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Brand / Ross / Sachs

Russell Brand has apologised to Andrew Sachs for answerphone messages left during the former’s Radio 2 show. Now, I listened to that particular episode yesterday, and I laughed a lot. And I’m the first person to turn off comedians who crudely insult people for laughs – that’s not my thing at all. So I think this is all a bit odd.

This particular episode had been on my to-listen list for a while, as the guest co-host was Jonathan Ross. I’m a great admirer of both men, and I was looking forward to hearing them spar. And I wasn’t disappointed – I like that kind of fast wordplay and wit. I don’t remember thinking they were doing anything particularly offensive or awful, but here’s how the BBC described their actions:

Both Brand and Ross made obscene comments about Sachs’ 23-year-old granddaughter on a series of messages which they left on the actor’s voicemail during the segment.

That’s one way of phrasing it, but it’s hardly fair. They make it sound like a cruel prank, which it wasn’t – if you listen to the show, it’s clearly neither malicious nor deliberately insulting. Russell had, it turned out, slept with said granddaughter, and he and Jonathan agreed that this was something they definitely shouldn’t mention. Like, you know, the war. But when ex-Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs wasn’t in, they got his answerphone. And while trying to think of a message, things degraded into innuendo. I’m sure you can imagine. They later agreed that they felt bad about this message, so phoned back to apologise. This took a few phone calls, and the final one was pretty much ‘sorry. we’re sorry.’

I found it pretty funny. Others likely didn’t, which is fair enough. But to call it anything more than joking around is to assume a certain malice on the part of the presenters, which I don’t see. If you’ve spent any time watching or listening to Jonathan Ross, he’s obviously either kind, liberal and decent, or one a hell of an actor. Russell Brand is less someone I’d like to be friends with1, and he can sometimes be unpleasant during his trademark flights of verbal diarrhea, but when push comes to shove he has – to my view – a similar sense of kindness. 

But still, even if you’ve never heard either of them before, listening to the show in context should clear it up. They simply weren’t being nasty.

It’s unfortunate that Andrew Sachs apparently reacted badly, and I suppose the whole thing hinges on his reaction. Many people would, I suspect, have found the messages amusing. But that’s just unfortunate, and it shouldn’t be difficult to explain and demonstrate that no offence was intended. But a quick google blog search finds lots of reactionary right-wing whiners calling for them to be sacked. Which isn’t surprising, but is a bit pathetic.

These situations always remind me of the spectacular hissy fits after Jonathan Ross asked David Cameron whether he’d ever masturbated over Margaret Thatcher. Lots of prudes old right-wing prudes decided it was 1875 and any talk of sex in public should result in a jolly public hanging, or at least the stocks. It’s vulgar and disprespectful and blah get-off-my-lawn blah. They, as ever, failed to appreciate that rational people can talk in this way without being unpleasant. It’s about intent, not the simple words themselves. If you watch the video, the style of interview and questioning is obviously not cruel or malicious, and the reasons it’s funny are interesting in themselves. I’m not going to start analysing the comedy, but if you can’t figure out what’s going on there, maybe you shouldn’t be commenting on appropriate behaviour. If you don’t find it funny, fine, but to declare outrage and indecency and disrespect is making yourself look like a stuffy, empathy-less Victorian with no sense of nuance. If you can’t handle jokes about masturbation, I really don’t know what to say.

Anyway. If you’d like to hear the show for yourself, it’s still on the podcast feed here (it’s the show from the 18th October).

  1. My Booky Wook isn’t the nicest read ever []


  1. I totally agree with everything you’ve said here.
    I listened to the live radio-webcast as well and, while wiping the tears of laughter from my face, commented to my hubby “Someone’s going to get in trouble ‘cuz of that”.
    But it is the Pushing of Boundries that make both comedians the artists that they are.
    I sincerely hope the knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing prudes that disliked the show don’t succeed in having Brand fired or disciplined.
    I rather doubt the BBC would do that anyway as Russell’s show is one of the most listened to on their roster and let us remember, no publicity is bad publicity.
    I’m sure the BBC listener numbers will be higher next week as a result of all the free publicity the newspapers (and I use the noun ‘news’ loosely) are giving the story.

  2. I just want to say that I think you, and they, were Wrong. This was insulting rubbish of the worst kind. Having read the note above I’ve no doubt this will be deleted.

  3. Disagreeing with me doesn’t count as trolling, dude. Calm down.

  4. They have no right to be defaming Andrew Sachs, one of Britain’s great actors, and more of a great actor than either brand or ross could ever be.

  5. Cannot agree with you. If it was my daughter or grand daughter I would not find this acceptable – Put yourself in Sachs position, comments about bending her over etc and making up songs about it – broadcast to the nation. If he said these things about my daughter I’d find him and dish out some retributution. I’m no prude, neither am I right wing, but I think this is fairly indicative of the decline in societies standards that these two people personify. Its a have have have society and lets flaunt it whilst we’re at it. I think Rod Stewart that well known right wing whiner summed up the way I feel about the likes of Brand – despite the fact he is clearly a funny man…

  6. I really don’t have any idea what most of that meant, but “If he said these things about my daughter I’d find him and dish out some retributution” indicates that’s probably a good thing.

  7. I completely agree with most of the posters here, with the exception of TorontoViewer. Pushing the boundaries? More like scraping the barrel. What’s next, are they going to ring people and claim their children have been killed in a car crash? Perhaps TorontoViewer finds it amusing because presumably she doesn’t pay the license fee which pays the wages of these idiots. Type BBC complaints in Google and drop them a quick email. It takes about 2 minutes and you’ll be doing your bit to get these two ‘comedians’ off our airwaves.

  8. I thought it was hilarious but I can understand why people get bent of shape about it. The majority of posters on here have gone all Daily Mail about it though, “Personal Retribution”, “Get them off the Air Waves” etc. Calm down, it wasn’t that bad.

