October 27, 2008 / 6:20 PM / 10 years ago

BBC apologizes to actor over Russell Brand joke

LONDON (Reuters) - The BBC apologized on Monday to “Fawlty Towers” actor Andrew Sachs after well-known personalities Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross left a series of crude messages on his answerphone during a radio show.

British actor Russell Brand, a cast member in the film "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," arrives at the premiere of the film in Los Angeles April 10, 2008. REUTERS/Chris Pizzello

The Radio 2 presenters joked on-air that Brand had slept with Sachs’ grand-daughter and that he may kill himself after hearing their message earlier this month.

A BBC spokesman apologized to Sachs, 78, who played Spanish waiter Manuel in the classic comedy series, for the “unacceptable and offensive” comments.

“We are reviewing how this came about and are responding to Mr Sachs personally,” the spokesman said. “We also apologize to listeners for any offense caused.”

A recording of the messages was posted on the YouTube video-sharing website, www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7IHJ66wj9g

The pair said they decided to leave a message for the actor after he failed to come to the phone for an interview.

After making the quip about Sachs’ grand-daughter Georgina, Ross said: “I can’t help it. You were talking about it and it was in my head. I got excited, what can I say? It just came out.”

Brand burst out laughing and said: “I did not do nothing. Oh no, it’s a disaster, abort abort ... put the phone down. Code red, code red.”

They made more calls to the actor during the show, including one where Brand sang the words “I’d like to apologize for these terrible attacks, Andrew Sachs.”

In another, Brand said Sachs couldn’t come to the phone because he was “too busy thinking about killing myself.”

Sachs’s agent Meg Poole said the actor would be happy with a “satisfactory apology” from the BBC.

“He wasn’t very pleased with them as you can imagine and he found them quite upsetting,” she added. “But it’s not something he very much wanted to talk about.”

Ross, who also presents a television chatshow, and Brand are among the best known names on BBC radio.

Editing by Steve Addison and Paul Casciato

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