Van www.bbc.co.uk, 29-10-2008. 29 okt.2008

Brand and Ross suspended by BBC

Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand are to be suspended and all their shows taken off air until the BBC has investigated their prank calls made on Radio 2.


The news was announced in a statement by director general Mark Thompson.
    Meanwhile, Georgina Baillie has told the Sun that Ross and Brand should be sacked over the calls made to her grandfather, actor Andrew Sachs.
    The prime minister had also criticised the pair for "inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour".
    Brand and Ross made a series of prank calls to Sachs, 78, famous for his part in Fawlty Towers. The calls were broadcast on Radio 2 as part of Russell Brand's pre-recorded Saturday night show on 18 October.
    During the calls, Ross swore and said Brand had slept with Sachs' granddaughter.
    More than 18,000 people have complained to the BBC.

'Breach of privacy'
Mr Thompson said he would be returning from a holiday and would "in the coming days, announce what action we will take".
    "Since Sunday, I have been in regular contact with the senior executives I tasked with handling this issue," he said.
    "In the meantime, I have decided that it is not appropriate for either Russell Brand or Jonathan Ross to continue broadcasting on the BBC until I have seen the full report of the actions of all concerned.
    "This gross lapse of taste by the performers and the production team has angered licence payers."
    He added his "own personal and unreserved apology to Andrew Sachs, his family and to licence fee payers for the completely unacceptable broadcast".
    BBC One show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross was due to have been filmed at BBC Television Centre, west London, later on Wednesday.
    Guests on the show were to have been Sir David Attenborough, comedian Frank Skinner, US teen singer Miley Cyrus and band The Killers. The BBC said people with tickets to be in the audience should not attend.
    A decision has yet to be taken on what should be shown in its place on Friday night.
    Ross's Saturday morning radio show, as well as Brand's Saturday night radio show, have also been pulled from Radio 2's schedules.

'Lovely old man'
Meanwhile, Ms Baillie, 23, told the Sun the pair should "pay for what they've done with their jobs".
    She said her grandfather was "really upset and says he wants the whole situation to end".
    "What's funny about humiliating a lovely old man who has never harmed anyone in his life?" she added.
    She said Brand and Ross were "beyond contempt".
    "It was bad enough that they recorded these things on my grandfather's answer machine but astonishing the BBC saw fit to broadcast it when they could have stopped it.
    "Someone high up at the BBC must have decided it was funny and suitable for national radio. They've shown an appalling lack of judgement."
    On Tuesday afternoon, Sachs told the BBC that Ross had "personally delivered a letter of apology and some flowers" since the broadcast.
    He has not "heard anything" from Brand, the actor added.

'Risky line'
Conservative shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a speech to the London School of Economics on Wednesday that it was "wrong for broadcasters to produce programmes that legitimise negative social behaviour".
    He told BBC News the corporation's reaction to the affair was "concerning".
    "We still don't know who gave permission for that broadcast to go out.
    "It looks like it broke the broadcasting code about not doing things that are offensive and not doing things that breach people's privacy."


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