Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand have rattled a few cages over a bawdy phone stunt involving Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs and his family.
The presenters left a series of messages on Sachs's answer phone claiming that Brand had had sex with his granddaughter, Georgina.
Sachs was left upset by the crude calls – which were also broadcast to about two million listeners to Brand's Radio 2 show.
Russell Brand said he slept with the granddaughter of Andrew Sachs during his Radio 2 show. Jonathan Ross, who was co hosting the show joined in the ribald comments.
Sachs's agent said his client had been terribly hurt by the comments and had made a formal complaint to the BBC.
The calls about his granddaughter were made during an episode of Brand's Saturday night Radio 2 programme, co-hosted by Ross to help publicise his new book. Shortly before they contacted Sachs for a pre-arranged telephone interview, Brand said: In a
minute we're going to be talking to Andrew Sachs, Manuel actor. The elephant in the room is, what Andrew doesn't know is, I've slept with his granddaughter.
The comedian then rang Sachs. When the veteran actor didn't answer his telephone, Brand left a message during which Ross shouted He fucked your granddaughter!, generating raucous laughter from the studio.
Ross subsequently speculated that Brand had enjoyed Georgina on a swing. The pair then decided to ring Mr Sachs again to apologise. When he repeatedly failed to answer, Ross and Brand left three further messages, making the situation worse.
During one message, Brand said: I wore a condom. In another, which took the form of an impromptu song, Brand sang: I'd like to apologise for the terrible attacks, Andrew Sachs . . . I said some things I didn't of oughta, like I had sex with
your granddaughter, though it was consensual . . . it was consensual lovely sex. It was full of respect, I sent her a text, I've asked her to marry me, Andrew Sachs.
Ross could be heard singing quietly to himself: Your granddaughter ...she was bent over the couch...
Brand's show sometimes goes out live, but the offending episode was pre-recorded to fit around Brand and Ross's other commitments. According to the BBC, a senior editorial figure signed off the programme, including its strong language, before it was
Tory MP Philip Davies said: I know Jonathan Ross has been handsomely rewarded by the BBC for being rude, inappropriate and as vile as possible, but I would hope that even the BBC would accept he's overstepped the mark this time. In any other walk of
life, anyone who did this type of thing would face serious disciplinary proceedings. I hope the BBC will consider what consequences there may be if they don't take him to task for this.
Just going to see Mr Brand dear...
He's been picking on Manuel
The BBC said today it had received 1,587 complaints by 5.30pm about the crude messages left on actor Andrew Sachs' answer phone These were recorded by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross on Brand's Radio 2 programme.
The messages included Ross saying that Brand had "fucked" Sachs' granddaughter and the pair joking that that the former Fawlty Towers actor might kill himself as a result.
Today the BBC apologised to Sachs, who played Manuel in Fawlty Towers , describing the broadcast as unacceptable and offensive.
The BBC also said it would review how this came about, after the pre-recorded segment of Brand's show was cleared for broadcast by a senior editorial figure from within the corporation.
Fury after obscene call to TV Manuel, the Sun spluttered today as it reported Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross's calls to Andrew Sachs, in which the pair joked about Brand sleeping with the Fawlty Towers star's
granddaughter Georgina Baillie.
So enraged, in fact, that it dug out a topless picture from 2005 of Georgina auditioning for Page 3.
The 23-year-old granddaughter of Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs has been revealed as a member of a raunchy burlesque dance group.
Aspiring actress Georgina Baillie, who goes by the stage-name Voluptua was on a European tour with the burlesque dance group - the Satanic Sluts - but cut short the trip following the fracas.
Satanic Sluts is made up of four female goths. They have performed at Glastonbury in the past with routines that boast a theatrical cheerleader massacre, voodoo sacrifice, vampire brutality and much much more.
Gordon Brown and David Cameron weighed in to the row over a series of offensive telephone calls made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to the veteran actor Andrew Sachs on their Radio 2 show as the media regulator Ofcom launched a major investigation
into the incident.
As the number of complaints about the incident topped 10,000, Ofcom announced its inquiry and Cameron andBrown joined other MPs in condemning the broadcaster's actions.
Brown described the prank calls as inappropriate and unacceptable , while Cameron called on the BBC to be transparent about how the programme came to be broadcast, given that it was pre-recorded.
After receiving a rash of complaints about their comments, Ofcom took the decision to launch an inquiry. In a statement, it said: All UK broadcasters must adhere to Ofcom's Broadcasting Code which sets standards for the content of television and radio
broadcasting. It also deals with issues such as fairness and privacy.
Ross and Brand have since issued personal apologies to Sachs, with Ross delivering flowers and a letter to the actor's door. The BBC has also apologised over the matter, and is launching an internal inquiry. Tim Davie, director of audio and music at the
BBC, said: We're going to have a full investigation, look at the facts and take the appropriate action. In an interview with the BBC, he admitted the programme was unacceptable and said clear editorial guidelines needed to be followed, but
added that apportioning blame prematurely would be the wrong thing to do. Asked if anyone would take the rap, Davie said the most important thing was to conduct a fair, balanced report and then take action.
Cameron said the BBC had some very straightforward questions to answer. The main question is why did they allow this programme to be broadcast, given that it was pre-recorded? he said.
The subject of the prank calls had arisen earlier yesterday during a debate in the House of Commons, in which the Justice minister David Hanson told MPs that the broadcast was not appropriate . Later, the Tory MP Nadine Dorries called on the BBC
to sack both broadcasters.
It was also claimed that should Sachs wish to take the matter further, Brand and Ross could possibly be prosecuted on the grounds of harassment.
The Metropolitan Police said it had received complaints about the comments, but would not confirm how many had been made. This will be looked at and a decision taken, but there is no police investigation at this time, a police spokesman said.
Sachs last night appeared to play down the saga. Jonathan Ross has personally delivered a letter of apology and some flowers. He made no excuses and was very frank and open. He's in a lot of trouble and I don't want to pile any more on him. My
granddaughter hasn't heard from either Ross or Brand and I do think they owe her an apology.
