear the original broadcast.

    If anyone is going to be sacked then it is those that allow this to be produced and broadcast not those who are paid to push the boundaries of acceptability.

    And before you ask I'm not a member of the young target audience of these shows I'm 56 and happen to think that these two are providing entertainment for millions not just the few who complain.

  • Comment number 45.

    Don't you think it's just a little bit ironic that you think it's OK for Brand and Ross to use the kind of language they did on air, but my post to Have Your Say was rejected, presumably on the grounds that the word I used to describe them (scumbags) was offensive?

  • Comment number 46.

    @ reply #30 (Richie79) – the audience of Radio 1 know there are much more important things going on that it needs to be informed about.

    It is as simple as that.

  • Comment number 47.

    This illustrates clearly the reason why the licence fee is no longer defneible. If the writer is so lacking in taste that he can defend this appalling conduct then he is not fit to be employed by the BBC.

    Had I done something like this I would expect to be sacked forthwith. In fact, I doubt if I would have finished the day in post. And quite right too.

    It was, and is, unacceptable. How do I apply for a refund of my licence fee?

  • Comment number 48.

    This does seem to be getting out of hand. E4's Fonejacker does much the same thing, without comment from the thousands of people who are supposedly exercised about this. Victor Lewis Smith's Channel 4 programme featured bogus calls to celebrities - phoning Derek Nimmo to say the Queen Mother had died, phoning Hughie Green to ask if he'd had sex with Lena Zavaroni. Those shows were offensive, but where was the backlash? I think some people simply don't care for Brand and Ross and their incomes. Now that Gordon Brown has weighed in on the crisis, we wait for a pronouncement from Mr Obama and Mr McCain.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    Two observations:

    a. some (perhaps many) of us have complained not just about the broadcast of the Brand/Ross calls but also (and more) about the BBC's response to them. That response (if one is generous and calls a late apology and a retreat to the bunkers a "response") was a gift to those who would like to end the BBC's special status;

    b. if young(ish) people favoured the broadcast of Brand/Ross "happy slapping" Neil Kinnock and stealing his wallet would that make it OK?

    And one "money where your mouth is" question. Would Mr McKenize care to put his private tel. no. on the blog so we can all leave him some funny messages?

  • Comment number 51.

    I believe that the reason this has become top news would have something to do with the fact that some basic moral values have been trampled by two individuals who are paid ridiculous amounts of money for their dubious talents. This is money handed over in good faith by the general public. MONEY! It goes to the root of all our worries and concerns with the current financial climate and it grates just that little bit more when people, who will be untouched by the unmentionable recession, can behave in such a disrespectful manner. That would be disrespectful to those individuals who collectively pay their salaries.

    When you have paid a raft of bills for at least 20 years and raised a couple of decent human beings, then and only then will you have the experience to make a judgement on issues like this. I wonder how old the production team on this show are...

  • Comment number 52.

    Mr Mackensie

    Over 40 years ago I worked in a weekend job at Heathrow with Mac (Ian MacKlennan) of the Small Faces (who was recently on the Johnathan Ross R2 Saturday show when Ross was on holiday.) before he and his mate Rod "the oldest paper boy in Greenford" Stewart got famous.

    Mac without fear stood up for another lowly worker who was called a "Spastic" by the son of the senior manager were we worked.

    It is a great shame that the values Mac (and Rod) espouse have not been taken up by modern teen "idols".

  • Comment number 53.

    "And if you don't like Brand or Ross, don't listen. Simple as."

    - True - but I still have to pay for them and that's what I object to.

    Put them on commercial radio where they belong then those who want to listen to them can and those of us who object to their puerile humour don't have to pay their wages. It's a win-win situation, which means that it will get ignored!

  • Comment number 54.

    Rod, you so miss the point. For the £3,700,000,000 you relaxed lot at the BBC get we the tax payers demand a highly moral level of behaviour. Encouraging high standards not pushing them them down. If you don't understand I think you should go work in the real economy where pay is lower, pensions have been crushed and upsetting customers gets you fired.

  • Comment number 55.

    Oh dear, Rod. If you are representative of the level of policital savvy of the BBC management, I really do fear for the future of public broadcasting in the UK.

    I really hope for your sake you posted your blog BEFORE the two guys in question had been suspended. Otherwise your big boss is gonna be, well, cheesed off with you, shall we say!

    I am 26, just in case you think I must be a geriatric Tory from Tunbridge Wells because I am not buying into your view of the world.

