Jonathan Ross all over again…

Oh god – here we go again. The News of the World and the Mail on Sunday/Daily Mail are pillorying Jonathan Ross again. No surprise there then. Trouble is, this time, they’re getting their knickers in a twist over nothing. Ross and his producer, Andy Davies (and how Davies, who comes across as a fairly decent bloke, puts up with this mediocre, unfunny prick every week is beyond me), did a brief back-and-forth about the possibility of shagging an 80-year-old woman. I didn’t hear it, but it sounds crass and unfunny rather than fuel for the rabid response from the NotW and the Mail.

The NotW and the Mail on Sunday claim that the “joke” was about a real 80-year-old Alzheimer’s sufferer. There is not the slightest evidence, from anything I’ve read in the sane, non-tabloid world, that this claim is even remotely true, as this extract from the  Telegraph makes clear. (You can read the full article here )

A spokesman for the BBC said “This light-hearted exchange contained no offensive language, named no individuals and there was clearly no intention to offend anyone.

“Nothing broadcast by the BBC was linked to a specific individual or would allow the public to link these comments to an individual.”

Andy Davies issued a statement denying that the joke in the show referred to a real individual.

“The story was poetic licence based on the warm and affectionate behaviour experienced in Spanish village life. I did not identify an individual because there isn’t one,” he said.

In a statement, Ross said: “It was a spontaneous, light-hearted remark made in response to an anecdote set in Spain, where no-one was named or ever likely to hear the broadcast.

“As far as I was concerned, the story may even have been apocryphal or exaggerated for comedic purposes, as is common practice on radio and comedy shows around the country.

“Absolutely no offence to any individual was intended and, if the media wasn’t hell bent on stirring up controversy, I’m sure none would be taken.”

Nothing there I would have had a problem with, had I heard it, and I have to agree with Ross’s final sentence, above.

These days I neither listen to Ross, or watch his TV show, though I used to catch both regularly – his humour is lazy, puerile, and just generally shit, and yes, it’s frequently offensive (telling Gwyneth Paltrow – or any other woman – that he’d like to fuck her, on prime-time television, is way beyond what’s acceptable). Not this time, though.

The problem I do have, this time, is the timing. Shortly 10.00 on a Saturday morning, when young children are likely to be listening, is an entirely inappropriate time for this sort of piss-poor joke.

The big problem with Ross, as far as I can see, is that he has no internal filter – he just says whatever comes into his head, with no regard for any possible consequences – typified perfectly by the Sachs affair. I still find it hard to believe that anyone in their right mind ever thought that was appropriate – I can only think that the production and editorial staff were afraid to stand up to Ross and Brand. I read at the time that the BBC has a history of backing the “talent” rather than those hired to control them, so perhaps that really was the case.

Rightly or wrongly (and given what he’s paid, I’d be inclined to go with rightly – for £6 million a year we deserve more than prurient and puerile  locker-room humour and blatant sexual harassment, not to mention all-round, gob-smacking stupidity), Ross has become a public whipping-boy, and a liability for the BBC, and a target for the pathetic psychos at the Mail and NotW who are all too eager  to be offended, even when there’s nothing, as in this instance, to be offended by (as some readers on the NotW’s website made abundantly clear), and tacking on a blatant lie to ramp up the “offence” (claiming is was a real old woman), is frankly criminal . While Ross will probably carry on to the end of his current contract (it may well be too expensive to terminate it), the BBC would be making a rod for its own back if they chose to renew it.

Perhaps the best place for Ross – it would provide a startling reality check for him, I think – is on a pay-per-view show on a digital channel, That way he’d quickly come to realise his own worth, and anyone who then claims to be offended deserves to be, because they made the decision to pay to see/hear Ross, rather than stumbled upon him by accident

I find it worrying, though, that the eternally sex-obsessed NotW is taking the moral high ground here, in a move that is way beyond parody, and that the Mail – an absolute over-flowing cess-pit of a newspaper, deeply obsessed with the cellulite and flabby tits of d-list celebs, is setting itself up as the nation’s moral guardian. Personally, I wouldn’t trust these hypocritical chancers to guard a car-park.

Hell, it was bad enough when one rather strange and obsessive woman decided that was her destiny (Mary Whitehouse, of course – and the sex she was always bitching about was, oddly, never on my TV!), but now we have battalions of  buggers deciding it’s their job to protect the nation’s sensitivities. The question is, who protects us from the intellectual black hole that these people – the Daily Mail readership – represent?

Here’s a thought – on one of his Saturday morning shows, Ross said that if a ship he was on sank, he’d be hard pressed to justify his place in a lifeboat. I emailed saying that he sold himself short, and he was the perfect person to be in a lifeboat. Someone, after all, has to be available to toss over the side to lighten the load.  Oddly, it never made it onto the air…