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crush the beeb! - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2008-10-29 21:53
Subject: crush the beeb!
Security: Public
Location:home
Mood:annoyedannoyed
Music:news 24
For those of you on the other side of the village pond, this one may require a dramatis personae:
Russell Brand - risque stand-up comic, television personality and Radio Two presenter.
Jonathan Ross - naughty/near-the-knuckle television personality and chat-show host.
Andrew Sachs - actor most famous for his portrayal of Manuel in Fawlty Towers.
Georgina Baillie - Andrew Sachs's 23-year-old grand-daughter.
The Daily Mail, an alleged newspaper.


The scene: A little less than a fortnight ago, Russell Brand is recording his Radio Two programme, which is to be broadcast on Saturday. In the studio with him is Jonathan Ross, who I understand was pushing his new book.
As part of the show, Brand is to do a phone interview with Andrew Sachs, but for some reason Andrew Sachs isn't at home and all they get is the answering machine. So they decide to interview the answering machine, which quickly degenerates into some extremely smutty banter about Brand having slept with Georgina Baillie, after which things get somewhat out of control.
The show goes out on Saturday night. It's my understanding that there are two complaints.

Eight days later, the Mail On Sunday makes it front-page news. The Mail loves to present itself as the guardian of the morals of Middle England, and if they can combine that with giving the BBC a good kicking it's a well-nigh perfect story as far as they're concerned. Other papers pick the story up, then the broadcast media, then it all goes like this.

As I sit writing this, there have been 27,000 complaints about the broadcast, Ross and Brand have been suspended pending an inquiry, Brand has resigned from the BBC, and there is almost as much comment, speculation and column-inchage in the papers as there was about the financial crisis (last week's story) and more than there is about the US Presidential elections (next week's story.)

Now then. *rolls up sleeves* It seems to me that there are more things going on here than simple outrage about two overgrown schoolboys being offensive.
Firstly, as I said, I understand the show only received two complaints when it was broadcast. The rest of the complaints have come in since the print media started whipping the story up. At a guess, I'd say some of those were from people who heard the show and were upset by what they heard but decided not to complain - and then, when they realised others were complaining, changed their minds.
Other complaints, I'd guess, came from people who just hate the BBC because it doesn't do what they want it to do; they didn't hear the show, but now they've read about it they realise it's just another example of what's wrong with the BBC and it needs to be complained about.
Still more complaints, I'd guess, came from people who hate Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand and resent the large salaries they earn. It's rare to see an article - even before all this kicked off - without it mentioning Ross's BBC salary. Which is large beyond even my dreams of avarice.

Over the past three days I've watched a kind of collective hysteria afflict the media. I don't know why this has happened - I had thought they'd got the BBC out of their systems after the last comprehensive kicking they gave it. Both Gordon Brown and David Cameron have commented on it, as has pretty much the entire stable of MP rentaquotes from all shades of political opinion. I don't believe anyone has yet asked the Reverend Ian Paisley his opinion, but it's only a matter of time. One imbecile MP - whose name I didn't catch and in which I'm not interested - demanded that the Director-General of the BBC resign over this. This from a member of a political class whose leaders cling onto power no matter how corrupt and venal their subordinates are.

I can only think that the events of the past few weeks have served to magnify this thing. The economies of the world have looked into the abyss, banks have collapsed, people have seen the value of their homes slump, people have lost their jobs. And here are these overgrown millionaire schoolboys, working for this snooty liberal elitist organisation, making disgusting comments about a fondly-regarded actor and rather sweet man. People have been looking for someone to vent their anger on - not to hate, the way they hate Gordon and Alastair and Bush and the big banks, but to do something tangible to someone wealthy.

Ask yourselves: if a poorly-paid and obscure presenter on Channel Five had done this, would we be having this conversation?
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2008-10-29 23:19 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

Yeah, but their behaviour actually was pretty horrific and offensive and disgusting, wasn't it? When I first read the transcript my immediate thought was that both of them ought to be fired on the spot.

I've long thought Ross a narcissistic wanker, so to that extent I fit in with your hypothesis. However, although the name rang the faintest of bells when I first read the story, I really have no clue who Russell Brand is -- so far as I'm concerned he could be that "poorly paid and obscure presenter on Channel Five".