    Go and give it a listen, it’s very funny and they are two of the funniest people in the UK at the moment. Give Sachs an apology and make sure he’s alright about it and then get on with it again.

    Nice site Andrew, by the way.


  9. I shan’t get all ‘Daily Mail’ about it but it’s just not clever, nice or funny to boast to someone about having had sex with their granddaughter and go into detail about it. Indeed what’s clever, nice or funny about having had sex with someone and then blurting out the details over the radio? Andrew Sachs is pointlessly upset and I doubt his graddaughter is happy about it.

    If someone sets themselve up in the media as being something and can be taken down a peg by being shown to be hypocritical then that’s one thing but what possible point was being proved here?

    And “I’m sorry but it was funny” is not an apology. Anyone ever deeply offend and upset their ‘other half’ and then try that line as an apology? How did it go down?

    Pushing back the boundries of comedy? It’s about as imaginative as opening a church door in the middle of a service and shouting “arse”.

    “It’s unfortunate that Andrew Sachs apparently reacted badly, and I suppose the whole thing hinges on his reaction. Many people would, I suspect, have found the messages amusing.”

    REALLY?? Please find me one person who would like the sex life of their granddaughter made a subject of ridicule on national radio, or come home to answer phone messages like that.

  10. Yes, really. If they’d done the same thing to Ricky Gervais, say (not that he has a granddaughter, but whatever), nobody would care. The problem here is that Andrew Sachs didn’t like it, which is unfortunate. It’s fair enough to apologise. But I do actually think a lot of people would see the humour, because – like I was trying to explain – I don’t think it was at all about ridiculing people. If it had been done spitefully I’d be with you, but, imho, if you listen to the show in context it’s not cruel or intentionally hurtful, and certainly nothing like the impression you’d get from the news reports.

  11. I used to like Brand & Ross but not anymore. As some have suggested I did listen to it before commenting & I didn’t find it funny & the fact that some claim they did speaks volumes for the intelligence of some & the lowering of standards in this country.

    It was complete crap dressed up as entertainment by 2 guys with overblown egos who’s only claim to fame now appears to be that they can assault the nation with lewd & obscene comment using the BBC as their vehicle.

    If the BBC wasn’t dumbing down I would suggest they sack the pair of them & save us license fee payers a few bob in the process

  12. The point is why did Andrew Sachs or his publicist/manager/whoever agree to be interviewed by Brand/Ross when they know that their sense of humour is very close to the knuckle at times. The daughter in question is a 23 year old adult. Why should Mr. Sachs become the victim when at one time he played a stereotypical Spanish waiter in a sitcom which in itself was full of innuendo? That could have been construed as racist. So where’s the difference in the level of humour between the made-up Manuel and real-life Brand/Ross?

  13. People are using the word ‘innuendo’ a lot to describe the jokes. What I heard was Ross shout “He fucked your granddaughter!”. Even if the rest was innuendo and even IF the rest was funny, that comment wasn’t was it? It’s a new definition of innuendo if it is!

  14. Everyone knows that Russell’s world-view, especially when it comes to his sexual escapades, is a bit warped, and I had to wince when he quoted Sach’s granddaughter saying to him “please don’t tell my granddad about this” (talk about red-rag-to-a-bull – assuming the whole thing is true of course).

    I’m not going to say there was malice, but I think they both knew exactly how Andrew Sachs would feel when he heard the message. Ross’s “He fucked your granddaughter” comment was the low-point for me (apart from his cringe-worthy backing vocals). Although I think that the reaction has been overblown, I really am quite glad that they’re in some kind of trouble. Ross just seemed not to give a toss at all, and I just don’t see anything funny about that in this context.

    I think a genuine apology should fix things, but Russell’s attempt last night (which I admit I haven’t heard myself yet) sounds woefully inadequate.

    I will continue to listen to Russell Brand’s show. I think Alan Carr and David Baddiel both did a great job as guest hosts in previous weeks, but I wasn’t impressed with Jonathan Ross (though I do generally find him quite funny). BRING BACK MATT MORGAN!!!

    Oh, and the idea that most people could just laugh this off, were they in Sachs’ position, is ridiculous. Intentional ridicule or not, this was offensive to the girl and her grandfather. To argue otherwise shows a complete lack of empathy.

  15. Both Ross and Brand are egotistical tossers who probably would have no idea that what they were saying was incredibly offensive (although what JR would think if another broadcaster talked in the same terms about his own children, we can only speculate.)

    The most astonishing thing about this incident is that the material was pre-recorded and, given the chance for someone more sensible within the BBC to say ‘hang on a minute chaps…’, nobody did!

  16. I can’t help noticing how the targets of BBC presenters such as Brand and Ross are always “safe” ones, such as Mr. Sachs and his family.

    For some reason, the BBC’s “edgy” and “challenging” style of humour can never quite seem to bring itself to target and ridicule people like Barrack Obama, Bob Geldof, Bono, Osama bin Laden etc.

    Got any good jokes about sleeping with one of Nelson Mandela’s granddaughters, Russell?

  17. This is appalling, they should both be fired….AFTER the producer of the show. The apology was not an apology, it was another opportunity for the 2 outrageous individuals to show off how funny they tink they are.

    I would go as far as to say they should be charged with some sort of sexual crime against an individual….this MUST include the producer of the show…in fact I would go as far as to say the producewr should go 1st very closely followed by these 2 horrible people.

    But I guess the BBC will do it’s usual…it’s all in the name of entertainment. Well bnot for me it isn’t …I for one will swithch off when either of them come on TV or the radio

  18. Summer of George

    He’s a 78 year old man getting obscene sexual phone messages about his grand daughter.

