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Peter Bazalgette on Brand-gate

Baz, on Brand Baz, on Brand In addition to the notoriety gained for his controversial Prospect television collumn, Peter Bazalgette does a sideline in scandalising Britain, developing reality TV programmes like Celebrity Big Brother. We asked Peter - or Baz, as he prefers it - to reflect on the current hoo-ha over Russel Brand. Here is his responses. "Was the prank call perpetrated on the national treasure, Andrew Sachs, really important enough to lead all the national news bulletins all day yesterday ? Did we just want some relief from the financial panic or have we all gone bonkers ? It's Interesting. Most Radio One fans have expressed support for the show. Radio 2 listeners - more the Daily Mail generation, perhaps -have been hostile. There's unsurprisingly an age divide when it comes to taste and decency. Of course the item overstepped the mark. But both Ross and Brand are paid quite a lot of money to be risque. Their producers are there to protect them from their show becoming a complete debacle. So, in addition to Brand (who resigned yesterday), there are few prizes for guessing who else Mark Thompson will eventually sack. But beyond the resignations, its the anatomy of this media fuss that is truly interesting.... It's interesting to note some new elements in this imbroglio , which were also in evidence during the celebrity Big Brother row in January 2007. A handful of those actually listening/watching complain. It is then taken up by a tabloid, then rabble rousers start online petitions which it is easy for the online mob to sign. As the BBC pointed out yesterday, in the immediate aftermath of the Brand/Ross show only two complaints were received. Both related to Ross' swearing rather then the content of the phone calls. Only after the papers got involved did the complaints come in. Then the story rolled, over 48 hours, with each news bulletin giving a fairly meaningless update to the numbers..."8000 have complained....11000 have compalined...18000 have now complained" etc etc. In the old days 500 would have been a stupendous number. Now online instant democracy, splendidly in some ways, allows the cyber mob to make its feelings known, much like an eighteenth century insurrection in favour of some transitory cause. At this point it all goes to the top of the bulletins—ahead of world financail meltdown, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, mayhem in congo—and the management of said broadcaster freezes in shock at the mountain that's blown out of a molehill in all but a few hours. Then it gets truly ludicrous. At the next available press conference the Prime Minister is asked about it. Instead of saying something neutral—as suggested by a comedian yesterday, "why dont you grow up...I'm running the country"—Lord love us, Gordon actually has an opinion. And it's as predictably pc as everyone else's. And what's this ? Well, not to be outdone the leader of the Opposition has an opinion too. I can just about take the various dcms politicos coming out to play, but what are the party leaders thinking of in adding fuel to this fire? Yes the dogs will bark, and the caravan will shortly move on. The BBC Trustees have made it look as though they're very concerned. Ofcom will too, because no official body is going to be outgunned in the PR department. We can look forward to lots of gesture politics and gesture regulation. We haven't yet had the 'Outside Enquiry', the last refuge of a desperate management, but it could just be a matter of time. But someone, somewhere in the BBC is going to be kicking themselves. A half-alert producer could have stopped it going out, and all that would have been needed was an apology to Sachs for abuse of his answerphone. Even once it had been broadcast, an alert management could have carpeted everyone and immediately issued an even more abject apology, before those tribunes at the Daily Mail had even got a sniff of it. But, they didn't. Still, what sport. Tally Ho !

By James Crabtree  

Baz, on Brand

Baz, on Brand

In addition to the notoriety gained for his controversial Prospect television collumn, Peter Bazalgette does a sideline in scandalising Britain, developing reality TV programmes like Celebrity Big Brother. We asked Peter – or Baz, as he prefers it – to reflect on the current hoo-ha over Russel Brand. Here is his response.

“Was the prank call perpetrated on the national treasure, Andrew Sachs, really important enough to lead all the national news bulletins all day yesterday ? Did we just want some…

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