Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Thursday 30 October 2008

Sachs, Brand and Ross

I did not hear the 'infamous' broadcast; I'm not a Radio2 listener. I do usually watch Jonathan Ross of a Friday evening on BBC1 and find it amusing, if crude. I have watched Russell Brand on Channel4 before and find him very amusing, surprisingly articulate and completely surreal and a living example of how little I understand the psychology of women who, at least according to Russell Brand himself, find him sexy and attractive.

I've now heard/watched recordings of their broadcast including the parts which consisted of telephone 'prank' calls to Andrew Sachs telephone answering machine. The content is crude, vulgar, profane, cruel and malicious - all in the name of humour. Brand has now done the 'decent thing' and resigned, after having been (along with Ross) 'suspended' by the BBC.

However the cynic in me is forced to point out that Russell Brand has a new comedy series starting tonight on Channel4 (Russell Brand's Ponderland); perhaps that's really the only reason Brand has resigned from the BBC so readily. Channel4 were advertising this last evening, so one must assume his new series there is still going ahead.

I really don't mind the fact that some people are paid a lot - if the BBC is mad enough to pay Jonathan Ross GBP18mio for a 3-year contract then that is for the BBC to decide. However, we as citizens really need to re-consider whether we wish to continue to bankroll this institution to the same extent and in its current format. My view for a few years has been that the BBC licence fee should be abolished and that the BBC should become a subscription-based news channel, possibly supported by some form of advertising - a little like Channel4. If the BBC wishes to continue to provide the universal service it tries to, from the highest- to the lowest-brow, then it needs to understand that taxpayers shouldn't be expected to continue to foot the bill.

I don't think I'm a 'prude' (although I dislike profanity intensely) and if people, me included, wish to watch people like Jonathan Ross then we should be permitted to, but I don't think everybody should have to pay for it through a licence fee; I can make the choice about subscribing to it or not myself, thank you very much. I have heard it mentioned that the kind of calls which Brand and Ross made to Andrew Sachs's telephone, in a work situation, would at a private company have resulted in their immediate dismissal, also that it is an offence to make such calls. If this is true I am at a loss as to why both were not summarily dismissed by the BBC. I respect Andrew Sachs's decision not to bring the police into the case, so I have nothing to say about that aspect of the case.

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