    As a sketch it might have possible comic merit.

    But it wasn’t a sketch, it was to egocentric millionaires, whose wages are paid by English citizens ringing up an innocent old bloke and being utterly puerile.

    I wonder how amusing all of us would find coming home and hearing a couple of wankers leaving a series of messages about fucking their Kids whilst people hoot like twats in the background.

    I fancy ringing up Jane Goldman and leaving a series of infantile messages about how she gave me a soapytit wank while her daughters watched.

    It’s a joke and stuff.

  19. If I had behaved in this way at work I would face disciplinary action and therefore possible (and probable) dismissal.
    As a BBC licence payer I hope they are held to account.

  20. The “Is it funny or Is it not funny?” argument seems to have run its course guys, something else that I don’t quite get is the full story behind how this actually went to air.

    The show was pre-recorded and it was the job of a duty editor to listen to it and flag up any edits or changes before it went out.

    I cannot believe that someone charged with this task could listen to that and not hear the faint tinkling of alarm bells. My hunch is this programme was never reviewed at senior level, despite what the BBC claim. A number of possibilities occur to me.
    1. The programme was deliberately witheld by someone in the production team to circumvent the review process

    2. The task of reviewing the programme was delegated to someone far lower down the pecking order, and clearly unqualified to perform the task

    3. The senior person, never got round to listening to the show, but passed it anyway for some reason ie tiredness, family bereavement, couldn’t be arsed.

    And while the headlines and the sound bites orbit around some Tory MPs working themselves into a lather about sacking Ross and Brand, somebody picking up the best part of £60k for doing a relatively simple (but responsible) job is dodging all the flack.

    The BBC are never going to sack Ross or Brand. It would be commercial suicide, especially given the profile they have garnered since the weekend. Within an hour of being sacked they would be signed up by ITV, C4, Sky et all for twice the money they are on now.

    I sympathise with Summer of George’s suggestion, but none of us would actually do that because we have a sense of social responsibility and know that things can be funny and cruel and unneccessary all at the same time. A far worse punishment for Ross and Brand would be to make them continue to record programmes for the rest of their contracts and never put them out on air, starving them of the publicity their puerile, ego-fuelled, half-formed, fragile personalities crave to survive in Celeb-City.

  21. …Mind you, that wouldn’t really be fair on all the millions people who find publicly goading a septuagenarian about his granddaughter’s sex life hilariously funny and quite acceptable…

  22. “…Mind you, that wouldn’t really be fair on all the millions people who find publicly goading a septuagenarian about his granddaughter’s sex life hilariously funny and quite acceptable…”

    I’ve been trying to explain that this isn’t what happened. I wouldn’t find that funny, and I suspect neither would the two presenters. It’s just more subtle than that.

    It’s easy to say in hindsight, given that Mr Sachs did get offended, that it was obviously going to happen (and declare that anyone who thought otherwise has no empathy). But I don’t think it was – as I said, nobody would care if they’d done the same thing to Ricky Gervais.

  23. >It’s just more subtle than that.

    “He fucked your grand-daughter.” (Guffaw)

    Forgive me, but I’m having trouble seeing the subtlety there.

    Sack them both, and their producer. Oxygen thieves, the lot of them.

  24. @Andy M – my point is, I didn’t think they were being intentionally offensive, or trying to upset anyone. You can’t take that particular phrase and claim it’s indicative of the whole thing – that’s not fair. It is, in fact, more subtle than that, and is, believe it or not, a style of humour that isn’t trying to be cruel or demeaning. Maybe you don’t share it, and clearly Andrew Sachs doesn’t. And it’s probably fair that they apologise for causing upset. But I find most of the media reaction – and many of the comments here – simplistic, reactionary and over the top.

    Anyway, Ofcom is investigating now, and it’ll be interesting to see what they conclude.

  25. “nobody would care if they’d done the same thing to Ricky Gervais”

    How is that remotely the same as doing it to a 78 year old? It seems like some people are living in a fantasy world of some kind. Within the very first message Ross said “He fucked your granddaughter”. There’s no subtlety there. There’s no need to look at this with an ‘intellectual’ eye. It’s pretty simple.

  26. So, 78 year olds can’t share a similar warped sense of humour can they? Granted, I now admit that Ross and Brand overstepped the mark with this one (a serious error of judgement) – but I get a feeling that everybody is patronising Mr. Sachs because of his age.. And while we’re on the subject – I note that Mr. Sachs has been very gracious about it. He’s not been jumping up and down wishing to tear Brand and Ross apart. He’s been polite about the whole thing whereas the media and the pitchfork/blazing torches brigade want blood.

  27. “I’ve been trying to explain that this isn’t what happened. I wouldn’t find that funny, and I suspect neither would the two presenters. It’s just more subtle than that.”

    Fair point, I withdraw the millions of people remark. Humour is after all about context as much as anything else, and despite my personal opinion of how enjoyable I find Brand and Ross’s programmes (I don’t) I would defend their right to make them in which ever way they see fit. After all that is the creative process. The role of a broadcaster/producer is to make sure the material is appropriate to the audience. For the commercial broadcaster this may be as simple as making sure the humour generates revenue with no other criterion. For the public broadcaster it’s going to be complicated.

    In the end that’s why we pay people to review the material before it goes out on air, and it’s possible that both Ross and Brand had some kind of trust that this process would be followed.

    So back to the point I was originally making, and that is a simply don’t believe the BBC when they say this material was passed by a senior editorial staff member.

    I see the Daily Mail has tracked dow some spotty youth who was charged with the job of “clearing the material with Andrew Sachs” … I suspect he is now being pursued around the streets of Soho by tabloid media and Tory MPs brandishing pointy sticks.