The BBC's director general is to meet the corporation's governing body to discuss lewd phone calls made on comic Russell Brand's Radio 2 show.
Mark Thompson will brief the BBC Trust on a preliminary inquiry into how the calls to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs came to be broadcast.
Brand has now resigned from Radio 2 and Jonathan Ross has been suspended.
More than 27,000 people have now complained to the BBC about the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand phone prank.
MediaGuardian.co.uk understands that on the day the Brand and Ross's calls to Sachs' answerphone were recorded, a producer from the BBC rang the former Fawlty Towers actor to ask if he would mind them being used. It is claimed that Sachs said they could
be, as long as they were toned down a bit.
The pre-recorded show was then run by a BBC executive, who approved its transmission on Saturday October 18.
Sachs today said he was not surprised Ross and Brand had been suspended by the BBC over their prank calls to him. He also confirmed he was not planning to take the matter up with the police: I'm not going to take it anywhere, I'm not out for
The BBC has ordered a fundamental review of taste and decency standards across the network in an attempt to end the row about the prank phone calls that has engulfed the corporation.
The controller of Radio 2, Lesley Douglas, one of the most influential figures in the radio and music industries, was forced to resign, while Jonathan Ross, the highest-paid man in British broadcasting, has been suspended for 12 weeks without pay. His
Radio 2 presenting colleague Russell Brand resigned on Wednesday.
The BBC Trust ordered an on-air apology to licence fee-payers for serious and deliberate breaches of editorial guidelines, and asked the director general, Mark Thompson, to write a personal apology for the scandal. He declined to comment on the
future of more junior staff involved but promised to conduct a review of broadcasting guidelines.
Last night's edition of Never Mind the Buzzcocks was also cancelled as it featured Brand – a subsequent version of the show was broadcast in its place. The BBC said it had no plans to show the program at a later date.
The BBC announced a raft of measures it was taking to prevent something similar happening again, including a review of compliance procedures across radio output, and a study into where the appropriate boundaries of taste and standards should lie
across all BBC output. Sessions will be held with senior staff on the lessons to be learnt. The director of BBC audio and music will also ensure that all programmes are re-assessed for editorial risk and those with high risk will have
More than 15,000 people have signed up to a Facebook group supporting Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, which has a protest planned for tomorrow outside the Daily Mail's London offices.
Fans of the pair are planning a demonstrate outside the Mail's Derry Street HQ in Kensington at noon, followed by one outside BBC offices in the capital.
Called Support Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, Facebook group has swollen its membership in recent days as Brand resigned from his Radio 2 show and Ross was suspended without pay from all BBC TV and radio services for three months.
The 15,609 supporters who have joined the Facebook group compares with the 34,690 who complained to the BBC about the show following the Mail on Sunday's story on October 26.
Only two people complained after the show was broadcast on October 18.
The Support Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross group is also presenting a petition signed by almost 4,000 people: We, the undersigned call on the BBC to turn blame on the Andrew Sachs incident away from Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross as it was only
intended as a joke, the petition states: We also wish that Jonathan Ross's and Russell Brand's careers will continue just as before this started.
TV censor Ofcom warned BBC bosses about lax editorial procedures on Russell Brand's BBC 6 Music show over a year ago, it emerged last night. In a ruling published 15 months ago, it criticised the corporation for failing to follow its own editorial
procedures and allowing Brand to broadcast a quiz won by a member of his production team posing as a listener to the digital radio station.
As director-general Mark Thompson today says that the corporation will not overreact to the events of the past week, the revelation that Ofcom highlighted the failure of the BBC's programming rules in July last year will be seized on by critics as
evidence that Brand's latest gaffe should have been avoided.
The repeat offence could mean that the BBC will be fined the maximum for its latest misdemeanour.
A second BBC Radio 2 executive has resigned over the Sachsgate affair as the corporation prepares to broadcast two apologies.
The resignation of Dave Barber, the station's head of specialist music and compliance, has been confirmed in an internal email from the channel's acting controller Lewis Carnie.
The apologies will be directed to Andrews Sachs along with his granddaughter and the licence fee-payers
The first apology will air just after 10am tomorrow when Jonathan Ross, currently suspended without pay, would normally be broadcasting his radio show on BBC Radio 2.
This will be repeated just after 9pm, when Russell Brand used to be on air with his Saturday night show on the same station.
The BBC will say that the phone call to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs's answering machine should never have been recorded or broadcast. It will apologise unreservedly to Mr Sachs, Miss Baillie and to our audiences as licence fee payers in the broadcasts.
BBC bosses have been questioned by MPs over the crude phone calls made by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross to actor Andrew Sachs.
BBC Trust chairman Sir Michael Lyons denied the corporation had been slow in its response to the incident, but admitted lessons could be learned.
The BBC's director general, Mark Thompson, admitted a very serious editorial lapse had occurred.
The pair were speaking at a Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing.
Conservative MP Nigel Evans criticised the BBC's lamentable slowness in handling the crisis, but Sir Michael replied: There was no lack of speed. I don't think we could've got an apology out any earlier . He added there was a case
that the BBC's head of audio, Tim Davie, should have been on the airwaves to make a public statement a little earlier.
MPs also criticised Lyons and Thompson for failing to fire Ross and Brand for gross misconduct.
The primary failing is not the antics of performers, it's the fact it was allowed to go out, Lyons replied: Until we have finished our investigations, I would be careful about terms like gross misconduct which have contractual implication .
He added one of the things the trust was exploring was whether it is right to leave a young producer implanted in a company that is owned by one of the performers, a reference to the BBC producer who was drafted in to work for Brand's production
company while the star's regular producer was away.
Thompson added that the corporation would be looking at whether additional safeguards were needed to ensure compliance procedures were being fulfilled in programmes made by independent production companies where the artist has an economic involvement.
