The BBC have announced today that Russell Brand and Johnathan Ross have been suspended following a series of prank calls to Andrew Sachs broadcast on Brand’s pre-recorded show on October 18th.
I don’t condone what Brand and Ross did on their show, but MPs calling for them to lose their jobs and the BBC suspending them until the incident is investigated is just blowing everything out of proportion. When the news initially broke, only a handful of complaints were made.
This is yet another case of overreaction by the British media to goad people in to complaining, even if they didn’t actually hear the incident first hand. When the news first broke, our local news reported 67 complaints, not even a handful of Brand’s total audience. After the Daily Mail featured a report on it, OfCom then decided to investigate the incident. A few days later, over 18,000 complaints and the whole thing is what everyone is talking about.
The mistake here really lies with the production team. The show was not live, it was pre-recorded, giving the producer a chance to completely cut the prank. Reports suggest that there was more that they didn’t actually broadcast, so why did some of the incident survive the cutting room floor?
Brand and Ross are two of the most popular figures on the BBC. Love them or hate them, they attract massive audiences to their Radio and TV programmes. To sack them for something that is no more than a prank taken too far would be an overreaction.
The winner in all of this is the woman right in the middle of it; Georgina Baillie, the 23 year-old burlesque dancer who has confirmed that she had a ‘brief’ fling with Brand. She’s now front page of most of the tabloids, which I’m sure will land her a lot more attention to her MySpace page (and her dance troupe).
At least it takes some of the attention of the downturn/recession/global finanical meltdown.