    It’s the same the world over, Ross and Brand will keep their jobs (see previous post) and some work experience kid will be hung out to dry…

  28. I listened to the podcast when it first came out, and personally I found it hilarious. If the BBC sack Ross and Brand then they lose a whole lot of respect from me, and more importantly a pair of very funny shows with a large audience.

  29. Whether or not you found it funny is irrelevant, if so it says more about you than anything else. It was offensive – first because Brand claimed to reveal private information about a relationship with Sachs’s granddaughter (we don’t even know that this is true, but either way it’s offensive to broadcast it), and secondly because it passed on that private information to Sachs himself. Telling 2 million others takes it well into sacking territory, justifiably with no possible defence. I actually heard it when it went out and was appalled, so if you laughed, just listen to yourself. IT WASN’T FUNNY, you obviously get your kicks from other people being humiliated. I’m sorry for you and would suggest you stop owning up to such a perverted sense of humour before you make yourself look a complete berk.

  30. One cannot get away from the fact that these are two exceptionally media savvy guys, they are professionals, they are not unaware of the boundaries or the recent issues that have led to broadcasters being fined for activities involving the use of telephones! They are both paid significant sums to be competent and professional. Leave aside all the moralising, if they worked for me I would fire them for taking an unwarranted risk with the reputation of my organisation. Funny or not to one segment of the community it was obvious that it would have been regarded as in bad taste by a huge number of people and as professional commedians they should recognise that. In the same way that the banking community overstepped the mark because the incentive to take risk was too great, I believe these two have overstepped the mark because the incentive to take risk was too great.

    I was fascinated this morning to hear the finger of blame being pointed at the BBC editorial team for letting the recording go out. Whilst there is editorial culpability, that was after the event, the phone message had been placed, that was the first error of judgement – and may of course have been an illegal act.

  31. @Jason Tait – thanks for that. As I’ve been trying to explain, what you find offensive might not be what other people find offensive. I’m sure this is hard to believe, but there are people who wouldn’t find it humiliating, wouldn’t take offence and would find the situation funny. The humour of the show, as opaque as you obviously find it, is obvious to lots of people. And writing them all off as ‘perverted’, just because you can’t understand how this could be non-offensive, isn’t very nice. Because, as I’ve said, I didn’t think it was deliberately malicious or intended to cause hurt. Obviously Andrew Sachs didn’t find it funny, and we can argue about appropriate responses, what should be done and whether it should have been stopped, etc..

    Plus, and it’s hard to believe I have to explain this, you can’t just rephrase a situation and say ‘look, it’s not funny’. A guy takes a dead parrot back to a shop – what’s funny about that? That’s animal cruelty. But clearly it can be funny – it’s about how it’s done. Which is my point about subtlety. So please don’t shout about what’s funny and what’s not – if you want to argue about anything I mentioned before, go head, but hurling insults around makes you look a bit silly.

  32. Fire them both Ross is a smug coward. bet he would not have done this to George galloway

  33. Andrew said: “As I’ve been trying to explain, what you find offensive might not be what other people find offensive”

    You just don’t get it, do you Andrew?

    The fact that you didn’t find it offensive is irrelevant – you are not the epicentre of the universe. What matters is that many people, including Andrew Sachs himself, DID find it offensive.

    Sorry for not realising that Brand and Ross’s pathetic behaviour was right up there with the all-time comedy greats like the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch, how silly of me. By the way, that was funny because it was a brilliantly-presented example of someone not seeing the blindingly obvious, a classic comedy scenario. Hope you get the joke now.

    Also sorry you find the deliberate public humiliation of a distinguished actor and his granddaughter amusing, but as I said before that says more about you than anything else.

    Your final snide remark to me was totally inappropriate for a blog host, so I shall continue the debate elsewhere.

  34. Yeah, I think the Have Your Say boards might be a more appropriate forum for that kind of thing.

  35. Before lazily accepting the conventional views on this incident, I think it is worth
    looking at the facts of the story.
    Andrew Sachs has asked the Ross and Brand to apologise to his granddaughter.
    Georgina is not an innocent young child, but a 23 year old woman who is a member
    of a dance group called Satanic Sluts, who advertise ‘slutty activity’ as part of their act.
    She advertises herself as a Swinger on MySpace according to the Daily Mail.
    I’m not saying this makes her a fair target, she has the same rights to privacy and respect
    as anyone else. But unless you are totally naive, it seems pretty obvious that this whole
    incident has probably been rather good for her career (more media exposure = more success for her dance group, or anything else she does in show business).
    As for the other victim Andrew Sachs, which is more upsetting, to receive a call from Brand that he is shagging his granddaughter, or the news that his granddaughter is joining a group
    called Satanic Sluts?

  36. Of course the whole thing pales to insignificance when you consider, as the BBC pointed out this afternoon, that UN troops are pulling out of The Democratic republic of Congo leaving many to die and/or become homeless. Gordon Brown did not speak publicly once today on this matter BUT condemned the questionable actions of two British comedians. The fact that this post of Andrew’s has garnered this much attention speaks volumes for the complete and utter ignorance and banality of British society as it is today. Are these really the things that bother us? Because if so; forget Brand and Ross, we’re all doomed.

  37. How refreshing to read an article that viewed the Radio Show/Answer message(s) as what they were, JOKES! Where has everyones sense of humour gone!?! We’re supposed to be British, we’re supposed to flourish in the Shaudenfreudian delights that Brand’s spontaneous, dare I say Tongue in cheek phone calls deliver!?

    When I watched the fuss kicked up after the VMAs in America, I couldnt believe the ridiculous comments some made about insulting their “Commander in Chief” etc etc. His comments about the Jonas Bros were a slight on the Capitalist connotations of “branding” (ahem) yourself as “Virgins” in order to target a particular market, and for only that reason. I dismissed the over-reactions as a mis-understanding brought about by Americas differing sense of humour.