To be honest, I can't understand why the Beeb is broadcasting this kind of crap anyway. Why doesn't it stick to what it's good at and what it serves a useful purpose doing?
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-10-29 23:36 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It was horrific and disgusting, and some form of censure was certainly in order. And I'd say your views on Ross and the BBC would chime with a number of those who didn't hear the show but rang in to complain after the media gave them tacit permission.
But. My thesis is that the whole firestorm has been driven by print media who still despise the BBC and want to see it destroyed. There's a huge resentment in the conservative media over the licence fee and what the BBC does with it. If the Beeb was running Peter Hitchens and Richard Littlejohn twenty-four hours a day, the Mail would have no complaint.
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2008-10-30 00:34 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

"If the Beeb was running Peter Hitchens and Richard Littlejohn twenty-four hours a day, the Mail would have no complaint."

I've not seen the Mail coverage, of course (and wouldn't have even if still living in the UK!), so can't comment on it.

Not sure who Peter Hitchens and Richard Littlejohn are. Is PH a relative of that pop-eyed bandwaggoning moron Christopher? Littlejohn's name rings a bell: am I right in remembering he's an ignorant near-fascist yob?
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-10-31 23:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Indeed. Peter Hitchens is the brother of the pop-eyed bandwaggoning moron Christopher Hitchens. Except he's a pop-eyed bandwaggoning right-wing moron.
And you present us with an unerring pencil-sketch of Littlejohn, whose page in today's Mail included this. A paragraph near the end is instructive: `This has been a stunning victory for common decency over the self-appointed, self-obsessed, metropolitan narcissists who control so much of our public life.'
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2008-10-31 23:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

"Except he's a pop-eyed bandwaggoning right-wing moron."

Sorry, what's the "except" for? That seems to describe both of them.

"an unerring pencil-sketch of Littlejohn"

Oh, gawd, yes: I see. Trouble is, I actually agree with a few of his earlier points . . . but then he starts to go fruitbat. Salary aside, I suppose it must be a difficult choice: whether to be a Mail columnist or whether to be a urinal.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-11-01 00:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think Christopher would describe himself as a libertarian, although to be honest with you I can't make head nor tail of what he believes himself to be. Peter's a lot easier - he's just right-wing. Apparently the brothers came to blows some years ago over their political differences, and didn't speak to each other for a very long time. And the world held its breath until they kissed and made up. It really did.
The tragedy of Littlejohn is that he actually writes rather well - he gets his point across effectively. Unfortunately, he hates anyone who is not Littlejohn and does not think as Littlejohn does. The BBC is an affront to him because he has to pay £138 a year for a licence and then all these liberal lefty university-educated ponces put on programmes he doesn't want to watch - programmes about understanding Moslems and asylum seekers and gays, stuff like that. How dare they? How dare they be paid lots of money to look down their noses at him and make programmes that cause his blood pressure to spike?
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Kat: Stressed
User: artykat
Date: 2008-10-29 23:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Stressed
Yeah! What HE said!!
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-10-29 23:41 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In breaking news, I just saw the front page of tomorrow's Sun, to whom Georgina Baillie has sold her story - BRAND SAID `QUE?' IN BED!
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2008-10-30 17:14 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Umm, you have noticed that the BBC's job is to do what the gvt tells it to, suck up to middle england, and make lots of money by being very popular with anyone with money, such as teenagers/ the youth segment of society.

Actual public interest and investigation and telling the truth kind of come last.
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2008-10-30 17:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

"Actual public interest and investigation and telling the truth kind of come last."