    Which brings me to the point, finally - the issue is not whether it is an open or shut case, or what you or I or anyone else thinks of this or of the two men involved.

    The issue is that what has transpired has caused serious problems for your employer, that a legal view may be that it is unlawful, and that I felt real anger when I read your blog.

    I was angry because it could have been my grandfather, it could have been me or my sister getting a phone call from a radio prankster and being publicly humiliated.

    The point that I have not seen anyone else make is that this could happen to anyone, given the right circumstances. If it is OK for the BBC to do this to whatever his name is and his granddaughter, it is OK for the BBC to do it to anyone.

    So tell me, Rod, is it OK to do it to anyone?

  • Comment number 56.

    from 'krankzinnig':
    why should listeners to Radio 2, perceived as 'fuddy duddy' by their counterparts on, for example, Radio 1, take some the flak over this event, they are not the perpetrators? In the first place they are more likely to be licence payers and therefore have a stake in what is broadcast. Secondly, it is premature for anyone to call for heads to roll, so let's take a step back from this and patiently await notice of what action the DG intends to take. Then, and only then, will it be appropriate for people to air their views on the matter and, if necessary, take sides.

  • Comment number 57.

    Radio 2 is not Russell Brand's natural home. My dislike of his broadcasts is inflamed by his shrill tones taking the place of a pefectly good music programe that used to run on Radio 2 on a Saturday night. If Radio 1 listeners like him so much, (and if he is allowed back), cut his salary, provide him with a chaperone and reschedule his progrmme so he can twitter away to his heart's content to people who get his " cutting edge humour".

  • Comment number 58.

    Fundamentally whats the difference between Brand & Ross leaving offensive messages on a 78 year old man's answer phone and happy-slapping on youtube? In both cases it would seem that someone elses distress is considered entertainment.

    Last month I had some kids throw a brick through my car windscreen 'for a laugh' (their words to the police- they were too young to prosecute and told the cop as much). I wasn't laughing and neither it seems is Sachs.

    Perhaps this attitude: by 'entertainers' earning more in a week than I earn in a year explain why kids think mindless, distressing acts are acceptable.

  • Comment number 59.

    The british public (paragraph 3) in a vox pop would bring back hanging, would want to know the addresses of felons, would not pay so much tax but have better services;

    The Radio 2 audience has been demographically changed over the past number of years. The people who used to listen now no longer do.

    Your case, Mr McKensie, is that the new audience you want for your show ought to get the presentations they want - regardless of offence to race, creed, age or sensibilities???

    I think not. Our country does not legislate against annoyance or disagreement, but we do have laws against offensive behaviour.

  • Comment number 60.

    i cannot understand how some people are saying it was just a bit of fun what is so funny about a women been abused on a radio show and the grandfather been sent the sick texts .lets see how long they laugh when they both lose there jobs over this . i hope they are proud of themselfs and 4 ross i hope his daughters never have there private love lives dragged through the media like that grandfather has

  • Comment number 61.

    I am a regular listener to both Jonathon and Russel's shows. Firstly Russel is in general a resposnible broadcaster but we love him because he is dangerous, unpredictable and risque. Throughout the broadcast in question it is clear (to those who actually listen) that he is shocked by Jon's comments [and it is ros' comments alone that are to blame] and immeiately tries to right the situation. Secondly both of them were under the impression that as the show is not live that they are protected by the systems which regulate all out put from terestrial television. In my opinion it is the complyance department that should be repromanded not two of our foremost entertainers. I am disgusted that we should let these silly boys be hung out to dry while the support struture behind them cower like the cowards they are.

    The suspenion is perhaps a fitting punishment for such bad behavoir but it should be extended to the staff who allowed it to happen.

  • Comment number 62.

    If the Brand or Ross had made an offensive racist remark (even if apparently in jest) they would have been, quite rightly, suspended immediately and then fired.

    What they said was just offensive as any racist comment and they should suffer the same fate.

    Some contributors to this bulletin board though, seem to think that because I did not hear the original Radio 2 programme I have no right to comment. Would they say the same if it had been a racist joke? I think not.

    Being cruelly offensive is just as despicable whether it is about race or sex.

  • Comment number 63.

    Couple of things to add to this.

    First off; I wouldn't have said that the media has been sensationalising the story thus far: at least no more than they normally do. Considering it is their job to spice things up a little bit I would've said that it's fair enough.

