Brand quits BBC radio show after suspension for prank calls
Flamboyant comedian Russell Brand has resigned from his British Broadcasting Corporation radio show after the broadcaster indefinitely suspended him, along with popular broadcaster Jonathan Ross, amid a controversy over lewd prank calls made to a British actor.
Brand quit on Wednesday and, to reporters waiting outside his London home, apologized once again to 78-year-old Andrew Sachs, best known for playing the character Manuel on the classic comedy series Fawlty Towers.
On Brand's nationally broadcast radio show on Oct. 18, the two hosts aired prank phone messages they'd left on the Sachs' answering machine. In the lewd messages, the two hosts joked about Brand having slept with Sach's granddaughter, burlesque performer Georgina Baillie.
She later acknowledged she had a sexual relationship with Brand, but said the calls to her grandfather were "cruel."
More than 18,000 complaints
Both Ross, 47, and Brand, 33, have apologized for their broadcast.
Nonetheless, Ofcom, the U.K.'s media regulator, received more than 18,000 complaints about the skit and is now investigating whether the incident breached the country's broadcasting code.
Earlier on Wednesday, BBC director general Mark Thompson indefinitely suspended the two hosts.
"I have decided that it is not appropriate for either Russell Brand or Jonathan Ross to continue broadcasting on the BBC until I have seen the full report of the actions of all concerned," Thompson said, referring to an internal investigation into their conduct.
Thompson also issued a "personal and unreserved apology" for what he described as a "completely unacceptable broadcast."
Aside from offending listeners, the show also drew criticism in Parliament, including from U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who called the radio broadcast "clearly inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour" on Tuesday.
Known for his hedonistic lifestyle and quick-witted humour, Brand is a rising star who has appeared in Hollywood movies like Penelope and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
In September, he hosted the MTV Video Music Awards and caused a minor fuss for his mocking of the clean-cut pop trio Jonas Brothers and U.S. President George W. Bush.
Ross, who hosts several BBC TV and radio shows, is one of the public broadcaster's best-known and highest-paid personalities.
With files from the Associated Press