For the past few days I, along with vast numbers of people in the English speaking world have been utterly bemused, mesmerised perhaps, by the recent ‘goings on’ at the BBC involving the much loved 78 year old veteran Actor, Andrew Sachs… perhaps more popularly known and loved as the inept, bumbling waiter in the John Cleese classic “Fawlty Towers… his grand-daughter and two obscenely overpaid ‘radio presenters called Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross.
Basically Brand and Ross in a pre-recorded segment, arranged to call Andrew Sachs on the telephone for an interview… lord knows why but if the rest of the story is anything to go by the ‘interview’ promised to be less than pleasant. Anyway, for some reason Andrew was unavailable and his answerphone picked up the call.
Realising he wasn’t there, the pair then began to inform Andrew that Brand had had sex with his grand-daughter.. and the dialogue involving *both* presenters, deteriorated from that point.
If this was live you’d have to wonder why the plug wasn’t pulled at that point… however it transpired that not only was it pre-recorded, it was give the thumbs up for transmission by an editor who presumably thought humiliating a totally innocent person by abusing their grand-daughter was somehow amusing.
So far nearly 30,000 people have complained directly to the BBC to make it plain they did *not* find it at all amusing and have insisted that sanctions be taken against both men for their actions.
In the immediate aftermath Russell Brand has resigned his million dollar a year contract… and Jonathan Ross who is paid the ridiculous sum of forty million dollars a year, has been suspended and is in danger of being summarily dismissed.
What people are incensed over, apart from the obvious disrespect shown to Andrew is that these people are being paid out of their licence fee to abuse ordinary people. They feel these tow saw themselves above the rules of ordinary decent behaviour to the extent they could simply flout social mores and conventions with impunity. Thankfully public opinion is being felt in the corridors of the Beeb and people are taking action.
This sort of behaviour isn’t new of course. Back in the mid 1970’s Peter Cook had a segment in his live show during which he would randomly dial a telephone number. If he was ‘lucky’ – which was never while I watched – the phone would be answered by someone who was watching the show. What would have happened had he found someone I have no idea, but if the person wasn’t watching the show… or worse was in bed asleep (it went out very late for obvious reasons) then they got a tongue lashing from Cook… live on air… much to the ‘amusement’ of the audience, assuming those embarrassed titters *were* from people who were amused rather than just being polite. I, and several audiences, sat through two of these excruciatingly embarrassing performances in stony silence and… for all his brilliance… I never watched Peter Cook live again.
Hopefully neither Russell Brand nor Jonathan Ross will be heared or seen on air again.
Whatever happened to those brilliantly funny and satirical programmes like ‘That was the Week That Was”, or the surreal ‘Monty Python’, or the gentle truly ‘British’ humour of ‘Dads Army’. Just how and why has the BBC been reduced to foisting this appalling exhibition of deliberate cruelty on a paying public as ‘humour’.
Isn’t ‘humour’ supposed to be funny??