Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Brand and Ross timeline: How radio show prank call row unfolded

The suspension of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross came after politicians placed increasing pressure on the BBC to act. Below is a timeline of how events unfolded since the lewd calls were broadcast.

Saturday 18 October



  • Calls made by Brand and Ross to Andrew Sachs and messages left on his answerphone are aired in pre-recorded sections on Brand's BBC Radio 2 evening show between 9pm and 11pm. It includes Ross telling the Fawlty Towers star Brand had slept with the actor's granddaughter Georgina Baillie and Brand joking he might kill himself.


Saturday 25 October



  • As reporters prepare a story for the Mail on Sunday, Brand sings a light-hearted apology to Sachs on his radio show but says "it was quite funny" and replays some of the calls.


Sunday 26 October



  • Newspapers report the fallout from the crude phone calls.
  • Sachs's agent Meg Poole says the actor is "upset" by the incident. She says she has emailed and written to the BBC to formally complain about the calls.

Monday 27 October



  • The BBC apologises to Sachs for the "unacceptable and offensive" content of the calls. The corporation says it has launched a review.
  • Pressure group Mediawatch-UK calls for Brand and Ross to be taken off air while the BBC investigates.
  • The BBC reveals it has received more than 1,500 complaints. Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has also received complaints.
  • Sachs tells reporters he is angry but that the apology should be directed at his granddaughter.


Tuesday 28 October



  • Conservative MP for Monmouth David Davies calls for the pair to be sacked.
  • Former BBC deputy director general Will Wyatt says "someone should take some pain" for what happened.
  • John Whittingdale, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, stops short of calling for the DJs to be sacked but says an investigation should be carried out into editorial "failures".
  • Ofcom announces an investigation into the phone calls.
  • The BBC Trust asks for a report from BBC management on its investigations.
  • The BBC reveals complaints about Brand's show stands at 4,700.
  • A spokeswoman for Sachs says Ross sent flowers and a letter of apology to the actor.
  • Tory leader David Cameron adds his voice, calling for the BBC to be "transparent" about how the programme came to be broadcast.
  • A parliamentary motion condemning the phone calls is tabled by Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay and Tory MP Nigel Evans.
  • The BBC's director-general Mark Thompson comes under growing pressure from politicians to act.
  • Culture Secretary Andy Burnham welcomes the BBC Trust and Ofcom's inquiries.
  • At 5.30pm Prime Minister Gordon Brown condemns the pranks and describes Ross and Brand's phone calls as "inappropriate and unacceptable".
  • The BBC reveals that complaints topped the 10,000 mark by 6pm.
  • Sachs tells the BBC his granddaughter "feels very guilty" and that Ross personally delivered the letter and flowers to him.
  • At 10pm the Metropolitan Police confirms it has received complaints about the comments.


Wednesday 29 October



  • Ms Baillie, 23, calls for Ross and Brand to be sacked. In an interview with The Sun, the aspiring model admits she has slept with Brand but labels the presenters "cruel sickos" for the messages.
  • The parliamentary motion criticising the calls is signed by 13 MPs, with others indicating they will back it.
  • Ross was understood to be filming his weekly BBC TV show Friday Night With Jonathan Ross. Guests Sir David Attenborough, Disney star Miley Cyrus and comedian Frank Skinner were expected to attend.
  • At 11.30am the BBC announces it has suspended Ross and Brand. It also reveals the number of complaints has risen to 18,000. Describing the incident as a "gross lapse of taste", BBC Director-General Mark Thompson says: "I have decided that it is not appropriate for either Russell Brand or Jonathan Ross to continue broadcasting on the BBC until I have seen the full report of the actions of all concerned."
  • Brand's spokesman says the star is preparing to fly to the US to make films.
  • Tonight's recording of Friday Night With Jonathan Ross is cancelled, according to sources.


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