    Secondly, to the idea that "young people" could be so easily lead astray is horrendously outdated. As one of these "young people" I feel more insulted by the incinuation that we have no moral compass. Or at least more insulted than I would be if someone pranked me.

    What they said/did, in the scheme of things, is no big deal really. It grates me the amount of money we give the BBC to fund these salaries more than what the people do or say. If people think that the main bulk of listeners are naive enough to be persuaded or guided by two comedians (being the operative word) then they need a rethink.

    The fact that the "incident" has attracted quite so much interest (Brown etc.) is quite frightening considering the state of the country. Put them next to each other and I know which one worries me more.

    As people have said before me: if you do not like something, do not switch on.

  • Comment number 64.

    This is not about the comfortable slippers brigade. Its a about common decency. No I didnt listen to the programme and yes I choose to turn this sort of rubbish off. What it sadly reflects is the younger generation (not all fortunately) have lower moral values. I think Rod McKenzie has got it badly wrong when he talks of jealousy of fat salaries. I think what most people would think is , why would you pay a pair of childish imbeciles like this so much money. It defies common sense.

  • Comment number 65.

    This is not about 'lack of' comedy it is about the law. Opinions may vary but the law applies to all of us and these two have been guilty of a high level of bullying. Perhaps some people don't understand this but I would expect an editor to which is why I am very disappointed in this blog entry.
    Check the law on bullying in the workplace (and the definition of bullying), it can be enforced under discrimination or harrassment law and people judged guilty can considered to have performed an act of 'gross misconduct' and be immediatedly dismissed. These two were working, or at least being paid for their time, and so the law should be applied to them. All people have to accept that bullying isn't funny and it isn't clever; and that it can cost them their job.

  • Comment number 66.

    I am absolutely outraged by the level of attention being drawn to this story. I listened to the show a few days after it was broadcast, and although I found the phone calls to be slightly below the belt - they caused no personal offence, and it was not until over a week later that all of a sudden there are thousands of complaints. I find it unbelievable to say the least that these '10,000' or so individuals listened to the show in its entirety, yet took a week to pipe up and note their offence.

    There are two issues here - firstly that Brand and Ross made inappropriate comments on a personal answer phone, and secondly that these were later deemed OK to be broadcast on the BBC. As for the former it was undoubtedly wrong - a fact which has been acknowledged by both comedians, who have in turn apologised. However, this incident has been irrationally amplified by the fact that somebody allowed it to be broadcast. If anybody should be sacked over this - it should be them.

    I am astonished that Brand and Ross are now being used as scapegoats for this nameless person(s) mistake, a result inevitably of the media storm and witch hunt cooked up by the tabloids. It would highly inappropriate of the Beeb to fire the stars, firstly for somebody else’s misjudgement and secondly because this is exactly the kind of racy humour that the BBC has encouraged and that have produced such large viewing figures. The majority of complainants probably aren’t regular viewers/listeners and would most likely have something to complain about every week if they were.

    The only rational conclusion I can come up with is that everybody – the media included – needs this ‘smokescreen’ as a distraction away from the imminent demise of the pound, and our dire economic situation. It is no wonder that Gordon Brown felt the need to comment, as he is the man responsible for the countries worries. Doesn’t he have anything better to be doing, like um I don’t know – running our county into the ground?

    As for Sachs’ granddaughter, I fully respect that she wishes to preserve her dignity; however, this is not obtained by working as an erotic dancer in a group called the Satanic Sluts. She has since admitted to sleeping with promiscuous Russell brand and is even ‘considering’ selling her story - hardly the actions of a distressed person. It would seem that if she does not wish to air her dirty laundry in public then maybe she shouldn’t first cast it off onto Russell Brand’s bedroom floor.

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 68.

    I don't think Brand or Ross are funny actually, I find them both decidedly UNfunny.

    When young, you have to learn what is appropriate and what is offensive - it's all part of growing up.

    It's a pity both of them, especially middle-aged Ross, seem to be a bit stunted and are taking SUCH a long time to grow up.

    The very sight of them offends me!!

  • Comment number 69.

    So the young liked it? Well that's all right then isn't it. Perhaps you could tell us what proportion of the licence fee comes from these supporters?

    Because you are sheltered from commercial reality you seem to have forgotten that it is by and large not the young who pay your wages, nor the 6m per year for Mr Ross.

    Some focus on the reaction from the bulk of the licence fee paying public would be appropriate - and as far as I can see they are rightly disgusted that their money is being abused by a bbc that has completely lost its way.

