BBC Ross and Brand Radio Prank Uproar Escalates

The fallout over BBC radio hosts Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand‘s controversial radio prank call to former Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs has been remarkably swift and unbelievably epic.

The scandal, alternately known as “Manuelgate” or “Sachsgate“, has left behind a trail of firings, fury, and financial destruction.

Russell Brand resigned, Jonathan Ross was suspended, Sachs’ granddaughter claimed Brand was a disappointment in bed, and the head of BBC Radio 2 resigned in a matter of days.

Then more than 37,500 people complained to the BBC, of whom about 0.001% seem to have actually heard the broadcast.

Then figures began flying over allegations that Ross’ suspension could cost the BBC more than £500,000.

Then Ross quit as host of the 2008 British Comedy Awards, while Brand packed his bags and headed for Hollywood.

Oh, and during all of this, supporters of Brand and Ross protested outside the BBC on Thursday, recruited 15,000 people to their Facebook support group and began planning an additional protest outside the Daily Mail’s London office, scheduled for Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Tories have called for “a full Commons debate on the BBC’s handling of the row“, while the BBC has remained incredibly silent on the issue, pending an internal investigation into the incident.

The BBC has refused to clarify the situation until it has completed its internal investigation into the incident. The corporation is due to report its findings to the BBC Trust by 20 November.

Crazy, isn’t it?

If you need a more visual representation of all of these events, check out The Guardian’s helpful Sachsgate Timeline.

But keep in mind that not everyone agrees this “scandal” is worthy of such a melodramatic, international uproar. Many have spoken up to say that the entire incident has been “blown out of all proportion”. 

The headlines about the BBC this week have been all about Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, and those prank phone calls.

Google News has almost 6,000 news articles on the story.

So far the outcry has resulted in the resignations of Brand and Radio 2 boss Lesley Douglas, and a three month suspension for Ross.

Much of the media coverage has focused of the 18,000 complaints (and counting) about the ill-advised prank.

Less reported is the reaction from BBC Radio One’s online forum which suggests that many young people take this less seriously. Comments on the BBC News website also suggest opinion is far more divided than might appear from the media coverage.

The BBC itself has noted that “there is an alternative view we are seeing strongly expressed by our young audience which is certainly worth wider consideration.”

Among the comments from these younger listeners; “Everybody needs to calm down”; “It was funny, a joke. People are so boring”; “Leave Russell alone”; “Hey, they are comedians – it’s their job”; and “It’s been blown out of all proportion.”

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