Russell Brand breached broadcasting rules by airing sexual references on his radio show when children were likely to be listening, watchdog Ofcom has ruled.
The star, 42, returned to a live slot between 11am and 1pm on Radio X in April, nine years after he resigned from his Radio 2 show over a prank played on Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs.
But the Sunday May 28 broadcast, in which he asked an Elvis tribute act over the phone: “Have you ever had sex as Elvis?” was pre-recorded.
A spokesman for broadcasting regulator Ofcom said: “We investigated this Sunday morning show, and found the content included sexual references that were unsuitable for a time when children were likely to be listening.”
In 2009, Ofcom fined the BBC £150,000 over the “Sachsgate” row, describing the Radio 2 broadcast of messages left by Jonathan Ross and Brand on actor Sachs’s voicemail as “gratuitously offensive, humiliating and demeaning”.
In his new, Radio X show, Brand had asked “Have you ever had sex as Elvis?….You ‘ave ain’t yer? I could tell from the ‘Ooo. Ooooo!’”
His guest replied: “I’ve done it without the jump suit, but I have kept the cape on.”
And he told Brand: “The only difficulty with that (the jump suit) is they’re studded, you see, and they get very spiky and so they can cut you in places that you wouldn’t imagine… And if you’re on top of somebody…”
Brand exclaimed: “You’re a bit of a brutal lover there!” to which his guest joked: “Well, yes, I am, especially when I’m covered in rhinestones!”, to which Brand replied: “Phwoar, that’s the way to do it!”
Later in the programme, Brand’s co-host Matt Morgan joked: “You showed yourself up, as you always do.”
Brand asked: “How? What did I do wrong?”
Morgan replied: “Sexualising everything: ‘Have you ever had sex as Elvis?’”
The programme’s resident poet Mr Gee went further, by saying: “Do you remember that documentary where … I think Elvis came out of a hotel and he said he’d just met a prostitute and he just goes to his friend, he just goes: ‘You know that prostitute you showed me? She gives tremendous head, tremendous head?’
Brand replied: “Yes, I do remember that. I remember thinking it was insensitive of Elvis to have said it!”
Entertainment group Global, which owns Radio X, said that the comments were a “fleeting moment” and that the station targeted an “alternative” audience.
But it acknowledged that “some of the further comments … strayed into more mature themes” and the ruling would be “taken on board for future shows”.
Ofcom said that parents were “unlikely to have expected this material at this time” and that “given the programme was pre-recorded … the licensee could have done more to limit the effect the ‘adult themes’ may have had on children in the audience.”
The show was found to have breached Rules 1.3 (appropriate scheduling) and 1.5 (having particular regard for when children are likely to be listening).