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Exclusive: BBC denies live radio ban on Jonathan Ross was caused by gay ‘joke’ controversy

Jessica Geen May 22, 2009
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A exclusive

The BBC has denied that complaints over a gay joke made by Jonathan Ross were the reason for axing his live Radio 2 show.

The announcement that the show would be pre-recorded came just a week after exclusively revealed that complaints had been received after he said boys who ask for a Hannah Montana MP3 should be adopted before they brought their gay partner home.

A BBC spokeswoman told that suggestions that executives decided to pre-record his shows following the gay adoption controversy were “factually incorrect”.

She said: “We’ve been discussing pre-recording the show for many months, before the gay joke.”

However, a source told the Sun: “BBC bosses are fed up chewing their fingernails to the quick every Saturday, worried about what he’s going to say. By recording the show the day before they can edit out anything they reckon could cause offence.”

The spokeswoman added: “Pre-recording Jonathan’s show enables us to ensure the programme is watertight in line with Compliance whilst attracting the best guests.

“It’s common practice to pre-record radio programmes and both Radio 2 and Jonathan are very happy with the plan as we’ve been discussing the matter for many months.”

Listener Karen Mills, who complained about the comments, told “How can these people earn such huge sums of public money to come out with this discriminatory rubbish? What would be the message to a young gay man listening to this? Worse still, how might such comments reinforce and support homophobic bullying in the playground?”

Today, an Ofcom spokesman said 56 complaints had been received to date but could not say whether an investigation would be carried out.

Ross later said he was “mortified” over suggestions he was homophobic.

Last year, he was suspended from the BBC for three months without pay after he and Russell Brand left obscene messages on the answerphone of Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs.

Although only two listeners complained to the BBC when the programme was broadcast, 30,000 members of the public complained after the story was picked up by the national media.

Last month,’s ‘gay tsar’ April Fool story said the BBC would be introducing a two-minute ‘gay delay’ to avoid presenters landing in hot water over homophobic comments.

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