    But to now hear British people over react about such a minor issue saddens me. Ok, someone was offended. The two apologised. That should be the end of it. But sadly people who only heard/read about this story in their Daily Mail (other newspapers are available) are putting at risk the best two things about the BBC.

    And lets not forget good old Duncan Bannantyne who received similar answerphone messages on the same show a year or so ago, who took it as it was intended, a joke.


  38. JOKE!!!???? Are you serious?????
    This was a childish and offensive prank. If you think it was only a joke, you’re in a BIG minority. (“…if it seems everyone is mad but you….. you’re mad!”)
    I can’t imagine Jane Ross is laughing knowing that her husband and father to her children is such a childish and evil, 47 year old idiot!!!

  39. There are people in my local pub who are much funnier than either of these two, but I’m not going to tell you where it is.

  40. “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…’

    Later in the programme Brand even joked about the idea that Mr Sachs might consider suicide as a result of their comments.”

    The above is directly from the Daily Mail… this is a joke?! The guys are sick perverts to say this to a Grandfather!

  41. Honestly, I think this is the single biggest overreaction I have ever witnessed. I think storm in a tea cup about sums it up. I agree that the phone call was offensive, it was, no matter what camp you are in saying this to a 78 year old man is offensive. However no more offensive than clearly racist headlines in the papers which are making a furore about this incident. Brand and Ross are much loved comedians and although in the wrong should not lose their jobs over such a miniscule incident, most of the people who have complained are not regular viewers, have no context to support the complaints and have merely jumped on the bandwagon. The complaints over wasting tax payers money seems to miss the striking difference in quality between the BBC and all the other terrestrial channels and how many viewers Brand and Ross get. Also those of you who have mentioned the ‘cowardice’ of the two and that they wouldnt say it to ‘Bob Geldof’ seem to be unaware of Russell saying very similar things to Bob Geldof at the NME awards. It all seems a little petty to me, I feel bad for the guy but to call him one of Britains loved actors is a bit steep, he had one role and thats it, he’s not exactly Michael Caine. It is offensive but swap your nooses for an apology and I think we’re sorted, and we can all find something else to scream and shout about. It’s called moral panic and you all may aswell ride the red top train to the ‘oh my god what about the children, the next generation’ station and throw in your two pennies there.

  42. a. It’s not miniscule. (imagine it was your daughter/granddaugher)
    b. The calls were illegal (not just morally questionable) and in any other job, you’d be fired and then prosecuted. (even if you were a genius)
    c. Famous actor or not, it was wrong.
    d. JR earns £6m quid of OUR MONEY to do this.
    e. A BBC manager authorised this pre-recorded (not live!) tat to be broadcast.

    As in the Daily Mail, “Ross could be heard singing quietly to himself: ‘Your granddaughter …she was bent over the couch…’ “.

    If this is now considered a miniscule and unimportant message to leave on a 78 year old’s answer phone about his Granddaughter, and the furore caused, considered overreaction then……

  43. This is like politics/religion, you either think one way or the other and nothing will change.

    But this is an ABSOLUTE. It was illegal and morally wrong. FACT…. not a debating point.

    I don’t like the fact at all that the GD was a member of a band called the Satanic Sluts (with a website that harks back to the SS), or slept with Brand. However, all that is irrelevent for this purpose.

  44. If I were Andrew Sachs, I would be far more angry and embarrased that the entire nation now knows what his granddaughter gets up to. Let’s face facts. Have people actually seen what she does in her Satanic Sluts dance troup? Not offensive at all. She then sleeps with a celebrity in what was implied to be a threesome with one of her dancers (in earlier radio shows) and then sells her story to the Sun, claiming with no sense of irony whatsoever that her “relationship” with Brand should be a private one. By selling her story, she has lost what little moral high-ground she had. This *is* relevant to the story, because she is now leading the demands to have them sacked.

    Yes I think they went too far. No it shouldn’t have been broadcast. But losing their jobs? Over this? Come on!

  45. The illeagality of this issue is questionable as these were not as so many papers have called it ‘prank calls’. A prank call is a deliberate abuse on an unsuspecting person. Sachs HAD been booked for the show, they had his number, they rang him to ask why he was not on the show, things got out of hand. I feel a bit bemused as to how the red tops can call for them to be prosecuted when they themselves have published dozens of stories of people who have claimed to have slept with Brand, atleast he wasn’t lying, so there is the libel case out of the window. Also the girl has now forfeited her right to prosecute them by talking to the papers. It IS miniscule in comparison to news which should make the headlines, 135 people have died in a Pakistani earthquake, An MS sufferer has been denied the right for her husband to assist her death (denied the right to die), and Guede has been convicted of the Kercher murder. If you still think this issue is of pressing importance stick to reading the sun and the mail, because I doubt real papers will cover the story for much longer.

  46. Anyone who thinks these calls were made without malice is either willfully disingenuous or extremely naive. should they lose there jobs? possibly not. should we paying £18 million for wanking gags? you’d get better in the local playground.

    anyone who thinks that Sach’s reaction went overboard either a) has no children of their own b) has not read the FULL text of what the pair said on his answerphone.

    i may be biased as i have never found either of these two clowns to be even remotely amusing or entertaining. this debacle only goes to reinforce my views on them.

  47. A comedians right to perform jokes which others find offensive is something we must cherish and protect. Greats like Lenny Bruce, George Carlin even Oscar Wilde were persecuted for offending society’s views on what constituted decent behavoir.

    Ross and Brand are intelligent people who often skirt around the edge of conservative outrage, but they’re just not funny.

    There was no comedy in what they did. We could all pick a person, mock them for no reason and people would laugh. We learn that at school. Its embarassing to see ‘professionals’ do it.