    Not to worry, you will be put out of your misery in the next decade when you will no longer be able to put two fingers up to us schmuck licence fee poll tax paying idiots.

  • Comment number 70.

    I like many others have not listened the programme but that should not stop me and others from complaining about the behaviour of the programme hosts and moreso when we can essentially see what happened was bullying. The argument that complaints from only those who have listened should be taken into account is flawed. Extending this flawed argument would mean that civil protests for varied issues, such as anti-war demostrations for Iraq or anti-GM demonstrations should only be done by people who are in Iraq or Vietnam or whose fields are being used for GM crops?
    Brand and Ross should be penalised for such improper behaviour and the fines they pay should not come from my license fee.

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    You're missing the point. Both Ross and Brand have a history of using the same offensive material. You only have to look at Brand's live shows to see that he sometimes makes 'prank' calls to the emergency services and Ross has frequently been vulgar and offensive to the people he interviews. What gives either of them the right to act in such a manner? They clearly have no respect for other people and consider themselves above reproach. Does earning a grossly undeserved salary make them oligarchs and above the law? Moreover, I am not one of the BBC's usual critics nor is my objection to Ross and Brand's inexcusable behaviour 'synthetic' as you dub it. There is no justification for their actions. Didn't Ross or anyone during the show think for one moment that what they were doing was going to cause offence or was possibly only 'funny' to a minority? If Ross had any integrity, he would have taken responsibility for their actions and stopped it way before it got so far. As it is, his apology and the extremely late apology by Brand was merely done in an attempt to preserve their bank balance.

  • Comment number 73.

    Just seen that there are a massive amount of posts that are awaiting pre-moderation. Isn't it a pity this wasn't the case with Ross and Brand's contribution?

  • Comment number 74.

    what's this constant obsession with being "edgy"?

    there's nothing edgy about not thinking before you open your trap, it's just plain stupid. do it to the wrong person and they knock your teeth out, that kind of stupid.

    I'm amazed at how relaxed Andrew Sachs is about the whole thing, showing real dignity where others very obviously have none.

    P.S. It's "Schadenfreude", not "schaedenfreude" because:

    a) it's a noun (see capitalization of nouns in the German language)


    b) it's singular - "a", not "ae"


  • Comment number 75.

    People saying 'it was funny' are missing the point, by many miles. The man who sprayed shaving foam on a disabled woman dying in a doorway thought it was funny, so did the crowd of onlookers who egged him on. And every school bully finds an audience ready to laugh as they humiliate their victim. If there is a generational gap revealed ... and the assumption here that Radio 1's audience epitomises all of the young is patently ludicrous, thank god... all the more reason to sack Brand now, because it's appalling and depressing that a segment of society doesn't realise why this broadcast was so offensive. To spell it out: it's because it's bullying and abusive. Not because it's 'edgy' or has naughty words in it. It's no different to teenage yobs yelling abuse at an old lady in the street. Shall we pay them hundreds of thousands of pounds too? Bullying is often funny, if you're too thick to empathise with the victim... but it's always wrong.

  • Comment number 76.

    I thought it was probably overhyped until I listened to the full recording on Youtube and was utterly shocked. Such abuse off radio would be criminal.

    It seems Brand has an obsession with boasting to parents and grandparents about his sexual conquests with their offspring (See Rod Stewart fiasco), he's also used the telephone for hoax calls to the police before. He obviously hasn't learnt anything from his past mistakes

    If anyone hasn't yet heard it I urge them to. Sack the both of them.

  • Comment number 77.

    And it another thought: it occurs to me that many of your readers may not realise just how tacky Radio One is nowadays. It's truly dreadful. The music is good of course, but check out the invasive inanity of the 'Flirt Alert', or listen to the listeners messages read out, about, for example, how someone so amusingly killed and ate their friend's pet rabbit. Bullying and cruelty is chortled over daily by the merry folk of Radio One, so of course many of their listeners don't see what's wrong with Brand. That's not a reason to defend Brand, that's a reason to give Radio One a thorough spring clean and get all the bullies off the air.

  • Comment number 78.

    Firstly, I can genuinely assure Rod that while I would like to see Ross sacked (although I realise that realistically it won't happen), I am also genuinely 29 years old. However, maybe I'm considered an 'older listener' now.

    It's a bit pathetic to whinge 'well younger listeners aren't offended'... firstly I'm a younger listener and I *was* offended (not so much by the comments themselves though they were bad - but the decision to leave the comments on Sachs' voicemail (regardless of whether he had agreed to an interview) which were tantamount to bullying).

