Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand have sparked a lather of frothing outrage with their series of lewd messages on the answerphone of Andrew Sachs, who starred as Manuel in Fawlty Towers, detailing an alleged sexual liason between Brand and Sachs’ granddaughter Georgina Baille (click here to read the transcript).
I feel some sympathy for Sachs and his granddaughter, but what do people expect when Brand and Ross get together? Brand makes a living from his controversial approach to sexuality and Ross caused a storm a while back by asking Conservative leader David Cameron if he had ever had teenage sexual fantasies about former prime minister Margaret Thatcher and referring to a lewd act.
Brand and Ross’ verbal tirade is the latest in a long line of comedic outrages – does anyone remember Julian Clary’s comment about fisting a few years back at an awards show for example? No one inside or outside the BBC should be too surprised that something blew up – the Beeb must have hoped that having these two together on the radio would stir up a welter of controversy and publicity. And now they have it. In spades.
It is worth asking, in light of this, if all publicity is good publicity. Certainly not for the corporate suits at the Beeb, but it’s a great day at the office for those concerned with the careers of Brand and co, whose cult stock is likely to rise considerably, however much they are forced to apologise.
One thing I am certain of is that Sachs’ granddaughter, Georgina Baille, a model who has auditioned for Page 3 in the past and is a member of a burlesque troupe called the Satanic Sluts, will get a welter of job offers and interest in the wake of the controversy, whether or not she actually slept with Brand. The photos of her that have been plucked from the internet by numerous papers (see below) certainly suggest that she might be willing (and even able) to cope with a flurry of media interest.
The saddest thing about the whole affair is that two hip youngish comedians felt it necessary to be so flagrantly disrespectful to a member of the old guard. The blunt truth of it is that they were as casually brutal to Andrew Sachs as Basil Fawlty ever was to Manuel – and all because the 78 year old missed a phone call he was supposed to be taking for the radio show.