Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Sunday, 9 November 2008

Brand admits to more lewd remarks

Russell Brand
Brand said the comments were "completely devoid of malice"

Comedian Russell Brand has said his infamous broadcast with Jonathan Ross was toned down to take out the "more personal stuff" before it went on air.

The pair caused huge controversy when listeners to Brand's BBC Radio 2 show heard them leaving obscene answer phone messages for the actor Andrew Sachs.

But Brand has revealed the worst bits were cut out before the broadcast.

He told The Observer he believed Mr Sachs had agreed to let the show go out if they toned it down, which they did.

"We were told that Andrew Sachs had okayed it," Brand told the paper.

"The grey area is that our brilliant young producer Nic Philps called Andrew Sachs afterwards and said: 'Is it OK, can we use it, do you mind?'

"And he said: 'Oh yeah, but can you tone it down a bit?' So we did. We took out the more personal stuff."

Brand did not give further details of the material that was edited out.

Andrew Sachs
Andrew Sachs is best known for playing Manuel in Fawlty Towers

Mr Sachs has said he spoke to the producer before the pre-recorded show went on air, and told him he was unhappy with the hosts' comments.

The producer asked if Mr Sachs could do an interview the following week instead, the Fawlty Towers star said. He agreed, believing the original material would not be used.

Brand told the Observer there was "no malicious intent".

"What's difficult about the whole thing is that it was completely devoid of malice, and there's been a retrospective application of cruelty and intention to cause offence," he said.

He accepted that it could be difficult for producers to keep "big egos" like him and Ross under control, but that the stars took "complete responsibility".

He added that it he would not let it change his style of comedy, saying: "Despite how huge the fuss is, essentially it's meaningless."

The broadcast attracted 42,000 complaints and led to the resignations of Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas and the station's head of specialist music and compliance, David Barber.

Jonathan Ross
Jonathan Ross has been suspended from his BBC radio and TV shows

It also prompted Brand to quit the BBC, while Ross is suspended without pay for three months.

Meanwhile, senior politicians and BBC figures have called for curbs on potentially offensive comedy and star salaries.

Brand and Ross made a series of offensive calls to Sachs, 78, which included obscene comments about the actor's 23-year-old granddaughter, Georgina Baillie.

On Saturday, Radio 2 broadcast two apologies. The corporation had to amend the wording for the second airing after a complaint by Mr Sachs.

The first went out at 1003 GMT, when Ross's show would have gone out, and a fuller version was broadcast again at 2113 GMT during Brand's former slot.

The first said: "On 18 October, the BBC broadcast an exchange between Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross on the Russell Brand Show on Radio 2.

"This concerned the actor Andrew Sachs and his granddaughter Georgina Baillie.

"Some of this exchange was left on the voicemail of Mr Sachs.

"The conversation was grossly offensive and an unacceptable intrusion into the private lives of both Mr Sachs and Ms Baillie.

"It was a serious breach of editorial standards, and should never have been recorded or broadcast.

"The BBC would like to apologise unreservedly to Mr Sachs, Ms Baillie and to our audiences as licence fee payers."

This was later amended after Mr Sachs contacted the BBC to say the apology should also mention his wife and family.

For the second broadcast, the last sentence was changed to: "The BBC would like to apologise unreservedly to Mr and Mrs Sachs, Ms Baillie and their family, and to our audiences as licence fee payers."

A BBC spokesman said: "Mr Sachs asked us to specifically include mention of his wife and family in the second broadcast apology... and we were happy to do this."

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