    Anyway, so what if younger listeners think its OK? Radio 2 caters for a broad church- it isn't just a young persons' station.

    Let Brand and Ross do their own independent podcasts away from the Beeb where they can say what they like. Meanwhile let's use this opportunity ro try and claw back a bit of licence fee money from 'stars', please.

  • Comment number 79.

    What Mr Ross and Mr Brand did was offensive and indecent. I see no comedy of any genre.

    "Sachs 'not surprised' at suspensions
    By Tim Moynihan, PA
    Wednesday, 29 October 2008

    Actor Andrew Sachs today said he was "not surprised" Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand had been suspended by the BBC over their prank calls to him.

    And he confirmed he was not planning to take the matter up with the police.

    He said the pair had got it "badly wrong" and made a "poor team", but he was not seeking revenge.

    Mr Sachs was speaking on his return to his home in Kilburn, north London, just hours after it became known that the pair have been suspended.

    Asked his reaction to the news, he said: "I'm not surprised."

    Asked if he was going to take the matter up with the police, he said: "I'm not going to take it anywhere, I'm not out for revenge."

    Asked if he thought the BBC should have suspended the pair earlier, he said: "I wasn't counting the time, if it happens, it happens. If they are slow on it, it's a problem someone else has to take up."

    He said the matter was "very upsetting" not just for himself, but for his wife who is ill in hospital and other members of his family.

    "I'm very sorry it happened," he said.

    "These things happen, people get things wrong, in this case they got it badly wrong."

    Asked about a full transcript of the pair's remarks made public today, he said: "I haven't read the full transcript, but I've heard about some of it and it sounds ghastly.

    "How can grown-up, mature people do it? It's a very poor team, the two of them, if that's the result of it."

    Asked if he thought the BBC should make an example of them, he said: "That's up to the BBC, I'm neutral about it, I dare say the two of them are shattered, and the director nervous.

    "They may recover from it, and be all the better for it."

    Asked how he would feel if they were reinstated, he said: "I would have nothing more to say about it. That's up to other people. Whatever happens to them, they don't need me to add to it."

    He was asked about confirmation today that his granddaughter had a relationship with Brand.

    He said: "She's a grown-up woman, that's her choice, what grandfather tells his granddaughter what to do?"

    Asked if he was angry that the pair had not apologised to his granddaughter, he said: "Maybe they have. They haven't that I know of, but they have both apologised to me, sent very nice letters and flowers. I think they should apologise to her."

    He confirmed that items from the prank calls to his answer phone had been broadcast on Brand's show on Radio 2 without his approval.

    Asked what he thought the affair showed of the BBC, and whether it had deteriorated, he said: "In some ways it's better, there's some very good stuff on. Everybody goes for the extreme these days, for example people use swear words to excess, everything's extreme.""

  • Comment number 80.

    I cannot understand what all the fuss is about... I didn't hear the show, so I have no right to complain, seemingly unlike a large proportion of the public, who quite honestly seem to be more concerned about Jonathan Ross's salary than the sensibilities of the Sachs family. Of course the tabloids are blowing it out of all proportion (no change there then) and taking news space away from important things as usual.
    It was a silly prank that went too far. What did they expect when they put together the UK's two most overgrown teenagers it was a disaster waiting to happen.

    It appears that Mr Sachs wants all this to go away now, but not much chance of that since his indignant grandaughter has decided to chip in. Sleep with one of the UK's most notorious womanisers and then get all uptight because the fact gets broadcast to the nation and your Grandad. Then what do you do, instead of a quiet digniified no comment, you go to tell the Sun. Tastefull...

    I don't want them sacked... As a licence payer they cost me an awful lot and I want every single penny's worth out of them. The blame for all this lies squarely with the idiot who let this be broadcast. He should be the one sacked for not doing his job properly.

  • Comment number 81.

    Sorry, Rod, but saying that Radio 1's teenagers aren't offended, whilst it's the grown up on other channels complaining, doesn't justify the BBC's failure.

    Us grown ups pay the licence fee that pays for the BBC - the kids don't. And we don't like seeing our licence fee used to pay large fees to performers who then appear to have broken the law by making abusive calls.

    In any other situation where I pay for a service and am upset by the result, I can take my business elsewhere. With the BBC I'm stuck - I'm forced to pay the licence fee tax.

    That's why we grown ups are unhappy - we have to pay the BBC despite being offended by what it does with our money.