    Out of this, hopefully, we can become a little more discerning in who/what we watch/listen to and make it harder for lazy comedians to build careers on being slightly less outrageous than our grandparents.

  48. @liam – quite. The ‘prank calls’ description is annoying me, as millions of people are getting the impression think it was a deliberately cruel act, which just isn’t what happened.

  49. Jason Tait:
    It was offensive – first because Brand claimed to reveal private information about a relationship with Sachs’s granddaughter (we don’t even know that this is true, but either way it’s offensive to broadcast it), and secondly because it passed on that private information to Sachs himself. Telling 2 million others takes it well into sacking territory, justifiably with no possible defence.

    Assuming it is true – and Georgina Baillie’s refusal to deny it suggests to me that it is – how would you feel if the boot was on the other foot. If the relationship had been revealed by Baillie in a tabloid kiss-and-tell story, say. It’s safe to say the newspapers that have whipped up this anti-BBC hysteria wouldn’t be in the least bit outraged. Would the 18,000 people who have complained to the BBC, have similarly complained to whatever newspaper printed the story? Would they all be lobbying the Satanic Sluts to demand Baillie’s sacking?

    This mass faux outrage is the most pathetic and ridiculous over-reaction since Princess Diana’s funeral.

  50. “Your final snide remark to me was totally inappropriate for a blog host, so I shall continue the debate elsewhere.”

    This is absolute gold. Part of the reason I *have* a blog is so I can make snide remarks to idiots; I’d always assumed that was the same for everyone else…

  51. For the love of god… what is it about the need for people to moan? It was a joke… not a very rude one considering that it was broadcast past the watershed of 9pm! Build a bridge people! If its not your thing then don’t listen, but don’t force people to subscribe to what you find funny, entertaining or above board for a 10pm slot! Comedy is progressing, get over it! If we were to maintain a level of conservatism with regard to comedy then Punch and Judy would still be the top comic talents in this country! Mr. Sachs has already come out today and said it was no big deal and recommended the BBC not to take action… probably because he gets the joke! The only person in all of this causing a major ripple is the grand-daughter, who, god bless her, had to spend all day yesterday and today in the Sun’s London office milking the story for cash….. Making money of this “distasteful” act…. IRONYYYYYYY!

  52. If any other organisation other than the BBC had left messages like that on an answerphone, the people responsible would have been sacked immediately.
    If, for example, someone from a university, a commercial company, whoever, had left a message that on your answerphone, I think you might be a little bit peeved.
    Now in addition to hearing the message, you find it has been broadcast to two million people. I think you might be more than peeved.
    Why should be BBC be exempt from the sort of treatment that would have been meted out to any other organisation?

  53. In ANY other company you’d be fired for less.

    Ross has been suspended.

    Brand has quit.

    ’nuff said.

  54. Completely agree with the BLOG…..they apologised, and have apologised since the issue has been madepublic, how it recieved so many complaints 11 days after it went out on air, must mean that people were interested, listened to the show online (via podcast / youtube) and jumped on the bandwagon

  55. Didn’t hear it, and have never been a fan of Brand or Ross. But:
    1) Why the outrage over the fact that Andrew Sachs is 78, as if this makes him more of a victim than he’d otherwise have been? He’s not a doddery old man, and it’s weird and offensive to suggest that this is relevant to the question of whether the calls were acceptable or not.
    2) It appears that Sachs wasn’t aware of this until last Wednesday, when his agent let him know about it. So – does the guy not listen to his own answerphone messages? Is this because he’s a doddery old man who doesn’t know how modern machines work?

  56. I generally agree with your post. I didn’t find what I’ve heard of the incident particularly funny, but so what?

    What I find quite disgraceful is that our prime minister has got time to be commenting on this sort of nonsense, and that it’s been the first item on the news for the last couple of days. People really really need to get some perspective and complain about things that actually matter.

  57. You are right, abut they were wrong(?) I listened and thought it was all rather pathetic… though nothing requiring the kind of furore we are seeing. FYI Andrew Sachs did not over react – actually the real trouble was started by a reporter who called Mt Sachs’ agent. The agent in question forgot that anything he might say will be interpeted as coming from the horses mouth (as it were). In fact the agents reaction was nothing like that of his client. Mr Sachs has stated from the begining… ‘and apology will suffice it’s no big deal’.

    The real problem here is the media (jokes look alot different at 8am on the front page of the daily mail than they do at 9pm on a Staturday night), the scaredy cats in the BBC management, and last but not least, the sad old ladies who have nothing better to do with their lives that get indignant over their morning tea

  58. I think the time has come to stop stressing. Brand is gone, and Ross is wounded.

    I think there is an age gap with concerns, and generation related for sure. If you’re under 30 or so with no kids/grandkids, you’ll think it’s a storm in tea-cup, if you’re older and have kids you’ve probably been like me…. incensed.

    However, Brand-liking/Brand-laughing is certainly generational generally, and HIS fate is not my concern here.

    But if Ross was my mate as a contemeporary, I’d distance myself from him. Ricky Gervais (often edgy and controversial in stand up…. witness ‘Politics’ and his holocaust joke) is still a sensible and mature adult, and historically, a good mater of Wossy. It’ll be interesting to see how that friendship goes, and how Wossy’s marriage goes.

    If you’re younger than me, you’ll think I’m worrying for nought, and should ‘get a life’, if you’re not, you probably think a 12 week suspension is not adequate (just remember the only 3 months suspension without pay is a£1.5M wage hit….. makes you realise how much he’s paid).

    The end. (until next time! And there WILL be a next time!)

  59. A lot, perhaps too much already, has been said about the above-named incident, but unless I’ve
    missed it I haven’t really come across anything that focuses on what I see to be at the heart of the matter, stripped away a bit from the public nature of the personalities involved.

