Que?

As I've made evident here previously, I'm no fan of Russell Brand. As for Jonathan Ross, I generally enjoy his radio show and occasionally watch Film 2008, though he doesn't always let his more interesting guests speak, and I do get tired of his cheeky chappy persona after a while. The news that they combined on Brand's BBC Radio 2 show to call Andrew Sachs and leave a series of offensive messages on his answerphone is not especially surprising. Neither is the Daily Mail-driven fury that has occurred as a consequence. Two things do puzzle me though.

1. ITN's News At Ten, understandably revelling in its main rival's misery, ran the story as its main feature on both Monday and Tuesday night. However, they rather undermined their pious condemnation by selecting as one of their talking heads that figure of decency and decorum...Kelvin Mackenzie. This is the former editor of the Sun, who was renowned for fabricating stories, some of them both disgusting and offensive. Rather like asking Pol Pot to condemn the actions of Fred West.

2. The initial broadcast of the show generated 2 or 3 complaints. Then the Daily Mail screamed out its hatred of these sicko lefties:

"The pair, who are close friends, are notorious for their use of swear words and have courted controversy throughout their careers. In 2006 Ross caused a storm by asking Conservative leader David Cameron if he had ever had teenage sexual fantasies about former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ‘in stockings’ and referring to a lewd act.

Ross also appeared to breach the terms of his lucrative BBC contract by indicating his support for Labour. He said: ‘I like him [Gordon Brown]. If I could say where I’m going to vote, I’d vote for them. But I can’t say where I’m voting because I’m forbidden by my BBC contract.’"

Suddenly, the complaints flooded in. On Monday it was 1500. Tuesday it had grown to 10,000. Wednesday it was 18,000. By Wednesday night it was apparently closer to 30,000. So a couple of people who actually heard the show were offended, no-one else complained, until tens of thousands of Mail readers were offended when they heard about the show. What kind of cloth-brained simpletons behave like this? The right to complain is necessary - I seem to be writing letters to major transport organizations quite regularly - but to complain about something simply because the Daily Mail encourages you to do so is moronic.

Andrew Sachs appears to be the only person capable of adding a sense of proportion. Entirely reasonably, he was upset by the calls, but has made it clear that he'd rather just move on and forget all about it. Sadly our beloved media are desperate not to do so.

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