Lyons told MPs the trust had not finished its inquiry and that all decisions would follow from that, with nothing being ruled in or out.
Thompson is due to report back to the trust later this week on BBC management's findings over the furore. The trust will announce the results of their investigation on Friday, 21 November.
Jonathan Ross is expected to escape further sanction over the obscene calls scandal.
The BBC is thought to have concluded his three-month suspension was sufficient punishment for a broadcast that sparked 42,000 complaints.
It means that in January Ross will be able to return to fronting all his shows for the corporation.
David Davies, Tory MP for Monmouthshire, said: The BBC is pathetic for not sacking Jonathan Ross. It is a slap in the face to the licence payers to let him stay on.
John Beyer, of the pressure group Mediawatch UK, said: It is difficult to see how this decision can be justified when there seems to be so much public disquiet about employing him at all. He has already had one chance too many. If this is the case
they [the BBC] will end up looking like they have not been tough enough.
It is expected that the BBC Trust and managers will issue a rebuke to Ross and Brand today while ruling out further punishment.
A senior BBC source said yesterday: It would be a huge surprise if there was any further sanctions for Jonathan Ross. Much of the drama has already been played out, he is suspended, two senior figures in BBC radio have resigned and acknowledgements
have been made about tightening up compliance procedure.
It is believed that an internal inquiry will condemn poor editorial practices on BBC music radio stations. Insiders say the report will claim some controllers have been too weak in policing presenters. Sources are suggesting that the new rules will mean
every radio programme, even concerts, will have to be vetted by a senior executive.
Calls made by the BBC presenters Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to the actor Andrew Sachs were a deplorable intrusion with no editorial justification , the BBC Trust ruled yesterday.
Ross will keep his job and escape further punishment over the affair after the trust chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, said he supported the presenter's 12-week suspension. Ross will therefore return to the BBC in January, when his suspension is complete.
Details also emerged yesterday of the approval granted to the contentious recording by the Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas, who resigned from her £280,000 position over the affair.
Ms Douglas who sent a one-word email from her BlackBerry, Yes, in answer to a question about whether the show should be broadcast, did so despite not having heard it. She did so on the recommendation by email of Dave Barber, Radio 2's head of
compliance, who described it as very funny.
In its report, the trust criticised a further incident, when Ross, on his Friday night BBC1 show, told the actress Gwyneth Paltrow he would fuck her. The trust called the remark gratuitous and unnecessarily offensive .
Radio 2 broadcast an apology for the 18 October broadcast on 9 November. But a previous apology on Radio 2 by Brand, on 25 October, was condemned by the BBC trustee Richard Tait as unacceptable and exacerbated the intrusion into privacy and the
offence . Tait noted three failures – failure to exercise editorial control, to follow established compliance systems, and failure of judgement in editorial decisions. He added that the trust was nevertheless satisfied with the BBC's response to the
This is the transcript of the pivotal email exchange between Dave Barber, the head of compliance at Radio 2, and Lesley Douglas, the Radio 2 controller, about Brand's programme on 18 October.
On 16 October, Barber wrote to Douglas:
Russell is pre-recorded this week with Jonathan Ross as his co-host. Jonathan uses the F-word 52mins into the first hour in a sequence about Russell 'fucking' Andrew Sachs's granddaughter. They are speaking into Andrew Sachs's
answer machine at the time, and it's very funny – there then follow more calls to the answer phone in the second hour, again v funny. Having discussed it with the producer and listened to the sequence, I think we should keep in and put a 'strong
language' warning at the top of the hour. I think it is editorially justified in this context and certainly within audience expectations for Russell's show and the slot. Certainly preferable to bleeping, which would make it obvious anyway (and we don't
bleep now for this reason). Jonathan also apologises and Russell's shocked reaction is hilarious. Andrew Sachs is aware and is happy with the results, which were recorded his end for him to hear. Are you happy with this as a plan of action?
John Beyer, director of mediawatch-uk, said Jonathan Ross should do the honourable thing and resign over the Andrew Sachs affair. He said it would save the BBC any more embarrassment and sends a signal that standards at the corporation would be
Beyer also called on broadcasting regulator Ofcom to fast-track its own investigation into the infamous incident on Russell Brand's Radio 2 programme to ensure it was concluded before Ross's scheduled comeback in late January.
The Sunday Express understands that Ofcom has assigned fewer than 10 officials to its inquiry and such a small team is unlikely to file its report for several weeks, particularly with the Christmas and New Year break. With three months not an unusual
duration for Ofcom probes, it is quite likely that Ofcom could go public, with a possible maximum £250,000 fine, at the same time as Ross's return to TV screens on January 24.
Beyer said that would be an embarrassment for the BBC and that Ofcom should consider allocating more resources. He said: Given the circumstances, they should look at fast-tracking their investigation so that this gets done sooner rather than later.
That would be very helpful for all concerned.
Beyer also said that Ross, whose lewd calls with Brand to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs sparked national outrage, was continuing to drag down the BBC. He said he was satisfied with the thoroughness of Friday's report from the BBC Trust but said Ross
was blocking further progress: I think his position is untenable. Senior managers at the BBC have gone, even Russell Brand has resigned so clearly there is a question about Jonathan Ross. He should carefully consider his position. It would be the
honourable thing to do. What the BBC needs to do more than anything now is to show it has learned from all of this. There must be a review of standards of taste and decency and it has to be up to senior managers and presenters to adhere to them with
sanctions in place for breaches.
Church leaders have criticised the BBC for paying millions on Jonathan Ross while failing to invest in the 'equally popular'
Songs of Praise .
In a joint submission to Ofcom, the broadcasting watchdog, bishops from the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church call the corporation inconsistent for spending far more on the controversial chatshow host than the religious programme,
even though they have similar viewing figures.
The Rt Rev Nick Baines, the Bishop of Croydon, and the Rt Rev John Arnold, the Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, made their comments to Ofcom as part of its review of public service broadcasting.