  • Comment number 82.

    Good to see that the BBC can still ensure a good number of loyal hacks and stooges (rent-a-mob) to put their case across. The cosseted arrogance knows no bounds. Still, it's only the taxpayer paying their massive salaries.

  • Comment number 83.

    Tell you what, if "young people" (just to join you in wild marketing-driven generalisation) like the BBC, Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross so much, let's abolish the licence fee and make the BBC a subscription channel so that its fan demographic can pay for it.

    If "young people" or any other artifical "target group" found it amusing to kick an elderly man to death in a park in an ironic way, would you find it necessary to pander to that?

    Oh, I know, the reductio ad absurdum is a dirty trick, a low device of ill-disciplined philosophy. Still, reading all of this I know where you stand on the subject of public service broadcasting. You couldn't give a damn about it - you're only interested in your target demographic. Well, the logic is in that case clear. You should be in the commercial sector.

    Don't know why I'm bothering to write any of this: the BBC is entirely, perpetually convinced of its own importance, greatness and infallibility. And being as how this is a BBC website, it also has the last

  • Comment number 84.

    There are two serious issues:

    1. Why are Ross and Brand paid so much to behave like immature adolescents. Surely they represent very poor value for money in comparison with many other funnier and more creative people.

    2. How can we have faith in the judgement of an editoriaal team which permitted this abuse to be broadcast.

  • Comment number 85.

    Sadly if this is what passes as humour at the BBC then it is clear why the comic output on BBC 1-3 over recent years has been so bad!

    I have laughed more from watching the news then some BBC comedies!

    I think the easiest way to look at the problem is to imagine that the people making the phone call and their victim were not famous - we would have two immature yobs (both old enough to know better) making repeated offensive phone calls to a pensioner.

    However, because the victim and the people making the call are famous it is considered comedy?

    Perhaps for their next double act Brand and Ross could post hard core porn through the door of an old woman - that would be a riot!

    Or how about they do some happy slapping?

  • Comment number 86.

    I am delighted that those two puerile, overpaid idiots have been removed. However, the programme controller should also go. It was his decision to broadcast.

  • Comment number 87.

    I am intrigued to see that Radio One listeners don't see the problem, nor editor Rob Mckenzie. This was an intrusion into the private life of several people with no justification. Radio One is a small proportion of the BBC audience and their opinion/intelligence is of little consequence--- as long as it is obscene it is funny.
    What is more concerning is that the BBC ignored the problem, then apologised and have now suspended Ross/Brand---too little too late.
    I hope BBC licence fee funding is removed as it is already a biased left wing propaganda tool------------if Sachs had been a moslem it would never have been aired

  • Comment number 88.

    Open and shut case?


    There were no questions like this asked about other BBC presenters who did recreational drugs in their private time - they were sacked on the spot. These two committed criminal offenses on public radio and on the job!

    Let it sink in for a second - a criminal offense is seen as humor these days!

    I am surprised that the Police is not investigating the incident as well - even though A. Sachs has not filed any charges and said he will not do so it has been brought to the public attention and should be followed up. They do it with Jo Blogs and his video on YouTube...

    Brand and Ross are so called role-models and should act that way. Sorry to think old fashioned, but anybody says things like this about my daughter and I have them for slander to say the least...

  • Comment number 89.

    Your a brave man Rob, this post is being reported as fanning the flames your DG has just tried to put out.

    I'd like to comment on all of the above, but I will concentrate on this breathtaking statement:

    "Errors of judgement are surely not a sacking offence?"

    errors in not following your employers code of conduct and editorial guidance, right at the time your competitors and your regulator has a microscope on your organisation - surely is a sackable offence.

    Also, I feel people are becoming fed up to the back teeth of people in public life bringing into disrepute the organisations they work for, and getting off scott free.

    We say to ourselves 'God, if I did that at work, there would be hell to pay' and so there should be.

    People need to take responsibility for their actions, this event was a serious error. I'll leave my closing statement to your boss, who puts it much better than I could, and than you did:

    'It is clear from the views expressed by the public that this broadcast has caused severe offence and I share that view...This gross lapse of taste by the performers and the production team'.

  • Comment number 90.

    "But how many heard the original transmission and how many are responding to the newspapers' quotes or others' arguments?"

    So what if we didn't hear it first time? So what if we only found out the FACTS of this matter elsewhere. The FACTS are not in dispute.

