Radio 2 controller quits over Brand/Ross affair

Influential Radio 2 controller Lesley Douglas has resigned over the fiasco surrounding Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross.

Her resignation follows the BBC governing body meeting to discuss the telephone prank that saw both Brand and Ross suspended before the former decided to quit his radio show.

On Thursday evening Ms Douglas became the latest casualty of the affair, which BBC bosses hope will lessen pressure to take further action against Ross, the corporation’s highest-paid employee.

More than 30,000 complaints have now been received by the BBC over the radio presenters’ lewd voicemails to Fawlty Towers actor Sachs in which they joked about having sex with his granddaughter, Georgina Baillie.

In a letter written to BBC director general Mark Thompson, Ms Douglas said the last week had been “painful” for both the BBC and Radio 2.

She said her decision to resign, which was taken with enormous regret, was hers alone.

“The events of the last two weeks happened on my watch. I believe it is right that I take responsibility for what has happened,” she said.

“It is a matter of the greatest possible sadness to me that a programme on my network has been the cause of such a controversy.

“I would like to take this opportunity to offer my personal apology to Andrew Sachs and his family and to the audience for what has happened.”

In his reply, Mr Thompson said he accepted Ms Douglas’ resignation with “real sadness”, a feeling he said would be shared across the BBC and the music industry.

But Ms Douglas’ resignation may not be the end of the story, with inquiries underway from Ofcom, the BBC’s director of audio and music and the BBC Trust.

In a statement released on Wednesday evening, Brand said he accepted “full responsibility” for his actions.

“I have apologised to Andrew Sachs for the rude messages I left on October 18th and he has graciously accepted,” he said.

“As I only do the radio show to make people laugh I’ve decided that given the subsequent coverage I will stop doing the show.

“I got a bit caught up in the moment and forgot that at the core of the rude comments and silly songs were the real feelings of a beloved and brilliant comic actor and a very sweet and big hearted young woman.

“Apologies are also owed to the loyal listeners of the show who enjoyed its shambolic spirit and anarchy and will be upset that it cannot continue.”

And Ross said in a statement: “I am deeply sorry and greatly regret the upset and distress that my juvenile and thoughtless remarks on the Russell Brand show have caused.”