Woss gonna happen now? 

30 October 2008 tbs.pm/968

And so the dust begins to settle on the lamentable Russell Brand / Johnathan Ross fiasco, about which far too many people have already have already had their say, so why not me?

I believe only two listeners complained as a direct result of hearing the actual programme live. That’s no surprise of course. Those who are in the habit of listening to Russell Brand would know what to expect of him. Others, in their tens of thousands apparently, complained because they don’t like Brand and Ross and don’t want their overpaid egos on R2, or anywhere else on the BBC for that matter. I’ll happily nail my colours to the mast and say I have every sympathy with that view. It already seriously irritated that such childish people with so little talent have been given so much prominence. Previously that was just my opinion. Now there seems to be ample evidence that it’s one which is commonly held.

Now Lesley Douglas has resigned, but what I fail to understand is why the one person who is clearly “responsible” for this particular event, Brand’s producer, has apparently remained silent throughout. Brand’s resignation is honourable but the decision to broadcast the item was not his If he has a producer who is too weak-willed or inexperienced to stand against the combined egos of the two presenters then that is a serious management issue which needs to be addressed, but it was an accident waiting to happen…

It’s a symptom of much that is fundamentally wrong at the BBC, and has been for years. The phone voting fiasco was one symptom; this latest is another. The disease is one that has, over the years, systematically stripped the BBC of much of its experienced staff and talent, in favour of young, cheap, inexperience. It’s happened in all areas of the BBC: management, production and engineering. Lack of talent and experience is the fundamental issue.

It’s ironic that I should find myself slightly bitching about this when I regularly bemoan the lack of on-air talent and of real Characters and Personalities on UK radio. But does Character and Personality have to mean rudeness and running amok? Should those Characters be left unfettered anduncontrolled to do whatever comes into their (probably) drunken heads? I don’t think so.

So, will Brand’s or Ross’s career suffer? Almost certainly no. Ross will, be back at the BBC after the dust has settled in 12 weeks time, and whatever my personal opinion of him I think it’s right, in principle, that he should be.

Will British radio suffer? Almost certainly yes. I strongly suspect the lack of responsibility shown by those involved here will set the cause of UK radio back significantly. The result of the inevitable bloody enquiry (yawn) will be the introduction of yet more guidelines, resulting in more stifling bloody bureaucracy. For a while now no-one will be able to say “bum” without getting a chitty signed by three layers of middle management.

You ain’t heard nothing yet; and now it may be quite some time before we do. Welcome to the The Return of Smashie and Nicey. A new word now enters the dictionary: mediacrity.

A member of the Transdiffusion Broadcasting System
Liverpool, Friday 1 December 2023