The bishops say: This is not an obscure or technical issue, but one which affects us all. The survival and flourishing of public service content is not just an economic or political question; it has implications for the kind of society we want to be.
They say that although broadcasters claim public service programmes are unprofitable, the BBC spends far less on programmes dealing with religious and ethical issues than on entertainment shows that attract the same size of audience.
The bishops say: There still remains both confusion and inconsistency about how religious output is viewed and its value to audiences, mostly around the definition of religion on TV.
It is clear that one programme gaining an audience of around four million weekly is regarded as a wild success meriting an £18 million star (Friday Night with Jonathan Ross) while another with a similar audience is regarded as part of an
unprofitable genre ( Songs of Praise ). This seems to be a striking lack of consistency.
Forgive them their trespasses...
Unless they trespass against YOU
Jonathan Ross will return to BBC work as the Baftas host after the end of his suspension.
And in a cheeky move that nutters say shows a total lack of humility, Ross has asked for fans to email him 'improbable words' he can slip into his speech.
He wrote on his blog: Here is a game you'll like. Suggest an improbable word that I have to slip into the Baftas when I host them in February. Ready, set, go.
The prestigious role, and Ross's comments on his blog, attracted predictable nutter 'outrage'.
Conservative MP Philip Davies said: The BBC should have fired him. Ross clearly does not realise how angry people were - and still are. He should come back and show that he has taken that - and his suspension - on board, but the evidence from
his blog is that he hasn't learnt anything.
John Beyer of Mediawatch UK, said the BBC should be more circumspect. He added: BBC1 controller Jay Hunt has said that Ross needs to regain viewers' trust. He needs to prove himself and I don't think being handed this highprofile, prestigious
role just two weeks after the end of the suspension is the right decision.
Ross's Friday night chat show will return on January 23. The Bafta ceremony at the Royal Opera House in London will be broadcast on February 8 on BBC1, BBC2 and BBC3.
Jonathan Ross was heavily censored when his chat show was aired on Friday night.
Despite swearing several times and making a series of crude remarks during the pre-recording of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on Thursday morning, Friday's broadcast of his chat show was radically toned down, with all of Ross's bad language and
sexually suggestive remarks cut from the final version of the programme.
Ross twice directed 'fuck' at Tom Cruise, one of the guests on the show, during the pre-record.
He also swore at the comedian Lee Evans, another guest of the show, who used the word 'shit' shortly after he came on. In response, Ross said: Don't come on here with your 'fucking' foul mouth. This is a brave new world.
All of Ross's swear words were cut from the programme when it was aired on Friday night.
During the pre-record, Ross also asked Cruise to feel his right biceps, before claiming that his right bicep is better toned thanks to what he does with that hand. This was also cut from the final version of the show.
Ross also made several joking references to Russell Brand, all of which were cut from Friday's broadcast.
John Beyer, the director of the pressure group Media-Watch UK, said: The BBC would have been very foolish to continue giving a completely free rein to Jonathan Ross. Let's hope this brings a more sensible approach to this sort of programme and that
viewers' trust in broadcasting is restored.
The family of an 86-year-old Alzheimer's sufferer condemned Jonathan Ross after he cracked a joke about
having sex with her.
The broadcaster marked his return to his BBC Radio 2 show with the gag which was immediately pounced on by those gunning for him to be sacked.
Elderly Francisca Guzman's son expressed deep hurt that his frail mother, who has had dementia for three years, was the butt of Ross's joke.
Jose Maria Moreno said: It is offensive. My mother's mental health should not be a subject for comedy and Ross should be sacked. What he said is unforgivable and offensive. I don't understand how he can continue working for an organisation like the
Ross and his producer Andy Davies were discussing how they had spent their time during the suspension. Davies said he had done some bricklaying in the garden of his villa in Spain but kept getting grabbed by a frisky 80-year-old woman.
Ross declared: Eighty, oh God! I think you should, just for charity. Give her one last night, will you? One last night before the grave. Would it kill you?
Although Mrs Guzman was not named, she is well known in the Andalusian village of Conchar, near Granada, where Davies has his villa.
Last night there were new calls for Ross to be sacked. Tory MP David Davies said: There is a place for humour but it has to be appropriate to the time of the day. And that clearly wasn't.
Mediawatch director John Beyer said: Jokes like this are not on. He should have gone months ago.
Ross told the News of the World yesterday: Absolutely no offence to any individual was intended. It was a spontaneous, light-hearted remark made in response to an anecdote set in Spain, where no one was named or ever likely to hear the broadcast. As
far as I was concerned, the story may even have been apocryphal or exaggerated for comedic purposes.
Free speech controversies involving Prince Harry, Carol Thatcher and Jeremy Clarkson show the new thought police are in danger
of running riot.
Ever since ‘Sachsgate' – the BBC controversy involving Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand – it has been a constant story of another day, another ‘scandal' about some celebrity or other being banned, investigated, suspended or censured for saying something
offensive or outrageous. It is not only the frequency of these media controversies that stands out lately. Something new is happening in the free speech wars. It has become a war on words.
BBC bans stars from editorial control of their own programmes
Thanks to Nick
From the BBC
The BBC has announced new policy guidelines to make it clearer who is responsible for editorial compliance when the on-screen/on-air
talent owns the company making the programme or has a senior role in the production team.
Applying immediately to all BBC commissions in television and radio, the new guidelines state that for in-house and independent programmes, on-screen/on-air talent or their agents must not be responsible for editorial standards or compliance procedures
for the programme in which they appear, and therefore should not be credited as the Executive Producer.
In exceptional circumstances, an additional Executive Producer must be appointed to take responsibility for editorial controls and compliance procedures.
The BBC Trust's Editorial Standards Committee recently asked the BBC Executive to assess the editorial controls and compliance procedures in place for all programmes where the production company is owned and/ or managed by the featured performer.
