BBC presenter Jonathan Ross, recently included in Billboard’s “Maximum Exposure” issue focusing on the top platforms for music, has been suspended.
The presenter has been taken off air along with comedian Russell Brand over a phone prank the pair staged on Brand’s pre-recorded BBC Radio 2 show on Oct. 18. Brand has resigned and Ross’ suspension will proceed until an internal investigation is concluded.
More than 18,000 people have complained to the BBC over the stunt, during which Brand and Ross left messages on the answer phone of veteran actor Andrew Sachs, best known as Manuel in the 1970s TV comedy “Fawlty Towers.” The messages included comments about Brand’s relationship with Sachs’ granddaughter
“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 of the actions of all concerned,” said BBC director-general Mark Thompson in a statement prior to Brand’s resignation.
“This gross lapse of taste by the performers and the production team has angered licence payers. I am determined that we satisfy them that any lessons will be learnt and appropriate action taken.”
Thompson will report the findings of an investigation into the show to the BBC Trust’s editorial standards committee tomorrow (Oct. 30). The Trust will then decide what action to take.
Ross hosts a popular BBC One TV show “Friday Night With Jonathan Ross” featuring celebrity guests and musical performances. It scored ratings of 3.5 million on Oct. 3.
He also has a Radio 2 show, which airs on Saturday at 10am and averaged 3.04 million listeners in the second quarter of 2008. Ross’ two shows earned him a No. 10 placing in Billboard’s “Maximum Exposure: U.K” Top 10 (Sept. 27).
Ross and Brand have apologized. Media regulator Ofcom is conducting its own investigation.