    1. Russell Brand had sex with Andrew Sachs' granddaughter.
    2. Rusell Brand and Jonathan Ross made four OBSCENE phonecalls to the 78 year old's answering machine.
    3. These phonecalls were recorded then broadcast.
    4. Both were paid license payers' money for doing this.

    Why would only those who happened to listen to the show be allowed to feel outrage?

    Anyway, what on Earth does the opinion of Radio 1 listeners have to do with the difference between right and wrong? Given that it was a Radio 2 broadcast, you might as well hold up the opinion of Belgians as the gold standard on the matter.

    I am not a retired major from the counties, I am a fan of edgy, potentially offensive humour (Bill Hicks, Frankie Boyle, etc.)

  • Comment number 91.

    Many young people will of course just find it humorous and think no more of it, but if actually asked whether they would you like one of their grandparents to experience this type of call about them, then their smile might start to falter.
    My complaint is about the production team who allowed this to be broadcast. This broadcast was wrong because it publically disregarded the feelings of another person. From a grandmother (47) who normally finds Russell and Jonathon quite amusing.

  • Comment number 92.

    The ironic thing about the radio show on Saturday was that at the start of the show Russell and Jonathan joked that the Mail on Sunday would be listening to them, waiting to find anything that they could in order to slate them.
    Frankly, it must be a slow news week if prank phone calls are one of the main headlines. Yes it maybe wasn't the most appropriate thing to say but that's their job, to push the boundaries to find humour, and, from listening to it, I found it really quite funny.

    The fact that it was prerecorded and that the producer had the option of whether or not to broadcast is should be where the main focus is, not on two presenters who are trying their best to get a laugh, they've done a similar thing on Dita VonTeese's answerphone and that didn't erupt into controversy, everyone needs to get a grip.

  • Comment number 93.

    It was a "wrong", not something that appears to be within the mental or moral compass of any of the BBC responses I have yet seen.
    You do not have to have witnessed a child's abuse to be aware that it is a "wrong".
    The responses along the lines of "Some of our listeners/viewers thought it was great!" will lead the way to a new series of "One man and his Dogging."

    The "Media" fall into the same trap as the chauffeur driven Judges, Islington and Hampstead "Chatterers" and many "Scene" homosexuals in believing that the mores and standards of their clique and its limited reactions with the "Majority" are the "Norm".

    They are not.

    The BBC's responses absolutely confirm that they are as an organisation exemplars of an ultra-guardianista societal sub-set that deliberately and patronisingly believes that its decadent and drug and trend affected views are not only correct but infinitely superior to the DESIRED standards of the vast bulk of society.

    The claims of mass support of the young for this pair are quite possibly true for a small percentage of youth as there have always been the smutty graffiti scrawlers but they are , never have been and never will be the majority of our young people. For every one supporter of this shallow but vile "entertainment" I will raise you a 100 Scouts, St Johns' or VSO young men and women who would rightly characterise this output as the "Wrong" that it was. To paraphrase your patois, " GET A REAL LIFE!"

    I Write as an ex militant tendency, former Spare Rib subscriber who has a violent temper, the ability to issue abuse of the foulest and most hurtful nature and a history of actions, thoughts and some deeds that to this day shame me.

    As a person with that nature I am all to aware of how easy it is to be vile, but have never lost my knowledge that such actions are "Wrong" and believe that society needs to restrain people such as myself and this pair from committing such acts.

    The Laisse-faire response of the BBC to this current but only latest dismantling of any sense of responsibility; personal or corporate within our society simply makes the Thatcher's claim that there is no such thing as society more of a prophecy than a statement.

    They (Ross and Bland) and the BBC have almost led me to dispair, if it were not for my sure and certain knowledge of the great,often unheard and unrecognised, goodness of most of our population I would have arrived at that pit.

    However; just as two bad famillies on one street in a council estate can ruin that street, and two such streets on that estate ruin the area, so can the actions of small unthinking, uncaring louts like Ross and Bland destroy or degrade a once great institution.

    For clarity;

    Sack them both without compensation.
    Sack for Gross misconduct all line management/editors who approved or were cognisent of the transmitted material.
    Require the immediate resignation of the Director General.
    Insist that BBC at whatever cost place Equal employment advertisements to its current monopolism of the Guardian in the D Telegraph and even the vile D Mail and that positions of people's editors be established within the BBC on a salaried basis appointed by independents to, horror of horrors CENSOR or reposition its output for it to more accurately represent that "Man on the clapham omnibus"

    Let common sense and humanity save us all.

