Pressure was mounting today for the BBC to take further action over offensive calls made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to veteran actor Andrew Sachs.
The corporation has already apologised to Fawlty Towers star Mr Sachs after the DJ pair left answerphone messages saying Brand had slept with his granddaughter, 23-year-old Georgina Baillie, an aspiring model.
The presenters also joked that the actor might kill himself as a result. Ross, 47, has since issued a personal apology, with Brand, 33, following suit.
The BBC has so far received more than 1,500 complaints, including phone calls and emails, and there have been several calls for the pair to taken off air or sacked.
Mediawatch-UK, the pressure group which campaigns for "decency and accountability" in the media, called for Brand and Ross to be removed from broadcasting while the BBC investigated the incident.
Director John Beyer said: "I think the BBC should look at the possibility of putting other presenters on air while it conducts this investigation to reassure the public it is taking the matter seriously."
Mr Beyer said he had received several calls from people who were angry about the incident.
"People strongly object to licence fee payers’ money being used to fund these sorts of immature pranks," he said.
Former shadow home secretary David Davies also called for the pair to be sacked.
"In no other organisation paid for by the taxpayer or otherwise, would you be able to get away with behaving like this," he told the Daily Mail.
Former BBC deputy director general Will Wyatt said "someone should take some pain" for what had happened.
He told the Daily Mirror: "It was completely inappropriate. It is like a couple of drunken teenagers in a phone box trying to rag one of their chums."
The BBC apologised yesterday and also sent a response personally to Sachs. His agent, Meg Poole, had emailed and written to the BBC to formally complain about the calls.
Sachs, who played waiter Manuel in Fawlty Towers, told reporters yesterday: "People ask me if I’m angry, well, yes, but not half as angry as Georgina. That’s where the apology should be directed."
A BBC spokeswoman said: "We recognise that some of the content broadcast was unacceptable and offensive.
"We are reviewing how this came about and are responding to Mr Sachs personally.
"We also apologise to listeners for any offence caused."
Ofcom said it had also received complaints. It will assess them against the Broadcasting Code, which sets out standards including fairness and privacy.
The watchdog does this in order to determine whether it should investigate further.
The pre-recorded calls were aired on Brand’s Radio 2 show.
The host and Ross, who presents a show on the same radio channel, began making calls after Sachs apparently did not answer his phone for a pre-arranged interview to promote a television show.
Ross left a message telling Sachs: "He f****** your granddaughter."
Brand denied this, but added: "Oh no, I have revealed I know her name."
After discussing how Sachs might hang himself as a result, the pair made a string of calls in which they ostensibly attempted to apologise for what was "just a joke", but continued to leave lewd messages.
At one point, Brand sang: "I said some things I didn’t of oughta, like I had sex with your granddaughter..."
John Whittingdale, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee, stopped short of calling for Brand and Ross to be sacked.
But he insisted an investigation was needed into editorial "failures", and the BBC should reassess the kind of programmes it produces in the wake of the controversy.
"This isn’t the first time," the Maldon and East Chelmsford
MP said. "Particularly in the case of Jonathan Ross, there have been a whole series of incidents where he has breached the rules and I think the BBC need to think about whether they wish to be in this market still.
"And if they do wish to continue to produce programmes of this kind they do need to put in place stronger controls, particularly for stars who command such huge amounts of licence fee payers’ money."
Transcript of Brand's prank call
Here is a condensed transcript of the stream of phone calls made to former Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs, by BBC presenters Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.
At times the presenters can be heard giggling and talking over the top of each other as Ross jokes at one point: "We can keep doing this for hours."
The calls were posted on the YouTube website.
Russell Brand (RB): "This is Andrew Sachs's answerphone. Right Jonathan, well this is unconventional..
Jonathan Ross (JR): "Don't worry I'll blurt something out"
RB: "Don't blurt something out, not on the answerphone Jonathan.
Andrew Sachs's answerphone: "Sorry I can't answer at the moment, but please call again or leave a message. Speak after the tone, thank you."
RB: "Hello Andrew Sachs this is Russell Brand. I am a great appreciator of your work over the decades. You're meant to be on my show now mate, I don't know why you're not answering the phone, it's a bit difficult - I'm here with Jonathan Ross."
JR: "Hello Andrew..."
RB: "That's Jonathan Ross speaking now. Anyway, we understand.. anyway.. we can still do the interview to his answerphone..."
(The two presenters exchange banter)
JR: "He f***** your granddaughter!" (laughter)... I'm sorry I apologise. Andrew I apologise... I got excited, what can I say. it just came out."
RB: "Andrew Sachs, I did not do nothing with Georgina - oh no I've revealed I know her name! Oh no it's a disaster.
"Abort, abort. Please watch that show. I am out of The Bill, starring Andrew Sachs, I'm out of The Bill... Put the phone down, put the phone down, code red code red. I'm sorry Mr Fawlty I'm sorry, they're a waste of space..."
JR: "... How could I carry that round in my head like a big brain blister all day? I had to pop it and let the pressure out...
