Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dear Daily Mail, my wife and I were appalled ... etc.

I like Jonathan Ross. Always have done. I've liked him since the early days on the infant Channel 4 right up to and including his current Friday night chat show. I don't mind Russell Brand. He can be extraordinarily funny ... although he starts to grate on me after about ten minutes and after 20 I just want to smother him with a thick, damp, heavy pillow. I wanted to keep an open mind about their recent podcast debacle - if only because the people ranting the most about it were Daily Mail readers (here's the full story if you missed it, and also for my overseas readers).

So I read a few versions of events and then listened to the podcast. And yes, I do agree that Andrew Sachs was misused and has every right to feel aggrieved and insulted. Apologies are due; very public and meaningful apologies. Ross should know better and is clever enough that he doesn't need to sink to these kinds of depths. Brand, meanwhile, probably doesn't know any better but should have tighter reins placed upon him for that very reason. The whole episode was ill-advised, pointless, stupid, childish and won't do their careers any favours. But let's keep a sense of perspective here, eh? They didn't stab anyone or cause any long-term psychological damage. If you believe the rabid foamings of the Mail, the two of them have knocked down the last two remaining pillars of Western civilisation. And it wasn't as if the stunt involved some virginal 12 year old schoolgirl either (see here). Nor was it violently 'obscene' as some commentators claim (have they never watched a Gordon Ramsay show? The man uses the word 'fuck' as punctuation!) The most balanced report of events I've seen was on my good chum John Soanes' blog here. I've shamelessly blogwhored* it to my own humble blog:

Numbers Which May Or May Not Be Relevant To The Current Fuss About Brand And Ross's Phone Messages To Andrew Sachs

  • The age of Mr Sachs (78)
  • Number of complaints received before press coverage (2)
  • Number of complaints received after the Daily Mail covered the story (4700)
  • Number of days which it took for the Mail to cover the story (8)
  • Number of semi-dressed pictures of Andrew Sachs's granddaughter in the Daily Mail coverage of the story (5)
  • The salaries of Ross and Brand (seven figures and six figures respectively)
  • Number of answerphone messages left (4)
  • Number of people involved who left Germany in 1938 because of Nazi persecution of Jews (1)
  • Number of newspapers involved who supported the Blackshirts and Nazis between 1934 and 1939 (1)
  • Number of comedians whose apologies referred to Daily Mail support for Nazis (1)
  • Number of uses of phrase 'full transcript' to describe an edited version of the messages (1)
  • Number of times I (John) laughed whilst listening to the podcast, prior to press coverage (>1)
  • Probability as a percentage that there are more than two possible opinions to hold on this matter (>50)
I understand that Ofcom has now been asked to investigate the matter. What's to investigate? You either believe they did wrong and punish them accordingly or we all just get on with our lives. It's not that big a deal. There are more important things to worry about than two silly boys who've made fools of themselves at the expense of a 78 year old man and, as the result, have created a blaze of publicity about themselves.

Oh, did I mention that they both have new books in the shops?

*the term 'shamelessly blogwhored' was shamelessly blogwhored from Pharyngula.


punk in writing said...

I've just finished Russell Brands "My Booky Wook". I found about two chapters of it to be funny, the rest is a lot of ramblings about the hard knock life of a junkie.

And I've heard that story a hundred times before, often told way better.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Punky - I could not have reviewed it better myself. My sentiments exactly. It didn't grab me particularly and I couldn't feel a shred of sympathy for him.

Nice new photo BTW - at last we see what you look like! Yay!

Planet Me said...

I was very tempted to write something about it, but I appear to have been beaten to the punch by a superior mind...

punk in writing said...

Stevyn - I did the photo in sepia to compliment my new jacket which is fashioned after the jackets worn by female pilots during WW2.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Planet Me - Indeed it was - all credit to the inimitable Mr Soanes whose commentary far outstripped mine.

Punky - And very dashing you look too. And dangerous. Grrr.

Persephone said...

Oh for Pete's sake. Sounds like JR and RB thought they were on The Graham Norton Show. (Between BBCCanada and YouTube, we can see a fair bit of British TV here, the good and bad.) Actually this reminds me of the time John Barrowman and Andrew Lloyd Webber were on Jonathan Ross's television programme and, like JR and RB, were behaving with all the wit and finesse of 14-year-olds. Their interview followed that of a female guest, and they made a crack about "no ho like an old ho" and she charged out the holding area, forced the sliding doors open and told them what she thought of them. And I said, "You go, girl." They were being twits. Likewise, you don't phone up anyone and tell them you're bonking a member of their family. It's not witty, and virginal school girl or not; it's her grandad, for cripe's sake. I think she has a right to feel cross too, no matter what's on her web site. No, don't fire them, just embarrass the heck out of them, if possible. (Which I doubt.)

Stevyn Colgan said...

Persephone - All agreed 100%. It's a storm in a teacup but, good crikey blimey, hasn't it notched up some column inches!

Janet said...


I just posted my piece on this before reading yours. I think the two of them used horrific judgement - but even worse is that a pre-recorded show passed inspection of a producer(s)/editor(s) at the BBC before being aired!

I too am a big fan of Jonathan Ross, but we all know he can cross the line from time to time.

Anyway, I've said my piece, too. I guess I should now go read John Soanes' take on the matter.


Stevyn Colgan said...

Janet - well, they've been suspended. Serves the silly sods right.

Spud said...

this is so funny. My biggest laugh was reading the mail on Tuesday ( on a BA flight - I never paid for it!)

They mentioned how "the burlesque performer and stripper with dance group, the satanic sluts, was horrified and ashamed"

Someones attempt at a higher profile is working out just fine.

perspective perspective perspective.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Spud - Perspective indeed. 2 complaints. That's how many there were before the Press got involved. TWO COMPLAINTS! It's like some kind of collective madness. Did all of these thousands of subsequent complainers actually hear the broadcast? Of course not.

It reminds me of when Diana died. Everyone wanted to get involved. There was almost a kind of madness swept through the country. Hell, I met the lady twice and I thought it was a sad, sad shame. But floods of tears? Throwing flowers at cars? It was like some kind of hysteria. And it feels like that now.

doctawho42 said...

I like them both, although Brand in small doses, as you said, helps. I listen to the Brand podcast every week, and enjoy it immensely, last week's was just as "bad" as usual, only they conversed with the real world in this one, instead of the usual, mid 20's, 30's popstar.
I'm a bit distressed at Brand's sacking, he's a nice bloke, wherever he is, underneath all that hair and veneer and fake accent. All this probably won't put a dent in the Wossmobile, however. Mores the shame, cause I think the UK has probably had enough of him for now.
Meh, over reaction. It reached Australia for god's sake.

Stevyn Colgan said...

Docta ... or should I call you Who42? That's snappier.

Yes, it's been a very odd week. I now get a sense of what the McCarthy witch hunts were like in the USA ... and the real witch hunts back in the 17th and 18th centuries. A kind of mass mysteria went through the British public like the Herpes virus. Absolute madness. At the end of it all what do we have? (a) A silly prank that got out of hand and which, I honestly believe, had no malice attached, (b) A press campaign of staggering proportions that blew a couple of complaints up into tens of thousands, and (c) Two popular media figures who will undoubtedly never be as funny or entertaining as before. And as the aftershocks travel through the BBC and other TV and Radio companies, the fallout will be less edgy comedy and tamer presenters.

You reap what you sow, people of the UK. You reap what you sow.

doctawho42 said...

But then tame comedy will give rise to new, anarchic comedy, The Young Ones all over again. Oh, and Who42 is cool.