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Russell Brand in trouble with Ofcom for discussing sex with an Elvis impersonator on air

The presenter behind the infamous Sachsgate broadcast is in hot water again after being found to be in breach of the broadcasting code

Published: Tuesday, 29th August 2017 at 11:18 am

Russell Brand is in trouble with the broadcasting authorities again after questioning an Elvis impersonator about his sex life on his Radio X show.


The comic and presenter was found to have breached the broadcasting code during the 28th May edition of his Sunday morning show in which he asked James Burrell, an Elvis Presley tribute artist, if he had ever had sex in the guise of the singer. This was followed by a number of follow-up questions such as “Did you do the voice?"

Burrell's replies included, “I’ve done it without the jump suit, but I have kept the cape on” and "the only difficulty with that is they’re studded, you see, and they get very spikey and so they can cut you in places that you wouldn’t imagine”.

After a brief studio reaction, this was followed up by an anecdote about Elvis Presley in which another contributor, the programme’s resident poet Mr Gee, claimed that the singer had left a hotel with a friend after having just met a prostitute, and told him that “she gives tremendous head, tremendous head”.

Ofcom, which had received just one complaint about the broadcast, ruled that the pre-recorded transmission was inappropriate to air at a time when a number of children were likely to be listening.

It decided that the broadcast broke rule 1.3: “Children protected by appropriate scheduling from material that is unsuitable for them”.

It also breached rule 1.5: “Radio broadcasters must have particular regard to times when children are particularly likely to be listening”.

Radio X owners Global Radio said that Radio X targeted an "alternative" audience and “maintains a distinction from other mainstream stations”, and that Brand was “a well-known comedian and broadcaster with a loyal following who are familiar with his style of humour”.

However Ofcom said that, while it took into account Global’s view, it ruled that it was not “an appropriate topic of discussion for younger listeners and, in our view, it was unsuitable for children”

It added: “The item was broadcast before lunchtime on a Sunday, when children were particularly likely to be listening, with no prior warning for listeners about what was going to be discussed."

Brand is no stranger to controversy for his radio presenting duties. The infamous Sachsgate incident in 2008, when he and Jonathan Ross left lewd voicemail messages on the phone of Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs, plunged the BBC into crisis.


Ross was suspended and Brand and Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas left their jobs at the station following an outcry and the intervention of then Prime Minister Gordon Brown who labelled the incident "clearly inappropriate and unacceptable".


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