"Like it's really bothered us though, he's the poor man sitting at home sobbing over his answer machine...
"If he's like most people of a certain age he's probably got a picture of his grandchildren when they're young right by the phone.
"So while he's listening to the messages he's looking at a picture of her about nine on a swing."
RB: "She was on a swing when I met her. Oh no!"
JR: "And probably enjoyed her."
RB: "Let's ring back Andrew Sachs... What if he answers this time? Oh no Jonathan please. I'll do anything."
(Andrew Sachs's answerphone message comes on for a second time.)
RB: Andrew this is Russell Brand. I'm so sorry about the last message. It was part of the radio show. It was a mistake."
JR: "It was just a joke. If there is any truth in that, I don't know. It was just a joke."
RB: "It was just a joke that we done. I didn't ask him to say it though..."
JR: "It might be true, but we didn't want to break it to you in such a harsh way."
RB: "Ok, look the truth is, Andrew I'm ringing you to ask if I can marry, that's right marry your granddaughter, Georgina the granddaughter."
JR: "And I'd like to be a page boy."
RB: He wants to be a page boy. We're going to have a Fawlty Towers-themed wedding."
JR: "No, no, you've spoiled it..."
RB: "No I'm sorry I'll do anything. I wore a condom. Put the phone down. Oh, what's going to happen?..."
JR: "You'll never become king rat in the Variety Club now Russell Brand."
RB: "Oh no that's over for me. I'm never going to be king rat in the Variety Club. Jonathan I think we've made the situation worse."
JR: "Who'd have thought two people like us could possibly have made the situation worse."
RB: "How could we with all our skills, our social skills, our talents our experiences."
JR: "Our intentions were pure."
RB: "You know the only way we can make this better don't you?"
JR: "Let's phone him again. Let's leave a nice message."
RB: "Listen, we've got to make it better. We'll phone Andrew Sachs back. We've got to stop upsetting Manuel. This time Jonathan I'm convinced we can make it better."
JR: "What should we not mention, the war?"
RB: "Don't mention the war, don't mention his granddaughter. Don't say: 'You only ever played Manuel'... Don't mention The Bill in a negative way. Yes! We'll just sing to him. I'll make up something as I go along."
JR: "I'll be Bing Crosby to your David Bowie."
RB: "I've always seen our relationship as a Christmas-themed hit."
(The answerphone message plays again).
JR: (as the message plays): "She was bent over the couch..."
RB (singing): "I'd like to apologise for these terrible attacks - Andrew Sachs.
"I'd like to show contrition to the max, Andrew Sachs.
"I'd like to create world peace, between the yellow, whites and blacks Andrew Sachs, Andrew Sachs.
"I said some things I didn't of oughta, like I had sex with your granddaughter.
"But it was consensual and she wasn't menstrual it was consensual lovely sex.
"It's full of respect. I sent her a text. I've asked her to marry me...
"Oh Andrew Sachs, will you marry Jonathan, it sounds like he wants to now."
JR: "This has made it worse, I feel it's made it worse, you've trivialised the whole terrible incident. It started fine and then you went on about nonsense."
RB: "You said you wanted to marry him..."
JR: "I wasn't really listening to you, I was concentrating on my back harmonies... There's only one way we could possibly make this better."
RB: "What can we do?"
JR: "Let's use up the rest of his tape, this time with a heartfelt and sincere apology... Pretend you're Gordon Brown and make a beautiful speech rescuing the country from the credit crunch and rescue him from the inner turmoil you've caused by saying that you jumped on a relative."
RB: "Yes, you're right Jonathan, you're right. Only by doing the exact thing that we've done three times already can we make the situation better."
JR: "If you learn one thing from history, it's do not repeat your mistakes."
RB: "Don't repeat them."
JR: "So let's do it right this time."
RB: "Thank God Jonathan."
JR: "Maybe this time... I want to do the song this time."
RB: "You're not doing the lyrics. You'll balls it up. And can't do backing it's not in my nature."
JR: "But you talked about his granddaughter's menstruation."
RB: "Look we've got a golden opportunity here, to make Andrew Sachs happy."
JR: "... we should go in a little bit more relaxed this time."
RB: "Right yeah that's true, let's not look at this as the last time we're going to call Andrew Sachs."
JR: "... The wonder of technology is such that we can keep doing this for hours."
RB: "And even after the show's finished Jonathan we can find out where Andrew Sachs lives, kick his front door in and scream apologies into his bottom... We can just keep on troubling Andrew Sachs... let's do it, right, ok.
"You pretend you're Andrew Sachs's answerphone."
JR: "Hello, Manuel is not in right now. Leave your message after the tone."
RB (as the phone rings again): "Alright Andrew Sachs's answerphone, I'm ever so sorry for what I said about Andrew Sachs."
JR: "Just say: 'Sorry'."
RB (laughing): "I'll kill you!"
JR: "Don't say you'll wear him as a hat, just say: 'Sorry'."