Well, it's been a decade since I left the UK, so I suppose things have changed . . . although not on the BBC World Service, thank gawd, where stalwarts like Karen Giannoni and Alasdair Yates and Martine Croxall and the incredible Stephen Sackur keep the flag flying high!
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Altariel
User: altariel
Date: 2008-10-29 23:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, it's all so ludicrous. An apology (abject) was in order, not a witchhunt.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-10-31 23:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Absolutely.
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User: sarcobatus
Date: 2008-10-30 00:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Indignant
I feel sorry for Andrew Sachs. Ross and Brand behaved like low-life scum -- and this is coming from a woman who enjoys smutty humor. That's how really deplorable Ross and Brand behaved. They offended even me.
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2008-10-30 01:24 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)

"Ross and Brand behaved like low-life scum"

Precisely.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-11-01 00:00 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Indeed they did, but I agree with altariel that an apology was in order, followed perhaps by censure of the kind that Jonathan Ross has found inposed on him.
But, again, my point is that this is being used as a jump-off for another attack on the BBC by people who despise it. Okay, the BBC is complicit in this - although not as complicit as the papers might have you believe; Brand's show was produced by his own company, not the BBC, and the producer was employed by him, not the BBC. Basically, as I understand it, it was a freelance job, and Brand's only point of contact was the BBC's complicance officer, who passed the show - but there are larger stakes on offer here. The head of Radio Two, Lesley Douglas, the person in charge of the channel on which the show aired, resigned (although again you'll find the truth being fuzzed - the official reason for her resignation, put about by the BBC, is that she left because she took responsiblility for the whole thing, but the day before she went I heard she was threatening to resign if any of her staff were made scapegoats. What's the truth? I don't know) and commentators on all sides of the row have been saying it's a shame and that she worked miracles on Radio Two. The same people have been calling for the resignation of the Director-General.
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mylefteye
User: mylefteye
Date: 2008-10-30 10:53 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I didn't hear the radio show and only read about the debacle on the BBC news feed.

I'm not sure this is a witch hunt. For me it's all about saying enough is enough. Comedians always have to push the boundaries, but what Ross and Brand did went way beyond that and, to me personally, wasn't particularly funny, just insulting.

On the other hand, it has crossed my mind that if they weren't on the BBC payroll -- and thus paid by the license payer -- there wouldn't have been anywhere near as much media coverage. But that's life. The bigger they are, the bigger the target they make.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-11-01 00:07 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You want a witch hunt? They're going after Mock now, for a joke which aired on a repeat of the show. A repeat (I think) of a show from the last series-but-one. Which was first shown unremarked.
The theory I heard is that, sensing they have the Beeb on the run, the Mail is going to start going after other `edgy' comedy too. Or indeed any other comedy it judges to be in need of readjustment.
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rou_killingtime
User: rou_killingtime
Date: 2008-11-01 01:18 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
They'd better not threaten my beloved Mighty Boosh!

Talk about a storm in a teacup though. Must have been a slow news week.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-11-01 01:32 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think the Boosh is safe. It's just beyond the understanding of Mail readers.
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rou_killingtime
User: rou_killingtime
Date: 2008-11-01 01:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I personally think that the fact they are a very vocal minority, rather than representative of the majority (as they seem to believe), is beyond them too.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-11-01 23:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Minority they may be, but they have power. They brought down two of the highest-paid and most highly-valued of the BBC's talents this week, and caused the resignation of an enormously-gifted executive. Now they know they can do that, they'll want to do it again, and again, and again, until they get what they want.
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mylefteye
User: mylefteye
Date: 2008-11-01 08:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
*sighs* Oh good grief. See, I saw the 30,000 complaints against Ross and Brand more as a show of support for Sachs and his granddaughter than any sort of righteous indignation against the two comedians. They overstepped the mark and deserved to have their wrists slapped. But this...I see what you mean about The Mail now. Where will it all end. Pop royalty being protected against the scathing wit of Buzzcocks perhaps? Footballers weeping about a hurtful remark Alan Hansen made on MotD?
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2008-11-01 23:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I'd guess that a percentage of the complaints were from people showing support for Sachs and his granddaughter, although I suspect that, after her residency in the Sun this week, some of the sympathy for Georgina may be evaporating.
It was inevitable that the Mail would be looking for other targets in order to keep the story running; it was unfortunate the repeat of Mock ran this week. They'll be keeping an eye on Buzzcocks, too.
What makes me smile, wryly, is that the filthiest programme on the BBC ran for years with nobody complaining. My jaw used to drop when I heard some of the things Humphrey Lyttleton came out with on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.
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