I cannot believe the scale of the over-reaction to the so called ‘Sachsgate’ debacle, for which Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand have now been suspended.
I listened to the entire monologue on YouTube and it was only marginally worse than the material that is regularly broadcast on Brand’s show every Saturday. Admittedly, the one-way conversations had virtually no comedic value, but I also didn’t think that there was that much to be offended by, unless of course you were either Andrew Sachs, or his grand daughter Georgina Baillie.
There have apparently been over 18,000 complaints made since the broadcast on Saturday 18th October; OfCom are on the scene, the police are involved, Gordon Brown has stuck his oar in and what for? What actually is the point? Is this helping anybody?
Those aligned with the Brand/Ross lynch mob, have made a big deal about poor old frail Andrew Sachs being irrevocably hurt by the answerphone messages that were left for him, but so far, I can find little to corroborate this belief.
The Guardian 29/10/08:
“MediaGuardian.co.uk understands that on the day the Brand and Ross’s calls to Sachs’ answerphone were recorded, a producer from the BBC rang the former Fawlty Towers actor to ask if he would mind them being used. It is claimed that Sachs said they could be, as long as they were toned down a bit.”
The Independent 29/10/08:
Asked if he [Andrew Sachs] thought the BBC should have suspended the pair earlier, he said: “I wasn’t counting the time, if it happens, it happens. If they are slow on it, it’s a problem someone else has to take up.” and “These things happen, people get things wrong, in this case they got it badly wrong.”
It would appear that he couldn’t actually give a fuck what was said, but is probably more pissed off by the overblown reaction to the entire charade.
The second line of pity offered up by the Ross/Brand hate club is aimed at Andrew Sachs’ poor grand daughter Georgina Baillie (below, in case you thought that was Andrew Sachs). She is an ‘aspiring model’ that ‘sold’ her version of events to The Sun and “dances under the stage name Voluptua in burlesque troupe The Satanic Sluts” The Daily Mail 29/10/08.
Quite the shrinking violet. It’s hard to imagine that her grandfather was shocked by the revelation that she had had sex with Russell Brand. I would have thought that by now, you were in the minority if you hadn’t slept with him!
So, to conclude, have Andrew Sachs and his grand daughter been damaged by what was said, or have they been damaged by the media hyperbole?
Well, to look at the statistics for a second. Between Saturday 18th October, when the show was initially broadcast, and the following Sunday (26th), when ‘The Hate Mail on Sunday’ ran it’s first visceral article of anger against the pair, the BBC had received TWO complaints and now, as I mentioned, that total has risen to over 18,000.
I understand people being offended. I’m sure that when Fawlty Towers re-runs many Spanish immigrants wince at the sight of an uptight hotelier overworking, mocking, verbally abusing and occasionally beating, a racist stereotype of Spanish man. Although, the majority of the British population would hardly notice there was an issue.
Boundaries of taste and acceptability are constantly tried and tested and inevitably there are always going to be those that overstep the mark, but without people pushing the limits there would be no progression — No Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones, no Animal Farm by George Orwell, no That Nigger’s Crazy by Richard Prior.
We are a week away from potentially ushering in a new era of politics — a new hope. The Daily Mail and other such gutter press highlight the ‘old way’ — the buttressing of antiquated ideals and a firm stand against Obamas’ ‘change over fear’. I only hope that when the BBC and OfCom carry out their review they can see the ‘new way’.