    What I’d like to know actually is what IS this peculiar, primarily male, trait of needing to be publicly indiscrete about what should be the most intimate of secrets between two people, whatever the level of any subsequent relationship?

    I once had an ex-lover who used to delight in telling graphic public tales outlining his and my sexual antics and is probably dining out on it to this day. It was absolutely horrifying, even on a small and local scale. I’m quite sure if this guy could have taken to the airwaves with his indiscretions he would have done so with gusto.

    Like all womanizers, Brand drags out that old cliche “I just love women” to justify his promiscuity, and then does the ultimately un-gentlemanly thing by dis-respectfully exploiting what appears to have been a stress-free casual affair, in order to create “anarchic” humour on a show for which he gets paid large amounts of money. Recalling Olivier famously telling Hoffman to “try acting” instead of killing himself with the rigours of method training, perhaps someone should tell Brand to do just the opposite: “try writing” instead of regurgitating moments of his private life, without consent of others, as a lazy alternative to the hard work of using his undoubtedly sharp intellect to dissect society with intelligence and wit, as well as flair.

    By choosing, as the target of his hastily concocted prank-a-deux, a woman with a blatantly sexual image, he is reviving that primal chauvanistic prejudice that brands, no pun intended, a liberated female as the archetypal scarlet woman. So whilst consensual non-monogamous sex should be acceptable between two adults who need to trust each other with the reasonable assumption that no undue harm should result from the assignation, instead we’re getting that same ole “yeah i banged her!”/”she’s a slag!” dichotomy that I hoped wasn’t still hanging around in people of Brand’s generation.

    Worse, I have now read some really vile comments on the Internet directed at Georgina Baillie from fans of Brand, that practically accuse her of orchestrating the entire affair in order to gain herself notoriety for her Burlesque act. Some go less far but insist that she should be glad of the media attention because, hey, after all we’re talking about a chick who runs around in black corsets and tutus with fangs on in a group with the word “sluts” in it. Personally, although the particular aesthetic of her act is not something that particularly rocks my boat (I think erotic angels would be far more radical), I would agree with Voltaire: “how abominably unjust to persecute a [woman] for such an airy trifle as that!”

    Sheesh, has the battle for mutual respect between the genders and sexual orientations progressed so little then than in the first decade of the 21st century, one of our leading young comics who is supposedly bridging the generation gap between the new crop of precocious youth and the old guard, turns out to hold the boringly double-standardised attitude towards women and sexual politics that I thought had long ceased being a la mode?

    That’s the real dirty little secret of this whole rather undignified hullabaloo.

    When did it come back in fashion to Brand, yes pun intended this time, women as whores simply because they choose to be as sexually free as the men who presumably want them to be that way in order to successfully bed them in the first place?

    Are things still like that between the gander and the goose?

    The real shame is that Russell has demonstrated through this most nakedly un- self-conscious act that he not only has something of the nasty tattle-tale about him, but deep-down inside holds repellent misogynistic views which he assumes to be so normal that he still doesn’t quite yet get what he’s supposed to be saying for.

    Or to whom he ought to be saying sorry.

    My disappointment in Brand is not for what he did so much nearly as much as it is for what it revealed about how he really thinks. Surely an even worse disappointment is in the voices, thankfully outnumbered, that have rushed to defend Brand in ways that expose their own woman-bashing justifications for why Georgina is owed no apology (see Les Wilson of Farnborough, Hants Times Online letters October 30, and some of the authors published here).

    Now, after being publicly shamed and getting exposure she never asked for in a way no-one would ask for it, if she does try to take the experience to the bank, she’ll undoubtedly get criticized for trying to cash in!

    Hey Georgina, I heard the Beeb has an unexpected release of $1.5 million at the moment!

    Sadly, despite undoubtedly being far more entertaining, funnier, sexier, and less offensive than Brand’s radio prank, I’m sure that the Satanic Sluts Burlesque Show would probably be in breach of some kind of decency standard or other.

    Yours sincerely,

    Diana Rosalind Trimble

  60. What I’d like to know actually is what IS this peculiar, primarily male, trait of needing to be publicly indiscrete about what should be the most intimate of secrets between two people, whatever the level of any subsequent relationship?

    Because media kiss-n-tell stories are “primarily male”, aren’t they? Think of all the famous straight men who have been brought down by ex-lovers. Now try to think of even one famous straight woman who’s suffered the same fate. (This is also partly down to that other double-standard: if one of two consenting heterosexual adults subsequently regrets a sexual encounter, then the man is usually painted as having been the predator and the woman the victim.)

    There are two important reasons (amongst others) why rich, famous, powerful, men pay expensive prostitutes despite, like Brand, being able to “get their chicks for free”: prostitutes disappear afterwards and prostitutes are discreet afterwards. Even that isn’t guaranteed if someone is prepared to offer enough money—there’s a reason why prostitutes are so called.

    We live in a reality show, confessional culture. I too have had the experience of people I’ve never spoken to knowing things about me that even my mother doesn’t know. I’m not daft or bitter enough to put it down to some “primarily female” tendency. It’s simply that there’s no such thing as a secret any more. And that’s another reason to be careful who you share a bed with.

  61. @Diana – thanks for the comment.

    I’m similarly unimpressed by the people who’ve attacked Georgina Baillie. Her career and choices aren’t relevant to the situation, and such comments do smack of misogyny. I’d rather they weren’t muddying the waters on the ‘my’ side of the argument.