George Entwistle, Controller of Editorial Standards, BBC Vision, said of the changes: On-screen and on-air talent plays a vital role in BBC productions, both independent and in-house, and their creative input is very highly valued. But creative input
must not be confused with responsibility for editorial standards and compliance.
Artists and their agents need to be free to focus on the creative process while another senior member of the team takes responsibility for ensuring that compliance procedures are followed and editorial standards are met.
It doesn't seem fair that the tax payer
should pay for your husband's porn.
Better if Jonathan Ross pays.
Senior government expense account holders have backed demands for Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to pay the £150,000 fine imposed on the BBC for their antics.
Justice Secretary Jack Straw, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell all added their voices to the outcry.
There is outrage that the licence-fee payer will have to meet the fine imposed on Friday by the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.
There are also calls for Brand's production company Vanity Projects, which produced the broadcast, to pay at least some of the money.
Straw, the most senior expense account holder to have spoken out about the fine, said the performers should pay out of their own pockets. It is wrong that licence-fee payers will have to pick up the bill for this. It is ridiculous that the penalty
will be paid by the public.
Jowell, the former Culture Secretary, added: I think it would be honourable for Jonathan Ross to offer to pay it himself.
Miss Blears told the BBC's Any Questions: The BBC is funded by all of us as licence-payers, so are we having to pay the fine? Maybe Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand should pay it … that might be quite a good idea.
The BBC has said the money for the fine will come out of its general budget.
An Ofcom spokesman said: Parliament decided for very serious breaches of our broadcasting rules the BBC would be subject to a maximum fine of £250,000. These powers only allow for fines to be levied against the BBC and not individuals. 'To do so
would require a change in the law.
What’s the point of
having a media watchdog,
if the people who fall foul of it
just make fun of it?
The Daily Mail have had a bit of fun in a rant about Jonathan Ross being a little flippant over a statement about the Ofcom fine:
Jonathan Ross remained unrepentant over the Andrew Sachs scandal and made a string of sarcastic remarks and jokes on his Radio 2 show after a damning watchdog ruling into his conduct was read out.
Instead of taking the opportunity to apologise after the Ofcom ruling was detailed before his Saturday morning slot, he made a series of gags and the played Fun Boy Three’s The Lunatics Have Taken over the Asylum.
The ruling was over obscene messages that Ross and Russell Brand left on the 78 year-old actor’s answermachine about his granddaughter Georgina Baillie.
It described the messages as offensive, humiliating and demeaning. The statement continued: The material that was broadcast was exceptionally offensive, humiliating and demeaning.
After the announcement had finished, Ross said: You can never find a pen when you need one, can you? You didn’t get that email address down, did you? I want to get the full thing sent over because I can’t read enough about it.
He then played The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum and made loaded comments with sidekick Andy Davies that suggested the lyrics were a fitting response.
After the song ended, Ross commented: You know, I’ve never really listened to the lyrics of that before. Davies laughed in the background and added: That was a lucky accident.
Conservative MP, Philip Davies, who sits on the media select committee, said: These comments show Jonathan Ross still does not think he has done anything wrong. He just didn’t seem to understand how angry the general public are about what he did.
A senior BBC insider told the Daily Mail: There are plenty of people at the BBC that would just like to see him go when his contract runs out. Ross just behaves like he has no respect for the people that have put their neck on the line, or lost their
jobs, so he can keep his.
Mediawatch director John Beyer said: The BBC should be reviewing his contract. What’s the point of having an official regulator, if the people who fall foul of it just make fun of it?
Once again the corporation opted to defend his behaviour.
A BBC spokeswoman said: We are satisfied Jonathan’s light-hearted comments did not detract from the seriousness of the statement.
A number of listeners complained to Ofcom about the Jonathan Ross show on Radio 2, claiming the comments on his programme on Saturday were homophobic.
Ross was involved in a light-hearted discussion about prizes in a competition themed around the fictional teen pop star when he joked: If your son asks for a Hannah Montana MP3 player, you might want to already think about putting him down for
adoption before he brings his...erm...partner home.
A spokeswoman for Ofcom was unable to say how many people had complained but said: We have had complaints. We are assessing those complaints against the broadcasting code.
A BBC spokeswoman said: The BBC has received four complaints about Jonathan’s comments on Saturday’s show. However, these off-the-cuff remarks were made purely in jest and were not intended to be offensive. Jonathan is not homophobic in any sense and
never meant for his comments to be taken seriously.’
The BBC Trust ordered a review of acceptable standards following the row over obscene phone messages left for the actor Andrew Sachs by
Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.
The report - written by BBC creative director Alan Yentob and director of archive content Roly Keating - calls for clear guidelines on intrusion, intimidation and humiliation to to ensure that everyone involved in programme making understands
that such behaviours are unacceptable.
Of 2,206 adults aged over 16 were questioned for an Ipsos Mori survey.
The main findings were:
Where audiences are concerned about the area of taste and morality on television as a whole, this is often connected with broader concerns about falling standards in terms of quality and the over-reliance on reality formats.
Standards of morality, values and behaviour in the media in particular are not a top-of-mind issue for the majority of the public.
The BBC overall performs well in the audience's perceptions of standards of morality, values and behaviour, compared to other channels and broadcasters. The audience also has higher expectations of the BBC.
In general terms, the public do not want increased censorship or regulation. The majority value the creativity of the BBC and accept that it may sometimes lead to offending some people.
When prompted, a significant proportion of the audience have various concerns about standards of morality, values and behaviour in the media as a whole, including newspapers, magazines, broadcasting and online content.
Strong language is an area of concern for some audiences; they recognise when language is used for clear purpose or effect within a programme - including comedy and entertainment - but dislike 'unnecessary' or excessive use.
In certain genres, the offensive potential of strong language can be compounded when it is combined with apparently aggressive or bullying behaviour. This reflects broader public concerns about aggression and bullying within society as a whole.