  • Comment number 94.

    Yes, this incident is a catalyst for a much wider debate ie standards of decency in this country. Many young people, by no means all, have never been taught good manners by their parents. They swear, put feet up on seats, do not stand for elderly passengers and much much worse. As a teacher I constantly fought bad manners but the children look at you as if you are an alien. Of course, their parents exhibit the same behaviour so the children have no good role models.
    The furore which has broken out is a result of the silent majority finally speaking out and saying we have had enough and let's bring back some standards of common decency.
    I hope this is a lesson to all TV personalities not just comedians. We do not wish to hear your constant swearing etc. Some of the behaviour and language is truly juvenile and has no place on public broadcasting.

  • Comment number 95.

    I am fed up of being told what is acceptable and what is not.

    If you dont like Ross or Brand them ignore them and listen to something safe that you prefer. Just dont stop me from being able to listen to them on the Radio. We all have different tastes in comedy and music but why do the po faced Daily Mail brigade want to tell us what we should and should not be able to listen to. Live and let live !

  • Comment number 96.

    Here we go..another attempt by someone who is completely running off his own agenda in an attempt to defend the indefensible.

    I have an extremely broad, some may say filthy, sense of humour and yet I found nothing funny about this puerile couple's attempt to degrade a much respected actor.

    It was gutter filth of the worst kind and I'm surprised that there's anyone on the Beeb who has the brass neck to even try to defend this.

    And to anyone who tells me to get a life...I'd suggest that you take a long hard look at yourself and ask if your Grandparents would be pleased and overjoyed to receive this bile.

  • Comment number 97.

    We are already reaping the whirlwind for non regulation in the financial sector. I can think of no area in a civil society where the public in general is effected which should be unregulated. At the moment this is exactly how the BBC management would have it. Perhapse they deserve a good dose of Mrs Mary Whitehouse. The crass excuse of pushing comedie to the edge is unacceptable. The lack of response in general by BBC executives and McKensie's Blog in particular show the standards which are acceptable at the BBC, they are not the standards the majority of parents in the country hold. The BBC management are out of touch with the real world. This was not a "Prank", it was lewd and obscene behaviour by two juvenils indulging their sick minds.

  • Comment number 98.

    Rod, those vox pops are a biased spin exercise

    Clearly many old people will see the abuse given to Andrew Sachs as appalling

    But many young people do too.

    There are many young people who think its a laugh to bully their class mates, or to go happy slapping and videoing it on their mobiles...

    ...are you happy to crawl to this degenerate segment of society in order to try and plead a mandate for the appalling behaviour by Ross and Brand.

    If Andrew Sachs had committed suicide from the shame, as joked about by Ross and Brand, what would you be saying them?

    Their behaviour was indefensible

    Is it funny to joke about breaking into Andrew sachs house to torment him?

    Is that the example you want to set to young radio one listeners of what its OK to do for a giggle.

    You make me ashamed to be a Radio 1 listener

  • Comment number 99.

    Yeah I reckon the person up the bored got it right when they said
    'It's a sad commentary on the world we live in that so many of the Radio 1 audience apparently don't give a toss about other people's feelings and sensibilities.

    It was wrong and if the average Radio 1 listener doesn't understand that they need some education'

    Oh course this is the Don Jolly , Phone Jacker generation.....or TV programmes where someone jumps on a complete strangers back and rides them like in a Rodeo....etc etc

    I afraid people could explain and explain and still listeners of the piped pipers will not understand....or realise the wider picture....


  • Comment number 100.

    Although Andrew Sachs generously does not want to take the matter any further, he has said that he was not happy with the content of the phone messages and Georgina Baillie has said that he was “really upset”. The subsequent broadcast of the messages certainly defamed her.

    The messages left on the answerphone fit the following description on West Midlands Police web site: “Malicious calls may be made by a small group of people who think it is funny or smart to make such obscene calls, or by callers who intend to upset you for revenge, anger or humour.” As others have pointed out, making malicious phone calls is a criminal offence under Section 43 of the Telecommunications Act 1984 and Section 92 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.

    Do you accept, Rod, that there is a prima facie case that the BBC’s employees have committed a criminal offence? If you and your colleagues will not condemn the leaving of the messages, which aspect of this legislation would you similarly not support if someone made a series of obscene phone calls to your phone?

    A cynic might conclude that this blog entry is part of a conspiracy by the BBC’s management to divert attention from the criminal offence to matters of broadcasting taste.


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