What is the role of the costly but largely ineffectual 'sovereign body' which is known as the BBC Trust? Even the Trust's chairman had a little difficulty explaining the minutiae of BBC governance to a House of Lords communications committee... e.g. this extract - Q319 Committee chairman: Therefore, at the heart of this, you are again saying you are not a regulator, yet you are saying you are a regulator? Sir Michael Lyons: No
Who has ultimate editorial control over Radio 2? Answer: obviously the editor-in-chief, not the controller of Radio 2 as some would have people believe. Next question - Why did Russell Brand resign, and not Jonathan Ross? Answer: Because he had the good grace, whereas Ross is venal and has no shame. Question - Why did Lesley Douglas resign? Answer: Because she is a decent honourable person, who didn't think her subordinates should take the blame for broadcasting those prank messages.
On 22 February 2008 Ross told his audience that he had won an award from Lavender News which, according to Mr Ross, is a paper that campaigns for gay rights. Ross said "Apparently I'm the celeb who's been nicest to gays this year and I am proud to receive this award, but it made me think have they never seen this show?" He then showed a series of video clips of introductions to his house band, in which he was seen making vulgar jokes about gay men. After that, Ross quipped "It's only when I found that Jim Davidson came second that it all made sense to me."
So it seems that Jonathan Ross himself shared my reservations on his gay-friendly credentials. In my blog on 11 October 2007 I suggested that if there are to be BBC job losses then the overpaid Jonathan Ross should go, along with his hopeless house band. But only one week later Mark Thompson defended Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, explaining how cheap it is in terms of cost per viewer-hour. He said: And in the end, you ask the public do you want quality or not from the BBC, they will always say yes.
Almost exactly a year ago Sir Michael Lyons criticised the salaries paid to Jonathan Ross and other 'top talent'. But he changed his mind after a licence fee funded report concluded that the stars weren't overpaid after all. The BBC Trust Chairman subsequently explained why Jonathan Ross is worth the money. I bet Sir Michael wishes he'd kept to his original beliefs and not bothered to commission the worthless report.
Russell Brand has been correct to resign over his mistake. Nothing in his BBC employ became him like the leaving it. Both he and Lesley Douglas, controller of Radio 2, leave with grace, dignity and respect.
Some concern was expressed on Wednesday's Newsnight that there is a danger the BBC will lose touch with the next generation of licence fee payers by giving in to public anger. Emily Maitlis questioned what signal Brand's departure sends out to younger viewers that "the BBC is so desperate to attract?" The truth, as this blog has consistently pointed out, is that the BBC has not only spurned teenage viewers, it has also actively discriminated against them.