Brand quits BBC over calls

RUSSELL BRAND last night resigned from his BBC Radio 2 show in the wake of the controversy over calls made to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs.

His abrupt departure comes as Jonathan Ross, who also took part in the prank, issued a public apology over his “juvenile and thoughtless” remarks.

In a message left on Mr Sachs’ voicemail, the pair claimed Brand had slept with the actor’s 23-year-old granddaughter.

The presenters, in the pre-recorded show — which was cleared to air despite Mr Sachs, 78, being upset by it — also joked the actor might kill himself.

Brand said in a statement that he took “complete responsibility” for the incident and that he got “caught up in the moment”.

Ross, who earns a reported €6 million a year, has not offered to step down but said in a statement: “It was a stupid error of judgement on my part, and I offer a full apology.

“I am deeply sorry and greatly regret the upset and distress that my juvenile and thoughtless remarks on the Brand show have caused.

“I have not issued a statement previously because it was my intention and desire to offer an apology to all those offended on my Friday night programme.”

The BBC has pulled the plug on this week’s recording of Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, as well as the Radio 2 shows.

Director general Mark Thompson announced the pair’s suspension yesterday morning, following a growing clamour for action, saying the broadcast was a “gross lapse of taste”.

The tally of complaints to the BBC about the broadcast soared to 18,000 and has sparked a chorus of disapproval from the British prime minister Gordon Brown down.

Despite the huge fallout, a police investigation looks remote as the Fawlty Towers actor has stated he is not planning to take the matter up with the police.

His granddaughter, Georgina Baillie, 23, had called for Ross and Brand, whom she admitted she slept with, to be sacked for their phone calls and branded them “cruel sickos”.

Mr Thompson said in a statement: “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... This gross lapse of taste has angered licence payers.”

Russell Brand’s statement

“WHEN on Saturday October 18 I made those remarks on Andrew Sach’s answerphone I didn’t think the repercussions would reach the proportion that they have, in fact I obviously didn’t think at all. I now acknowledge that it was a really, really stupid thing to do, particularly because Andrew Sachs is an actor and comic performer I particularly admire.

“I was being very silly and I got a bit caught up in the moment. It was not my intention to hurt Andrew Sachs or embarrass his granddaughter Georgina.

“I have apologised to Andrew Sachs and I believe he has graciously accepted my apology. I have not had the chance to apologise to Georgina yet because I’m a little bit embarrassed and I thought I might make it worse.

“I only do that radio show to make people laugh.

“Obviously it’s gone beyond the point where I do that and I’m making people unhappy and angry and sad. So I’d like to not do that radio show any more. I’d also like to say that I’ve loved the BBC...”


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