Tuesday, 28 October 2008

BBC demonstrates its worst side

There is quite a furore, rightly, at the moment about telephone calls left on a mobile and subsequently broadcast live on the BBC's Radio 2 network. This had happened apparently on the Russell Brand Show - there had been an expectation that actor Andrew Sachs (best known as hapless waiter Manuel in Fawlty Towers but also someone who has narrated various documentary programmes) would appear on the programme but for whatever reason he wasn't able to come. So Mr Brand, accompanied in the studio by Jonathan Ross, decided to call Andrew on his mobile. They were unable to speak to the actor so left messages on his voicemail, in fact they did this four times. Brant made lewd comments about Andrew's granddaughter during the course of these telephone calls and the excitable Ross used the 'F' word apparently. This was an absolute disgrace in itself but what made things even worse was the fact that all of this was pre-recorded and the BBC saw no problem in broadcasting it.

Reading this you might think that I am a prude: I'm not. I confess that under stress I have used the 'F' word, I've known those with an obviously limited vocabulary use this word in every other sentence but just accept that as the way they are - no problem. If people want to talk to each other in a highly sexual manner and they are clearly not offending others then again no problem. But I very strongly object to these two highly paid twerps (and the BBC are using your money and my money remember) using this sort of language and thinking it smart or funny - it's not. And as for the Beeb letting this go out live, well Lord Reith must be turning in his grave right now. The way I understand it with the BBC, when it comes to making an editorial judgement, if there is doubt then the matter is referred up the line. Was this done in this instance?

So what to do now. Via the internet I have heard Brand make a most insincere apology about the incident, the most insincere apology that I can remember anyone uttering. I believe that Ross has also made an apology of sorts to Andrew Sachs. This is what I would like to see:
  • Brand and Ross to each make a donation of at least £100,000 to a charity of Mr Sachs's choice (they can easily afford it) as a condition for their continuing to get employment with the BBC
  • The person who is found to have decided that this programme should go out on air in the form that it did should be sacked.
Will this happen? Better not to hold your breath. Today's general attitude that anything goes anywhere is just not acceptable.

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