I have been trying, very hard (honest) NOT to write about the recent Ross/Brand BBC2 Radio furore but i just can’t help it. I didn’t hear their programme but what a lot of complaints they generated (18,000+). From Biggleswade to Nottingham there have been calls to suspend the pair of unruly presenters. It doesn’t really matter whether Grandfather and veteran comedy actor Andrew Sachs did or didn’t hear the alleged “rude, imflamatory, insulting, degrading” etc., etc. messages on his ansa phone as suggested on breakfast radio this morning, it wasn’t particularly clever for Ross the older, wiser more experienced professional to encourage this typical Brand ‘schoolboy behaviour’ thereby endorsing such “negative social behaviour ” (Jeremy Hunt, Conservative Shadow Culture Secretary). It is very interesting that radio executives decided to let the gimmick be aired some days later. Did they think it was acceptable entertainment to breach someones privacy in such a way or did they expect it to upset people and was it a way of letting Ross know that he’s getting a bit above himself these days?
It seems you can’t pick up a paper or turn the radio on for presenters and journalists debating the point – how did such a tasteless stunt get to be aired on the publicly funded mainstream radio channel BBC2 ? Is it tastless or was it funny? I don’t doubt some people found it funny but for my money Ross is decidedly off-form these days and has resorted to very low humour indeed. I imagine that he partly justifies his reputed 6million fee from the BBC by being something of an icon and commanding a considerable amount of followers/fans. I used to like him and he used to make me laugh but nowadays if I even tune in, I tend to switch off before the end of his regular TV slot “Friday Night Live with…”. Who’s changed, him or me? I find there’s very little insight to his interviews and far too much ego, he consistently leers at his female guests and reminds me far less of a professional presenter and more of a lecherous old man. I have started to find that behaviour offensive. Perhaps he needs extra support from his employers, some counselling or re-training, maybe he should have coaching sessions from Michael Parkinson?
Has the BBC lost sight of it’s audience and what they want? Does it really know who’s out there listening and watching? Do those tick box audience response forms really allow for peoples tastes and preferences to show through or or we just too adept as a society at ticking boxes for the sake of ticking boxes?
If we want to start seeing some accountability from our public services perhaps we should start turning off, switching over and perhaps we should complain more. In times of uncertainty, impending gloom and bust, it might be better if we start saying no rather than letting things pass, being pro-active not passive. So well done all those people who took the time and energy to complain – finally you’re getting your money’s worth from your licence fee.
I heard someone suggest on the radio this morning that they doubted whether half the people who complained had actually heard the programme – so? The point is about the quality of provision from our Public Broadcasters – harrassing people via their answerphone certainly isn’t new but all parties have to accept the premise and be happy for it to be broadcast, otherwise it’s a step away from deliberate bullying and cruelty and yes, it is of public concern that this should be deemed acceptable behaviour. Re-assure us BBC that you know who we are and what we want (what we really, really want).