The BBC is playing “scandal whac-a-mole” as its boss Tim Davie faces overwhelming pressure to tackle the organisation’s “culture of turning a blind eye” to the behaviour of its so-called “presenter Gods”.
Mr Davie has been hit by several scandals over the last 18 months, involving the likes of Huw Edwards, which some suggest point to a broader problem at the organisation.
Russell Brand’s alleged conduct at the BBC between 2006 and 2008 – which went largely uninhibited – suggests that managers at the organisation tolerate misbehaving and powerful media talent, reports the Times.
Liz Kershaw wrote in the Telegraph last week that the “management culture” at the organisation while Brand worked at Radio 2 and 6 Music, allowed him to “indulge in narcissistic and reckless behaviour”.
She claimed Brand’s alleged behaviour left “behind him a trail of ruined careers and shattered lives”.
Four women accused Brand of sexual assault between 2006 and 2013, including a woman who claims he raped her in 2012.
There are also a number of other reports about Brand’s lewd behaviour, including an incident in May 2007 – while he was working at Radio 2. Brand allegedly offered to send his assistant – naked – to see Jimmy Savile, five years before that presenter’s heinous crimes were revealed.
One former BBC manager, Lesley Douglas, is in hot water over her management of Brand when she was his Radio 2 controller from 2004 to 2008. Ms Douglas quit the organisation in the wake of the “Sachgate” scandal.
The Times reports that a BBC insider claims she “enabled” some of his antics. Douglas even allegedly shrugged off complaints against Brand.
Talking about Brand’s radio show, a 6 Music source reportedly said: “It soon became apparent that the show was going to be whatever Russell wanted it to be,
“Russell didn’t want a playlist. His catchphrase off-air was ‘Lesley says I can play what I like’. So you’d have a bizarre selection of music for a Sunday show and we’d be lucky to get five songs in an hour when you’d normally get nearer a dozen as there was so much chat.”
In December 2007, under Douglas’ watch, a complaint was allegedly made about Brand’s behaviour to the studio after an “alarming display of aggression and disrespect”. Brand allegedly hurled objects during a fit of rage. He also urinated in a bottle in front of production staff and a guest who was invited on Radio 2 by a charity.
This alleged complaint was not referenced in official reports into Sachsgate and Douglas allegedly appears not to have acted in response to the complaint, the Times reported.
According to the Times, one BBC source said: “Lesley Douglas enabled him. She must have known [Brand] was a firework.
“She should have made sure that he had a producer who could have controlled him at least a bit and that all of his programmes were pre-recorded — they should never have gone out live as they were too incendiary.” The comments were made despite Brand’s most controversial Sachgate episode being pre-recorded.