There is little public consensus or agreement about what constitutes offence: it means very different things to different sections of the audience.
The context in which potentially offensive content is placed is of paramount importance to audiences, as are judgements of quality. Both can make the difference between whether something is acceptable to audiences or not.
Tone and intent can also make strong material acceptable: the 'twinkle in the eye' of a performer and their skill in delivery can make the decisive difference, even with potentially offensive material.
Age and socio-economic group go some way to describing who in the audience is more likely to have concerns, but they do not tell the full story.
Younger audiences (11-15 year-olds) are uniquely self-selecting in their choice of media content, through the web and magazines as well as broadcast material. Though strongly drawn to more sexual content, some express unease about the sexualised
nature of the media world in which they live and the pressure to 'grow up fast.'
Sexual content on television and radio was a matter of relatively low concern for audiences. There was an expectation that the television watershed should be respected, and content on radio appropriately scheduled. There is no appetite for a
watershed in radio.
Some respondents commented that the transfer of some successful series from BBC Two may bring a somewhat ‘edgier' tone to BBC One.
Respondents expressed few concerns about standards on BBC Radio. However, of all the BBC's services, Radio 1 has the most divided response in terms of morality, values and behaviour.
Audiences are conscious of the challenges presented by the growth of online and on-demand content, but there is little awareness of the BBC's 'G for Guidance' systems, or understanding that iPlayer has a parent password protection scheme which
prevents children accessing adult content.
Audiences accept potentially offensive content but believe it should be there for a purpose. They have a sophisticated sense of different programme genres, from serious documentary to reality and entertainment. Producers should ensure that any
potentially offensive material has a clear editorial purpose and ask themselves is it necessary? Does it enhance the quality of the experience for audiences?
Viewers understand and value the television watershed. The BBC must respect and maintain its significance as a crucial contribution to audience confidence in television standards. There is no audience demand for a radio watershed.
Of all BBC services, BBC One is the most sensitive, because of its ability to unite generations and families in shared viewing. The bar for the strongest language between 9pm and 10pm must therefore remain significantly higher than on other BBC
On all channels, producers, presenters, commissioners and controllers have a shared responsibility to ensure that the force and value of the strongest words is not weakened by over-use. The mandatory referral of the most offensive language to
Channel Controllers reflects this and must be maintained.
Mischievous banter, practical jokes and formats, which include elements of confrontation and criticism, can all be legitimate, indeed the public tell us that they can add greatly to their enjoyment; but programme makers, on-air artists and
presenters must ensure that they never tip over into malice, humiliation or harm.
Audiences admire performers who take risks but have the expertise to know when to draw a line. To support such talent, producers and controllers must always be candid and open with them about judgements of tone and content, and be prepared where
appropriate to take and enforce tough decisions.
Risk-taking is as vital a part of the BBC's mission in comedy, drama and entertainment as it is in other genres. As with all programme making, the greater the risk, the greater the thought, care and pre-planning needed to bring something
groundbreaking to air.
New series on television and radio For new series where questions of taste and standards are likely to arise, there must be a discussion with the commissioning executive early in the production cycle to agree appropriate parameters of tone and
content, to ensure that all involved, including presenters and performers, have given thought to questions of channel, context and slot. Even when a returning series has established expectations of strong language and content, there should be a
similar discussion before the start of each run.
Greater care over cross-channel transfers When a TV series moves to a more mainstream channel - especially to BBC One - producers and controllers should be sensitive to its new context, and give careful consideration to adaptations of tone or
format if necessary.
Clearer policy on bleeping of strong language A clearer policy should be set for the use of bleeping in TV and radio programmes. In general, where strong language is integral to the meaning or content of a programme, and other questions of slot,
context channel etc have been resolved, it should not be disguised. But when in other circumstances a sequence that is editorially necessary happens to contain the strongest language, it may be right to bleep or disguise the words, even after
New guidance on malicious intrusion, intimidation and humiliation BBC programmes must never condone malicious intrusion, intimidation and humiliation. While they are all aspects of human behaviour which may need to be depicted, described or
discussed across the BBC's factual and non-factual output, they must never be celebrated for the purposes of entertainment. New guidance is needed to ensure that everyone involved in programme making for the BBC understands that malicious
intrusion, intimidation and humiliation are unacceptable.
Clearer audience information and warnings The BBC should always recognise that some sections of its audiences are more readily offended than others. We owe the public the information they need to make informed choices about viewing and listening
and to avoid material they may regard as unsuitable for themselves or their families. Each channel must make even greater efforts to ensure that appropriate content information (eg. billings and presentation announcements) is provided which
enables informed judgements to be made by all audiences, both pre- and post-watershed, about programme content.
Music radio Music radio thrives on strong personalities, and young audiences value BBC Radio 1 highly; but editorial teams must be reminded that particular care needs to be taken at times of day, such as school runs, when different generations
may be listening together.
Major awareness campaign about online guidance The BBC has pioneered content guidance and child protection mechanisms provided by the iPlayer. Audiences are concerned about the internet as a space of unregulated content and are insufficiently
aware of the protection available for BBC content. A major campaign of public information is needed as soon as possible to raise awareness of the content guidance and offer reassurance to audiences. The BBC should also work to ensure that the
next generation of Freeview and FreeSat PVRs have PIN protection functionality.
More regular audience research In-depth audience research, along the lines of the findings in this paper, should be conducted more often to ensure that the BBC maintains a full and detailed understanding of audience attitudes to taste and
standards. To keep up with changes in audience taste, research should be commissioned every two to three years. Careful attention should be given to key tracking questions that will enable the BBC to identify changes in audience and societal
Revision of Editorial Guidelines and Guidance The BBC's Editorial Policy department should use the research, general principles and recommendations in this report to inform the current general revision of the BBC's Editorial Guidelines and, in
particular, to clarify audience expectations of tone and context. In addition, new Guidance will be required to keep programme and content makers up-todate with audience expectations of BBC content.
