Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Saturday, 1 November 2008

Parkinson attacks 'obscene' calls

Sir Michael Parkinson
Sir Michael questioned the BBC decision to hire Russell Brand

Former BBC chat show host Sir Michael Parkinson has called Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand's lewd calls to actor Andrew Sachs "indefensible".

Speaking on Radio 5 Live he branded the calls "obscene, tasteless and unfunny".

He added that he had no sympathy for Brand, who resigned last week, but claimed Ross would bounce back.

"He's very good at his job but he's given to fits of madness now and again." Ross has been suspended from the BBC for 12 weeks without pay.

"In the end what Brand did, and what Jonathan did, was indefensible."

"Jonathan should have more oil in his lamp frankly, more sense," Sir Michael told Eammon Holmes.

"I don't have an opinion on the other guy," he continued. "He's generously called a comedian."

Sir Michael questioned the decision by Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas, who also resigned this week, to hire Brand.

Jonathan Ross
Ross stood down as host of the British Comedy Awards on Friday

Echoing the comments made by DJ Paul Gambaccini, he said there was a feeling that "sooner or later it would put them in a very embarrassing situation".

"As for Jonathan, he'll come back, he'll be fine.

"With Jonathan what you see is what you get and he's been a popular member of our broadcasting elite now for 20 years or so, so he's got to be doing something right."

But Ross's fellow Radio 2 colleague, Sir Terry Wogan, said star's three-month suspension diminished "not just him, but also his reputation".

He told the Daily Telegraph: "What the BBC have done to Jonathan by the suspension is terminal.

"It is very damaging to him and I would not be surprised if he did not come back."

Greg Dyke
Dyke said the BBC should have walked away from the Ross deal

Meanwhile, former BBC director general Greg Dyke told the Times the BBC risked losing public support over the huge salaries paid to star presenters like Ross.

Ross, the corporation's highest paid presenter, currently earns 6m a year - as part of a three-year contract.

"There is always a price that is too high for a publicly funded organisation to pay," said Dyke, arguing that the BBC "should have said, very reluctantly, goodbye" during the bidding war for Ross.

However, Mr Dyke, who resigned from the BBC following the publication of the controversial Hutton Report in 2004 , maintained the BBC would survive the scandal.

"Over the years the there have been many weeks like this and the BBC has survived and prospered," he said.

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