Wednesday, 29 October 2008
Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross suspended
I am one of the few people I know who finds Russell Brand funny. Obviously he must have loads of fans out there but I don't know many of them. Except, that is, for me. The man is so silly I can't help but laugh. And he's completely outrageous - it's not that he says all the things I would love to have the courage to say but don't, more that he says all the things I wouldn't even DREAM of saying.
There is, however, a limit. And last week he reached it. Today he was suspended by the BBC along with Jonathan Ross for the messages they left (on air) on the answering machine of actor Andrew Sachs. Quite right but let's not congratulate the BBC because they should have acted sooner. Their tardy actions would suggest they're not condemning what the two presenters did, just reacting to the furore which is lasting longer than they'd expected. And why on earth did they broadcast it in the first place? That has angered me almost as much as the phone calls.
I'm not bothered about the girl (now that I see she's selling her story to the Sun) although it's not very gallant to spill the beans when you've slept with someone. My main concern is for Andrew Sachs. Forget him being a famous actor, forget that he played the much loved character of Manuel in the sitcom Fawlty Towers. This is a 78 year old grandfather who is highly unlikely to share the cruder sense of humour someone of my generation might appreciate. But worse, the crude "joke" was about his grand-daughter.
Think for a moment about a female child in your family (she may be 23 but she will always be a child to him, let's face it) and imagine someone in later years leaving that kind of information in that kind of dismissive crude language about that little girl on your answering machine. How upset would you be? Now imagine you're someone who doesn't use that kind of language and instinctively feels offended by it. And now think how you'd feel if the world knew about it because it had gone out on a radio station and then been reported in every newspaper in the country!
It's not about being funny, not about how open minded we all are, it's about causing deep hurt and embarrassment to someone for no reason other than to get a cheap laugh. I'm glad they've both written to apologise, I'm glad they both seem to be genuinely sorry and I have no desire to see either of them punished unduly for it. But I really hope both of them will have a think about the balance between being funny and outspoken, and being downright cruel.