Increased commitment to training The research findings offer new opportunities to illuminate the understanding of taste and standards for programme makers across the BBC. The findings should be briefed to leadership groups in all content
divisions by the Director and Chief Adviser, Editorial Policy. The Colleges of Production and Journalism should develop new training material that explores audience attitudes specific to each of the key genres, which will be rolled out to
programme makers both in-house and independent. The audience research and the conclusions of this report should also be made available through normal Editorial Policy channels to all programme makers. The findings of this study and the materials
used in it should inform online courses, which will be used to maintain editorial policy standards.
During a live and unscripted part of his Saturday morning radio show, Jonathan Ross discussed the prizes for the week's competition with his producer, Andy Davies. The prizes were primarily made up of Hannah Montana merchandise, which included a Hannah
Montana MP3 player. As part of this discussion, Jonathan Ross said:
If your son asks for a Hannah Montana MP3 player, then you might want to already think about putting him down for adoption in later life, when they settle down with their partner.
Ofcom received 61 complaints from listeners who were concerned that Jonathan Ross' comments were offensive and derogatory towards the gay community.
Ofcom considered these complaints under Rule 2.3 (material that may cause offence must be justified by the context).
Ofcom Decision: Not in Breach
Jonathan Ross' BBC Radio 2 show has been broadcast since 1999. It has an established format that is largely made up of quirky, humorous stories and on-air chat with the show's producer, Andy Davies.
The comment complained of was made during a live and unscripted element of the programme as part of a light-hearted discussion between Jonathan Ross and Andy Davies. In Ofcom's opinion, the comment was clearly presented as a joke intended to make light
of the reactions that some parents may have if their child chooses a toy that is very widely recognised to be designed and marketed for the opposite sex. The humour was therefore based on the absurdity of the scenario and was not intended to cause
offence. The fact that this comment was intended to be a joke was illustrated further by the reaction from Andy Davies, who was heard laughing. Ofcom therefore considered that the nature of the joke and the tone and manner in which it was presented made
clear that it was not intended to be hostile or pejorative towards the gay community in general.
Ofcom took into account that Jonathan Ross is a well known personality, who has an irreverent, challenging and at times risqué humour that is familiar to audiences. Ofcom also recognised that the comment was clearly aimed at an adult audience.
Importantly, if children did hear this comment it was unlikely that they would have understood it or its implications. In light of this, Ofcom considered that there was little potential for the comment to be imitated by children, for example in the
Ofcom considered that the comment was in keeping with the usual light-hearted and humorous style and format of the programme. The nature of the joke would have been well understood by the vast majority of listeners and would not have exceeded their
normal expectations for the programme.
Taking all these factors into account, Ofcom considered that on balance the material was justified by the context and met generally accepted standards. The programme was therefore not in breach of Rule 2.3 of the Code.
Fear of causing offence has left TV in danger of becoming too bland, Channel 4's programme chief has said.
Julian Bellamy told the Royal Television Society that recent scandals were preventing broadcasters from taking creative risks.
He said the BBC appeared to avoid controversial ideas like the plague in the wake of last year's Radio 2 prank calls row: After a string of scandals about taste and decency, it seems to avoid disruptive, potentially controversial ideas like the
plague. Time and again, producers tell me this and I believe it.
Bellamy said the industry's compliance spiral threatened to bland out the medium to no-one's benefit . But he said Channel 4 would continue to take creative risks even when public sentiment risks being offended . He described it as
the sole guardian of nonconformism and provocation on Britain's most powerful cultural medium . I genuinely believe if Channel 4 retreats into conservatism we will cease to be a meaningful cultural force .
Richard Herring has complained about the increasing regulations on radio shows since Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand's controversial phonecall to Andrew Sachs.
The comedian told Metro that greater censorship was the reason for his new series of online gigs, which are written on Sunday, performed on Monday and released as a podcast on Tuesday.
He said: Radio shows can take two years to get on air and there are so many restrictions about content now. Most people don't need nannying in that way.
It's got worse since the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand thing but even on my last show, there were battles. I wasn't allowed to use Schopenhauer's quote about history being a whore with syphilis as it was deemed offensive.
Comic Russell Brand said he would never tone down his comedy routine and was not afraid of censure. As hundreds of fans flocked to a DVD signing session in London yesterday, Brand leapt to the defence of fellow stand-ups Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle, who
were criticised recently for offensive routines.
Frankie Boyle is brilliant and Jimmy Carr is brilliant, he said. They're not trying to be offensive, no-one is actually offended, the people saying they're offended aren't actually offended, the whole thing is constructed.
He added: If you hear it (the joke] delivered cold, like vomit into the nape of your neck, it might be offensive, but mucking around I don't think is offensive.
Last year, Brand resigned from his job at BBC Radio 2 after a scandal surrounding a series of lewd messages he left on actor Andrew Sachs' answer phone. But he insists Manuel-gate , as Brand prefers to call it, was just rhubarb and guff and
he would do the same again.
I would've done nothing differently. I apologise for the thing I did wrong to the person I did it to, but the whole subsequent scandal was funny. It's just rhubarb and guff.
And he vowed never to tone down his own material for fear of further censure: I will not lose my edge.
Classes on goodies and baddies, endless rows about jokes in poor taste . . . is an increasingly cautious BBC suffocating new comedy and drama?
On Saturday, it will be one year since the BBC Trust ruled on Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand's dirty phone calls to Andrew Sachs. These represented deplorable intrusion with no editorial justification , the Trust concluded, but no further action
was necessary beyond the three-month suspension that Ross was then beginning to serve.
At the time, a common view (certainly mine) was that, 12 months on, Ross might well have found a job elsewhere, but that the BBC's general panic over editorial guidelines might have calmed down. In fact, it has gone the other way. Ross remains in his
post – a ghost of what he used to be, because of a strict system of precautionary recording and editing – while an increasing number of writers and performers are complaining about the effects of compliance : the system of BBC editorial defences
introduced after Ross/Brand and an earlier run of scandals over faked or misleading content.
