Page last updated at 11:30 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Brand and Ross suspended by BBC

Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross
Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross both have Saturday shows on Radio 2

Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand are to be suspended and all their shows taken off air until the BBC has investigated their prank calls made on Radio 2.

The news was announced in a statement by director general Mark Thompson.

Mr Thompson, who is on holiday, made the comments in a statement.

Meanwhile, Georgina Baillie has told the Sun that Ross and Brand should be sacked over prank calls made to her grandfather, actor Andrew Sachs.

Earlier, the BBC said filming for Jonathan Ross' TV chat show would go ahead as planned later.

BBC audiences react to the prank calls

The BBC has apologised, and it and watchdog Ofcom are investigating.

Other guests due to appear on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross are comedian Frank Skinner, US teen singer Miley Cyrus and band The Killers.

But Sir David Attenborough, due on as a guest, says he is "discussing the situation with the BBC".

The BBC could not confirm whether Ross's Saturday morning Radio 2 show, as well as Brand's Saturday night show, will also go ahead as planned.

Brand and Ross made a series of prank calls to Sachs, 78, famous for his part in Fawlty Towers. The calls were broadcast on Radio 2 as part of a Russell Brand's pre-recorded Saturday night show on 18 October.

During the calls, Ross revealed Brand had slept with Sachs' granddaughter.

More than 18,000 people have complained to the BBC.

'Breach of privacy'

Ms Baillie, 23, told the Sun the pair should "pay for what they've done with their jobs".

She said her grandfather was "really upset and says he wants the whole situation to end".

"What's funny about humiliating a lovely old man who has never harmed anyone in his life?" she added.

She said Brand and Ross were "beyond contempt".

"It was bad enough that they recorded these things on my grandfather's answer machine but astonishing the BBC saw fit to broadcast it when they could have stopped it.

"Someone high up at the BBC must have decided it was funny and suitable for national radio. They've shown an appalling lack of judgement."

On Tuesday afternoon, Sachs told the BBC that Ross had "personally delivered a letter of apology and some flowers" since the broadcast.

He has not "heard anything" from Brand, the actor added.

'Risky line'

Conservative shadow culture secretary Mr Hunt will say in a speech to the London School of Economics later that it is "wrong for broadcasters to produce programmes that legitimise negative social behaviour".

He told BBC News the corporation's reaction to the affair was "concerning".

"We still don't know who gave permission for that broadcast to go out.

"It looks like it broke the broadcasting code about not doing things that are offensive and not doing things that breach people's privacy."

Director of audio and music Tim Davie said it was 'too early to speculate'

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also criticised the pair for their "inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour" on Brand's radio show.

He is also expected to face questions from MPs over the affair in prime minister's questions later.

BBC News website readers can follow prime minister's questions live on the BBC News website.

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Telegraph PM demands BBC acts over Brand-Ross prank - 29 hrs ago
Mid Sussex Today Sack cruel DJs, says granddaughter The granddaughter of Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs has called for Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to be sacked for their lewd phone calls. - 30 hrs ago
Press Association Sack 'cruel' DJs says granddaughter - 30 hrs ago
Telegraph Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand: Gordon Brown demands action from BBC - 30 hrs ago
Sky News 'Obscene' Calls: BBC Under Fire - 30 hrs ago

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