Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Friday, 21 November 2008

Brand and Ross's controversial careers

Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand

Broadcasters Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross have been heavily criticised for a recent broadcast on Brand's BBC Radio 2 show.

But this is not the first time that either presenter has caused controversy.

Brand, a former heroin addict, has found himself in trouble - and out of work - several times since he launched his media career on the back of a successful stand-up act.

He lost one of his first jobs, hosting MTV Select, when he turned up for work the day after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America dressed as Osama bin Laden.

The following year, he was sacked from radio station XFM for reading pornographic material on air during a Sunday afternoon show.

Bob Geldof
Brand insulted Bob Geldof at the 2006 NME Awards

After giving up drugs in 2003, he was hired by Channel 4 to present the raucous Big Brother's Big Mouth discussion show - which launched with the reality show's fifth series in 2004.

It was this programme that propelled him into the mainstream, with Brand given the freedom to riff on the antics of the Big Brother housemates while perfecting his dandy lothario character.

The show also won him a slot on Jonathan Ross's BBC One chat show - and the pair established a witty rapport that saw the comedian's stock rise even further.

But he was never far from trouble - and clashed with Bob Geldof when he presented the 2006 NME Awards.

As Geldof collected an award, he hurled a personal insult at Brand, who quickly replied: "It's no wonder Bob Geldof knows so much about famine - he's been dining out on I Don't Like Mondays for 30 years."

Later that year, Brand fell out with Rod Stewart at the GQ Man of the Year awards after claiming he had slept with Stewart's daughter Kimberly.

He subsequently admitted the claim was false after Stewart confronted him on stage.

"I've always had this impulse to be destructive," the comedian told the Guardian in 2006.

"I have to say to myself, 'remember, you've got all these things to do - don't ruin it just for the moment.'"

Hoax call

But fans have embraced the comedian's edgy, anything-goes style.

His autobiography, My Booky Wook, was a best-seller and his acting career has begun to take off in the US after he appeared in the 2007 St Trinian's film and Judd Apatow's comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

However, in July, during a stand-up performance in Northampton, the 33-year-old made a hoax call to local police.

During the call, Brand claimed he had spotted a man responsible for a series of assaults in the area. He later apologised and Northamptonshire Police decided not to bring charges.

Brand made headlines again in September when he presented the MTV Video Music Awards and described US president George Bush as "that retarded cowboy fella".

He added: "It was nice of you to let him have a go, because, in England, he wouldn't be trusted with a pair of scissors."

Brand also criticised US pop group The Jonas Brothers for wearing purity rings symbolising their virginity.

Heather Mills
Ross called Heather Mills a liar

Although a more experienced broadcaster than Brand, Ross, 48, has also courted controversy.

He received criticism in 2006 when David Cameron appeared as a guest on his popular BBC chat show, and was asked personal sexual questions relating to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Ross was defended by the BBC publicly, but repeat showings of the interview have since been banned.

The following year, Ross appeared at the British Comedy Awards, where he joked his salary meant he was "worth 1,000 BBC journalists".

The comment was made at a particularly delicate time as the BBC had just announced it was to make more than 2,000 members of staff redundant.

The National Union of Journalists condemned Ross, calling the comment "obscene".

A joke made about Heather Mills caused yet more controversy for the star earlier this year.

Soon after Mills and Sir Paul McCartney announced their divorce, Ross called her a "liar" in a monologue on his show.

He added that he "wouldn't be surprised if we found out she's actually got two legs".

Both Ross and Brand made personal apologies to actor Andrew Sachs after leaving obscene messages on his answer phone during the recording of Brand's Radio 2 show on 16 October.

Brand subsequently resigned, while Ross was suspended without pay for 12 weeks.

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