I like both Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross and want to jump to their defence over the Andrew Sachs affair and say why it’s good for the BBC brand.
When I was working at BBC Broadcasting and Presentation there was a lot of discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of the BBC brand image. I remember in one session we looked at a list of positive perceptions – you could trust the BBC, it was reliable, informative, high quality and so on. Then against each of these we recognised that there was a corresponding negative. As well as being excellent the BBC was also perceived to be dull, safe, slow, unwilling to take risks. They were two sides of the same coin, as they say.
The brand changes that took place as a result of these conversations were a turning point. The BBC ONE colours were changed from blue to red and RADIO TWO recruited stars who were known to be outspoken. Some years before I had been offered a news presenting contract at Radio Two but turned it down because at the time the station was so old fashioned and boring (I thought) – now just look at it!
The point I am making is that there are serious risks associated with being intelligent, reliable and trustworthy. For a broadcaster which has built a reputation on these qualities they are marching towards the death trap of being too safe. The likes of Brand and Ross are there to mitigate a greater risk. And so it may be that the BBC is the one place that really needs them.
While I can’t agree that making obscene phone calls was a good idea I can see that with Brand and Ross you get an honest voice – no spin, corporate lines or hidden agendas. For that I value them.
This is the video on the Radio Two web site!!