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Brand and Ross prank call storm 'driven by salary envy'

The storm over lewd phone calls by Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross may be partly driven by "salary envy and shadenfreude", a senior BBC executive said today.

Radio 1 Newsbeat editor Rod McKenzie highlighted "synthetic" anger over the incident, insisting the corporation was being attacked by its "usual critics".

The intervention, on the BBC's Editors blog, comes despite Director General Mark Thompson issuing a personal apology for the calls and suspending the high-profile presenters.

Gordon Brown and David Cameron have also joined condemnation of the explicit answerphone messages left for Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs.

However, Mr McKenzie insisted the reaction from younger BBC audiences had been broadly supportive of Ross and Brand.

The response from Newsbeat listeners had initially been "two to one" in their favour, and had now swelled to "six to one", he added.

Some had been "amazed" that the Prime Minister chose to comment amid the global financial crisis, according to Mr McKenzie.

"There's anger: some genuine, some of it synthetic. Some of it comes from the BBC's usual critics," he wrote.

"For media folk profile and salary-envy and schadenfreude may play a part in all this.

"But how many heard the original transmission and how many are responding to the newspapers' quotes or others' arguments?

"I'm not here to defend or attack anyone - but there is an alternative view we are seeing strongly expressed by our young audience which is certainly worth wider consideration."

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