BBC staff say they have been forced to spend hours vetting preschool children's series and classical music concerts for sex, violence and inappropriate language under idiotic compliance rules introduced after the Jonathan Ross scandal.
taff have told The Sunday Telegraph that his legacy is a burdensome bureaucracy which stifles creativity while being unlikely to prevent further incidents.
Under the enhanced compliance procedures, which apply to most pre-recorded programmes, every second of material to be broadcast must be watched or listened to check for unacceptable content, and a seven-page form must be filled out.
Among the programmes subjected to the new procedures are parts of the BBC's Armistice Day coverage. All episodes of the Teletubbies must be vetted, despite the show being aimed at under-threes and containing few or no normal words. Also being vetted
are many Radio 3 concerts of works written after 1900.
The Guardian have been sepaking to BBC's head of in-house comedy, Mark Freeland.
The BBC introduced stricter compliance procedures in the wake of the controversy over the lewd messages Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross left on Andrew Sachs's voicemail and faces accusations that it takes fewer creative risks.
Meanwhile Channel 4, proud of its reputation as the home of edgy comedy, is awaiting Ofcom's verdict on a joke made by Frankie Boyle in Tramadol Nights about the disabled son of Katie Price.
Freeland rejects suggestions that the BBC has lost its nerve in comedy, citing Psychoville and Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle as examples of bold shows broadcast since the Sachs affair. Coming up tonight is Mrs Brown's Boys, a
raucous, late evening BBC1 sitcom starring Brendan O'Carroll as the all-fecking, eponymous Dublin housewife. Freeland reckons British comedy is experiencing a golden age that compares favourably with US output in the genre.
People were saying comedy had gone into its shell. But it hasn't retreated from saying the unsayable, he argues. As long as your processes are right and you've made a judgment call that you can back up... I find the fact
that I'm sitting on a very combustible slate very exciting.
Tramadol Nights, Freeland accepts, would probably not be made by the BBC. He also claims to welcome the BBC soul-searching in the wake of Sachsgate, largely because it reminded programme-makers of the limits and especially
strictures on bullying.
There is a common decency which I hope people have adhered to in anything that comes out of here. But at the same time, if I thought we had lost our bottle then we are not doing our job as we ought to, he adds.
The compliance culture at the BBC has become an unbelievable nightmare since Sachsgate, Chris Evans has said.
The Radio 2 presenter said the furore over the prank phone calls made to Andrew Sachs by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand had changed the broadcasting landscape, with programming weighed down by extra rules and regulations.
Evans said the changes were needed because comedy on radio and television had become too coarse. What has happened since [Sachsgate] is very, very good but also a complete pain in the backside, he said.
It means comedy has become much more sophisticated but the compliance culture that has come in since, you wouldn't believe it. The compliance department of the BBC is so extensive it's an unbelievable nightmare.
Sometimes you come up with an idea and the compliance you have to go through is so great that you just say, 'Let's not bother'.
Radio X is a National DAB radio station providing an alternative music service for the 15-34s.
Russell Brand is a weekly programme broadcast between 11:00 and 13:00 on Sundays. The programme on 28 May 2017 was pre-recorded.
Ofcom received a complaint about sexual content during and immediately following a conversation between Russell Brand, Matt Morgan (the programme’s co-host on 28 May 2017) and Mr Gee (the programme’s resident poet) in the studio, and an Elvis
Presley tribute artist (‘Guest’), who they had contacted on the phone. The complainant considered the exchanges unsuitable for broadcast when children were listening.
The unscripted conversation included the following:
Brand: “Have you ever had sex as Elvis?”.
Guest: “I’ve done it without the jump suit, but I have kept the cape on”.
Brand: “That’s good, that’s how to do it. You can’t have sex with a jump suit on”.
Morgan: “Did you do the voice?”
Guest: “Well the only difficulty with that is they’re studded, you see, and they get very spikey and so they can cut you in places that you wouldn’t imagine”.
Brand: “I’m, I’m imagining them, James!”
Guest: “And if you’re on top of somebody, you know…”.
Brand: “Very, er, you’re a bit of a brutal lover there, James!”
Guest: “Well, yes, I am, especially when I’m covered in Rhinestones!”
Brand: “Phwoar, that’s the way to do it!”
Rule 1.3: “Children must…be protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them”.
Rule 1.5 “Radio broadcasters must have particular regard to times when children are particularly likely to be listening”.
Ofcom decision: Breach of rules 1.3 and 1.5
Ofcom first considered whether the material in this case was unsuitable for children.
The presenter asked Mr Burrell, the Elvis Presley tribute artist, whether he had ever had sex as Elvis. He responded by joking that he had kept his cape on, but not his studded jump suit, as “they get very spikey and so they can cut you in places
that you wouldn’t imagine”. After a brief studio reaction, the interview ended but was followed up by Mr Gee sharing an anecdote about Elvis Presley, which he had seen in a documentary. He claimed that the singer had left a hotel with a friend
after having just met a prostitute, and told him that “she gives tremendous head, tremendous head”.
Ofcom took into account Global’s view that Radio X targeted an ‘alternative’ audience and “maintains a distinction from other mainstream stations”, with “edgier content in [Russell Brand’s] show than on family-orientated pop music stations”.
Nevertheless, we did not consider the above was an appropriate topic of discussion for younger listeners and, in our view, it was unsuitable for children.
Ofcom then considered whether the broadcaster had had particular regard to times when children were particularly likely to be listening.
We took into account the Licensee’s acknowledgement, “in hindsight … that some of the further comments that followed the initial conversation – although brief – strayed into more mature themes”. Ofcom considered that Global should have taken this
into account when editing the pre-recorded programme.
It is Ofcom’s view that Global had not had particular regard to times when children were likely to be listening, in breach of Rule 1.5.