    But, I find Russell Brand more complex than you’ve suggested. I’ve been listening to his radio show for a long time, and I think you’re mischaracterising him somewhat. Obviously his infamous libido is a, er, prominent part of his comic personality, and he certainly treads a fine line occasionally, but I’ve never picked up on the kind of repellent views you suggest. Even reading My Booky Wook, in which he’s pretty bloody horrible to a lot of women, I got the impression of a sense of decency – but one that admittedly broke spectacularly when he was on serious drugs. But his post-drugs radio show is similarly decent – he’ll say things during quickfire rants, then he’ll make a comment to nullify it. I find him the same as comedians like Jack Dee or Jonathan Ross – they say things which raise eyebrows, but then they grin and say something off-hand and you realise they don’t mean it nastily – you feel like you see the real them beneath, and they seem genuine and likeable. Maybe I’m wrong: maybe this is a clever way to say horrible things and get away with it. But I have a hard time believing that. Check out his resignation video – to me it’s genuine (and classier than practically all the coverage this week) and representative of the guy I thought I was listening to.

    Obviously people’s interpretations differ, and ‘I think he’s ok’ is far from a compelling argument, but I mention it because I’m the first person to turn off comedians who do treat women badly, and I certainly have no interest in defending such people.

    On the show in question I didn’t pick up on any ‘I banged her / she’s a slag’ vibe. He mentioned he’d slept with her, but only because of the Andrew Sachs link – I think this, rather than the ‘liberated female’ idea, was the primary motivation. Obviously, the fact that he mentioned it at all is something worth discussing. I can see that many people regard such things as private – your use of ‘un-gentlemanly’ is interesting – but I personally don’t see why saying you’ve slept with someone is inherently not-ok. I don’t see any compelling inherent ‘right’ to privacy, although I of course think people should always be polite. But surely the politeness/impoliteness is in the way it’s brought up? As well as whether the other party would want such details broadcast, of course, which is probably one of the places this show stepped over the line. Admittedly it’s one of those things where my automatic reaction is ‘ooh, not sure about that’, but I have trouble backing that up with anything substantial.

    But even if we agree that it was impolite and wrong to mention it, I can’t see that it indicates any inherent misogyny. Thoughtless humour, some would say, but nothing more.

  62. Perhaps “Pooter Geek” misunderstands my point. While I do think that the tendency to brag about the numbers of people you’ve shagged is a more typically male trait, in my experience, actually the point of what I was saying and the attitude that I find prevalent amongst males, is having the opinion that women who are comfortable being sexually experimental somehow are not “deserving” of privacy. I am not “putting down” the male gender in a general way and fortunately the men in my life, my life friends and cohorts wouldn’t dream of acting in this way towards a female they’d had some little fling with.

    Is having a threesome categorically defined as being sleazy or unnatural, and does having engaged in one (as in the original bloggers example) rescind one’s expectation not to have it discussed as public radio entertainment?

    It is these prejudicial and sexually bigoted dualisms that I find repugnant and unevolved and I’m sorry to find that there are still lots of men apparently, including “Pooter Geek” who feel that way too.

    I quote from the above “There are two important reasons (amongst others) why rich, famous, powerful, men pay expensive prostitutes despite, like Brand, being able to “get their chicks for free”: prostitutes disappear afterwards and prostitutes are discreet afterwards. ”

    I find it funny that “Pooter Geek” assumes that one of the things Brand would value most in a prostitute is the fact that she will “disappear afterwards” and be “discrete”.

    So it’s a good thing Brand wasn’t being paid for his private performance, as he hasn’t bothered to honour either BASIC rule of conduct.

    Come on, “Pooter Geek”, this isn’t, sorry to trot out the old cliché, rocket science.

  63. [T]he attitude that I find prevalent amongst males, is having the opinion that women who are comfortable being sexually experimental somehow are not “deserving” of privacy.

    This isn’t just a sexist thing to say; it’s simply untrue. Yesterday evening I was at a Halloween party and said to another guest: “Knowing everything about Brand, why would anyone sleep with him?”
    Immediately, a twentysomething woman piped up with “I’d sleep with him. It’s a story to tell afterwards, isn’t it?”
    It certainly is true that people in general have less respect for the sexual privacy of people who publicly exploit their sexuality for personal gain. Shocking that, isn’t it?

    Is having a threesome categorically defined as being sleazy or unnatural, and does having engaged in one (as in the original bloggers example) rescind one’s expectation not to have it discussed as public radio entertainment?

    No it doesn’t. Next question?

    It is these prejudicial and sexually bigoted dualisms that I find repugnant and unevolved and I’m sorry to find that there are still lots of men apparently, including “Pooter Geek” who feel that way too.

    You are the one who has expressed “prejudicial and sexually bigoted dualisms”. I’m the one pointing out that modern men and women are a lot more similar than stereotypes paint them. I wonder which of us the words “repugnant” and “unevolved” would be better applied to. What’s even more ironic is that, having falsely attributed sexist views to me, you then blame my being a man for my holding such views. It’s like a parody of feminism.

    I find it funny that “Pooter Geek” assumes that one of the things Brand would value most in a prostitute is the fact that she will “disappear afterwards” and be “discrete”.

    I wasn’t talking about Brand. I was talking about rich and powerful men who use prostitutes. And I was, in fact, paraphrasing a woman: Heidi Fleiss the “infamous” “Hollywood madame”, when asked by one of her employees why male film stars would pay to have sex with her when they could “have almost any woman they wanted”. Heidi should know; it was how she made her money. (And when her business was threatened, she hit back by threatening to go public about the sexual habits of Hollywood’s rich and powerful.) What Fleiss actually said was even more direct: “Darling, they don’t pay you to have sex with them; they pay you to go away afterwards.”

  64. Just an Informer

    The attitude that I find prevalent amongst males, is having the opinion that women who are comfortable being sexually experimental somehow are not “deserving” of privacy.

    I’d agree with you more if I hadn’t seen these images of Georgina

    http://www.popbitch.com/tshirts/ [note: NSFW]

    I guess making a porno kind of makes Russell telling her grandad he’s fucked her a little less of an attack on her privacy and probably tears up these rules of ‘basic conduct.’

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