Robert Hampton

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29th October 2008

Tarnished Brand
Posted by at 9.43pm | In the News, Radio | No responses

It has its own sidebar on the BBC News site, and approximately one million pointless blog entries on MediaGuardian — the Brand/Ross “phone prank scandal” is officially big news. It’s even attracted a comment from Gordon Brown, who apparently has nothing more important to focus on. Everyone else seems to have weighed in, so here are my thoughts on the matter.

I quite like Russell Brand. I never listened to his Radio 2 show, but I’ve enjoyed much of the stuff he’s done on telly (Ponderland was a pleasant surprise, and he was one of the best guests to grace the panel of HIGNFY this year). This isn’t the first time he’s crossed the line, but I can’t imagine that the Daily Mail will get their wish and see him disappear into obscurity.

However, despite what the majority of Radio 1 listeners apparently think, I don’t think Brand and Ross’s antics were funny or clever. Yes, comedy should be all about challenging preconceptions and pushing boundaries, but this didn’t do that — it was just… well, stupid.

Has the BBC over-reacted in the face of a tabloid witch-hunt? Yes, but they did themselves no favours by hiding behind bland statements from anonymous spokesmen for days, while the corporation’s enemies were demanding blood. The BBC’s slowness to respond has allowed the tabloids to fuel the story with plenty of good old-fashioned hysteria.

Now its time to get a sense of proportion: at this moment Google News reports 4,115 articles about this kerfuffle. Meanwhile people are dying in wars, losing jobs, and having their civil liberties taken away — can we start reading about that on the front pages please?