BBC slammed for failing to act on Russell Brand behaviour long before Sachsgate

The BBC is under fire for not responding earlier to Russell Brand’s on-air behaviour, when he was employed by the broadcaster.

The 48-year-old worked for the BBC in the mid-noughties and was reported by The Times to have made sexualised references about female employees on his show.

The Grays-born star made remarks towards newsreader Andrea Simmons, while speaking on his BBC Radio 2 show, in which he branded her a “sex bomb” and “erotic”.

He also said on the show that he’d like to “go under the desk” while she was delivering the news to listeners.

The Times reports that several times following this incident the comedian was forced to apologise to production staff.

The publication claims that its sources said that Brand’s attitude towards the opposite sex had become an open secret in UK radio and TV.

It added that complaints were made to Lesley Douglas – then BBC controller for Radio 2 and 6 Music – by production staff at BBC radio during this period. However no action was taken, it is alleged.

In December 2007, Douglas received another serious complaint about the actor in the Radio 2 studio.

The Times’ sources claim that the complaint related to an “alarming display of aggression and disrespect” towards Radio 2 production staff.

The behaviour is said to have included Mr Brand flinging things around the studio “in fits of rage” and “urinating in a bottle in full view of everyone”.

Mr Brand is reported to have done this in front of guests to the BBC, including someone that “appeared to be a minor”, who had been sent by a charity to appear on Radio 2.

The alleged complaint against the star and any others that had been made were not included in the official reports into Sachsgate that followed.

The scandal, which took place in October 2008, saw Mr Brand and his co-presenter Jonathan Ross make prank calls to the Fawlty Towers icon Andrew Sachs. The pair left a rude message on his answering machine and Mr Brand suggested he was in a relationship with the actor’s granddaughter, Georgina Baillie.

Ross then said: “He f***ed your granddaughter”. Sachs was not aware of this.

A spokesman for the BBC said it has clear expectations and policies around conduct at work and had taken the Jonathan Ross Radio 2 incident incredibly seriously.

He said: “We hope that demonstrates that the BBC takes issues seriously and is prepared to act. Indeed, we would add that in addition to acting on the serious editorial breach at the time, the BBC has, over successive years, evolved its approach to how it manages talent and indeed how it deals with complaints or issues raised.

“We will always listen to people if they come forward with any concerns, on any issue related to any individual working at the BBC — past or present.”

Mr Brand, who is now best known for his social media content, has been accused of rape, sexual assault and abuse by The Times, The Sunday Times and Channel 4 Dispatches.

Four women, one of whom was 16 at the time of Mr Brand’s relationship with her, have come forward with claims against the celebrity.

The allegations relate to a seven year period at the height of his fame. Mr Brand took to YouTube and Twitter/X to deny the allegations against him.

He said: “I’ve received two extremely disturbing letters, or a letter, and an email, one from a mainstream media TV company, one from a newspaper, listing a litany of extremely egregious and aggressive attacks, as well as some pretty stupid stuff like, my community festival should be stopped, that I shouldn’t be able to attack mainstream media narratives on this channel, but amidst this litany of astonishing, rather baroque attacks are some very serious allegations that I absolutely refute.

“These allegations pertain to the time when I was working in the mainstream, when I was in the newspapers all the time, when I was in the movies, and as I’ve written about extensively in my books, I was very very promiscuous.

“Now during that time of promiscuity, the relationships I had were absolutely, always consensual.”

He adds: “I was always transparent about that then, almost too transparent, and I’m being transparent about it now as well, and to see that transparency metastasized into something criminal, that I absolutely deny, makes me question, is there another agenda at play?”

Watch Russell Brand: In Plain Sight: Dispatches at 9pm on Channel 4.

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