Censorship – A Delicate Balancing Act?

By Lauren McKenzie and Joanne Ogilvie

When comedy mavericks, Jonathan Ross, 47, and Russell Brand, 33, were suspended from the BBC yesterday, after targetting the 23- year- old grand daughter of veteran actor Andrew Sachs- an army of opinions were heard throughout the nation.

Live on Brand’s Radio 2 Show, the duo called Sach’s answer machine and rather contentiously made a comment about engaging in sexual relations with Georgina Baillie; grand daughter of the 78- year old actor, famous for playing the part of Manuel, in the BBC’s Fawlty Towers.

Both Brand and Ross are well-known for their flamboyant personalities and outlandish opinions, regarded – for their ability to stand out from a crowd. Now TV bosses have decided that this stray towards “deviance” is grounds for suspension.

How far is too far when differenciating between opinion, prejudice ranting and freedom of artistic expression.

This is a question which is posed time after time to Ofcom, who’s job it is to ensure the UK Communications Act of 2003 is being followed by individualists of the mediasphere. It could be argued that censorship should be an individual’s choice of moral stance or is it in fact becoming clear that mediates can be trusted by themselves?

It would appear that Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross may be taking more than their fair share of the blame. Brand added: ” It would be silly of me to speak without thinking because thats caused all this trouble in the first place”.

The show was pre-recorded and was not live, hence it could have been filtered and was given the chance to  be screened by BBC Director of Audio and Music, Tim Davie – who should have not allowed the programme to be aired knowing full well that it would have caused distress.

Tim Davie has yet to comment.

In recent years the word ‘censorship’ has been thrown around in a not-so-subtle way by bosses petrified of offending ethnic groups and minorities. In a mission to keep Britain completely neutral on the religion front, any allegations towards specific ‘races’ were taken overtly seriously: causing employees over the UK suddenly facing the risk of losing their jobs. Now the forgotten pandemonium has crawled its way back into the limelight.

This latest ‘scandal’ has surely been completely over-rated. Whatever happened to commedianes doing their jobs? The idea of a joke has now been stretched far across over the line of chilvary to the point where our Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has felt the need to comment dubbing the pranks “unacceptable”.

The arts have always been loved by the mass audience and now this over-protective censorizing is ruining the sanctity of the comedic value. Lighten up viewers, even Georgina Baillie is using this scandal for her own  personal gain – by shamelessly selling her story and Andrew Sachs himself has not complained to Ofcom who are personally launching the investigation.

It is time for a new generation of viewing compassion, a little more consideration to those at the receiving end of a joke but also a little more consideration to those telling the jokes. They are constantly in competition to push the barrier up a notch, shouldn’t we as consumers move through with them.