Brand & Ross: there’s nothing more to see here, folks

by Stephen Tall on October 31, 2008

For the second night running, BBC2 Newsnight’s lead item was the fall-out from Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross’s mis-firing jokes against Andrew Sachs. For the second morning running, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme’s lead item was the fall-out from Russell Brand blah blah blah.

I know the Beeb feels the need to self-abase itself, and star interviewers are never happier than giving their bosses a hard time on flagship current affairs shows – but this is a ridiculously disproportionate over-the-top, over-hyped, over-reaction. So while Tory and Labour MPs work out how they can jump on the BBC-should-commit-mass-hara-kiri bandwagon I’m pleased to see the Lib Dems’ Don Foster adopt an entirely common sense tone:

Many people were offended by the antics of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross who have both been dealt with appropriately. But for this to lead to the loss of one of the BBC’s most talented producers is hugely disappointing. Lesley Douglas [Radio 2’s controller] has made an enormous contribution to British radio and we have still seen no evidence that she was responsible for the failings that led to the show being broadcast.

“This resignation seems to have more to do with satisfying the media feeding frenzy than in working out what went wrong and ensuring it doesn’t happen again. The BBC has the impossible task of trying to appeal to all parts of the British audience. We should all think long and hard about what will happen to many of the wonderfully innovate BBC programmes, which many of us take for granted, if producers are no longer prepared to take risks.”