A letter sent to Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC

Firstly can I say, with many thousands of others, that Mark Thompson was absolutely right to suspend Mr Ross and Mr Brand in the light of a huge public response to the humiliation, shame and distress caused to Andrew Sachs, his granddaughter, family and friends.

As it happened, my wife and I returned from a social event on the evening of the 18th and as we returned by car found that radio was tuned to Radio 2. We never did hear the offensive material aimed at Mr Sachs and his granddaughter, because it was so awful we turned it off after 90 seconds!

In what we heard, Mr Ross had explained he’d done his wife a small, fair favour and he was going to ask for a favour back and “slip up behind her” in bed.

This caused waves of hilarious laughter, gross comments from Mr Brand and general leery, loud and dirty responses.

Mr Ross highlighted Mr Brand’s promiscuity and the language soon descended into the similarity between quaffing various brands of wine to various vaginas!

We were then treated to a number of tastes, by which point it was turned off.

I confess, over the next few days it had occurred to me to write and complain, but both Mr Ross and Mr Brand poke fun, swear, blaspheme and talk dirty whenever they can on radio and television and any letters of complaint appear to have been taken with a pinch of salt.

This has continued for a very long time.

The fact this was pre-recorded and authorised for broadcast is even more stunning. These calls were not a prank, they are illegal. If I did this privately, never mind on air, I’d almost certainly be receiving a visit from the police.

Were I to be found guilty of making malicious or abusive phone calls I could be fined or sentenced with several months in prison. Perhaps this is what Mr Ross and Mr Brand need to bring them back into the real world. Whereas if bank tellers, shop assistants and waiters spoke to us like this we would take our business elsewhere.

I was barely out of my teens when 40 years ago Kenneth Tynan uttered the F word on TV, and slowly at first, but with massive acceleration of late, we’ve been subjected to this arrested adolescence where the likes of Ross and Brand congratulate themselves for breathing, insulting, laughing and talking all at the same time!

With the exception of the tightly scripted Jonathan Ross film review programme, any time messers Ross and Brand stray from their autocue, they stray from comedy idealism to pragmatism – in other words what can we get away with?

Their lavatorial humour, expletives, blasphemies and obscenities regularly spill over into mainstream comedy of all things cooking and traffic cop programmes. It’s not that there haven’t been complaints but this rise of gratuitous, offensive and usually not very funny attempts to shock and offend without care or understanding that we are paying their wages!

Lastly, I’m told that Traffic Cops, aired by BBC1 Mondays at 9pm recently had 27 serious expletives broadcast.

Friday Night with Jonathan Ross 10.30pm had 19 serious expletives, of which 9 were bleeped out – that must have been pretty bad!

But the BBC are not alone in this regard. Jamie’s Ministry of Food on Channel 4, Tuesdays 9pm, had 27 serious expletives, ITV 1’s Natural Born Sellers recently had 21 serious expletives – and so I could go on.

I once asked former politician Jonathan Aitken what led him to lie about a bill at the Paris Ritz of less than £1,000. He responded, when you think you’re at the pinnacle of your career you’re indestructible and unassailable. A few months in prison and an encounter with Christ and Christianity changed all that for good.

Perhaps we should be praying for Mr Ross and Mr Brand, in the hope they will use their significant skills and intelligence to benefit others, albeit for entertainment, not ridicule, offense and indecency, which increasingly it seems they are the only people who find funny.

Yours sincerely,

Gerald Coates


7 Responses to A letter sent to Mark Thompson, Director General of the BBC

  1. Philip says:

    Personally I did not complain but to see so many people jump on the “Mary Whitehouse” bandwagon & to see “shares in Ross” hit an all time low could be seen as quite funny.
    Text & Emails sent to the BBC that are “Spirit & Life” should be shared with others for others benefit.
    Come on Jonathan, don’t hold it in!

  2. Philip says:

    I must confess, when the BBC had all that controversy over Jonathan’s salary, I sent them a message telling them that Mr Ross should only get a free T.V. licence for all his hard work! It was meant as a joke (“tongue in cheek”).

    At least Jonathan Ross got James Bonds watch for “children in need”.
    I wonder what Gerald’s P.A. thinks of that?

  3. Rich says:

    This was a classic example of the media driving a story rather than a national outcry of moral indignation. Does anyone doubt that had the call been connected that they would not have been as vulgar? Gerald is right about one thing, if you don’t like it switch it off. Unfortunately most of the outcry smells of religion. Lets not buy into this false media storm of pious outrage.

  4. Philip says:


    I have discovered that the BBC are far more likely to block ones individual comments for being too controversial than they are to deal with their “stars”.

  5. Boy Racer. says:

    “Good radio” should help one concentrate on their work or driving.
    If you find yourself driving dangerously or going the wrong way try not to swear but do change channels or press the off button !

  6. chris hayes says:

    Mr Coates calm down calm down why noit get monkton combe to answer complaints

  7. Ha! Easily one of the best things I’ve read all day. Thanks!

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