Belfast Telegraph

Ross returns after Sachsgate row

Jonathan Ross is to return to a presenting role on Radio 2, six years after the Sachsgate scandal which led to him being suspended from the air and eventually leaving the BBC.

The presenter, who has since been given an ITV chat show, will be back on air on the station at the end of this month as he provides a week of holiday cover for Steve Wright's programme.

A station spokesman said it was a "one-off stint" and there were no plans for a permanent return.

Ross left the station mired in controversy when he appeared on his friend Russell Brand's show in 1998 and the pair were heard to leave lewd messages on the answerphone of veteran actor Andrew Sachs.

It prompted 42,000 complaints and led to the departure of senior BBC figures, including the station's controller. Brand resigned and Ross was suspended from broadcasting his own Saturday morning show for three months, as well as his BBC One chat show.

Although Ross returned to Radio 2 when his ban was up, he left the BBC just a few months later in the fall-out from the incident.

He has appeared on a number of BBC programmes since, including recent slots on Don't Make Me Laugh and Just A Minute on Radio 4, his stand-in role for Wright from August 26 to 29 will be his first presenting role on Radio 2 since his departure.

A BBC spokesman said: "Jonathan is returning for this one-off stint of holiday cover for Steve Wright. There are no plans to bring him back permanently.

"Jonathan is an experienced and talented broadcaster who presented on Radio 2 for 10 years and was very popular with our audience. He is standing in for Steve Wright while he is on holiday and we hope listeners will enjoy listening to him on the network for these few days."

Sachs's wife Melody has been critical of the decision to hire Ross, telling the Daily Mail: "It's very sad and thoughtless and disrespectful."

Ross returned to the airwaves following his suspension at the end of January 2009.

He announced he would not be renewing his contract with the BBC - reported to have been worth around £18 million for his previous three years - in January 2010 and presented his last Radio 2 show in July that year.


From Belfast Telegraph