BBC Radio 2 head quits over prank-call row
As public complaints about British comic Russell Brand and BBC host Jonathan Ross's lewd telephone prank surpass 35,000, the controversy has claimed another staffer at the public broadcaster.
Controller Lesley Douglas, head of BBC Radio Two, tendered her resignation on Thursday — a day after the network suspended Brand and Ross. Brand also quit his radio hosting gig on Wednesday.
"It is a matter of the greatest possible sadness to me that a programme on my network has been the cause of such a controversy," Douglas said in her resignation letter, released by the BBC.
She also added her own apology to listeners, to actor Andrew Sachs — the target of the prank calls — and to his family.
In a pre-recorded broadcast of Brand's national radio show that aired Oct. 18, the comic and popular BBC presenter Ross left a series of explicit messages on the 78-year-old Sach's answering machine.
Among a host of lewd comments, the two discussed Brand having sexual relations with the actor's granddaughter and how the veteran Fawlty Towers actor might hang himself after hearing their messages.
Though both have issued apologies, public complaints continue to mount, with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown among those who have criticized the incident.
Ross, one of the BBC's highest-paid personalities, has been suspended without pay for 12 weeks.
"Jonathan Ross's contribution to this edition of The Russell Brand Show was utterly unacceptable and cannot be allowed to go uncensored or without sanction," said BBC director general Mark Thompson.
"Nothing like this must ever happen again."
Both the BBC and British media regulator Ofcom are investigating the incident.