Obligatory Manuelgate post

Andrew at Wongablog has the best take on this: it wasn’t a ‘prank call’ in the “we’ll call someone out of the blue and harass them” sense, there wasn’t any deliberate intent to offend Andrew Sachs – and the man is a holocaust survivor who’s most famous for a very funny and very offensive portrayal of an ethnic minority character in a very funny and very offensive comedy show, so is just about probably maybe big enough to cope with being targeted with lewd humour by a pair of DJs.

I accept the call shouldn’t have been broadcast, given that Andrew Sachs hadn’t cleared it and in fact proved to be offended by it. Bad BBC, slap on wrist, etc. But if you read the whole transcript rather than tabloid scare quotes, it is extremely funny.

The joke’s based on a classic piece of British humour: there’s a fact hanging over the conversation that the protagonists absolutely, totally know they shouldn’t talk about, develop an obsession with the fact as a result, end up blurting it out, try to apologise, but ultimately end up making things a million times worse by not being able to stop referencing the fact that they’re obsessed with. The end result is painfully cringeworthy, horribly inappropriate, and yet hilarious.

Now where have I heard that one before?

If this was a deliberate reference by Ross and Brand, then they are among the best comedians of a generation. If not, then the fates claim that title.

Update: have just been reminded of our man Wilde’s take on this kind of mass-moral-panic nonsense: “the British public is never so ridiculous as when engaged in one of its periodic fits of morality”. ‘Nuff said, pretty much.

Update 2: BBDO is the winner.

Update 3: Sorry, that was a lie, The Daily Mash is the winner.

Update 4: Russell Brand’s resignation speech is genuinely a masterpiece of class (especially where he makes the point that he’s held off making a public apology because it’s absolutely none of the public’s business – it’s between him, Ross, Sachs and Baillie – and he’s now making a public apology because he regrets the harm that he’s done to the BBC, rather than the offence caused to the idiots). This whole episode has increased my respect for Brand so much, although I still find his voice kind-of annoying….

16 thoughts on “Obligatory Manuelgate post

  1. True enough – but a crucial part of the comedy in both cases is that it ends in utter disaster for the central characters. The fact that this incident has now brought the entire country to a standstill is the punchline to the gag.

  2. Fairest assessment I've read. Quick question: I'm adding a link to you and I normally put which political party people are members of. Are you actually with a party or do you just hover on the fringes of polite society?

  3. I see you've been fighting the good fight on the B-BBC comments. Say not the struggle naught availeth, what ?

    (while I'm sure you've grasped that the Germans sketch involved paid actors – ie it was made up – while Wossys was a real call to a real person, you don't seem to think that's an important difference. I guess other people do.)

  4. Hover on fringes, pretty much. Voted Labour last Westminster time because Jeremy Corbyn is great; voted Lib Dem the time before because Beverly Hughes is awful. Would probably vote Tory if the alternatives were George Galloway, Charles Clark and Nick Griffin, but otherwise unlikely.

  5. because Jeremy Corbyn is great

    This means you must live somewhere near me.

    Meanwhile, the problem here is very simply a breach of the prime directive ("Don't be stupid, and don't be such a cunt about it").

  6. I did – was in Finsbury Park – now am not (my current MP is the only person mentioned on this thread to have appeared in Celebrity Big Brother, which was marginally less embarrassing than his political pronunciations).

  7. Brilliant analysis. The comparison with The Germans episode of FT is very perceptive. Ross and Brand were playing bumbling versions of their selves and that's what made it funny (and it was funny, as those who actually heard it the time rather than seeing 5 second clips on TV will know).
    While I like both of them, I realise that a lot of people don't get them at all and think they are overpaid knobs. Hence this whole storm in a teacup has become a popularity contest with the public literally voting them out with complaints about a programme they didn't hear.

  8. Given that Brand will continue to have a career in Hollywood, I am prepared to regard his radio show as acceptable "collateral damage" in the cause of getting rid of Ross, who I've always seen as a blight on the land.

    Sachs, I do not give a fuck about, because he could have avoided this whole situation simply by being in to pick up the phone when he said he would. I really hate people who are unreliable about calls like that.

  9. Ross is indeed an irritating and superfluous person. But, on the upside, this whole thing is probably a good sign for the economy, because I asked a bank economist a few weeks ago "how will we know when the crisis is over and things are back to normal, whatever the new 'normal' is?" and he said "when the financial crisis stops being on the front pages" and it's been Woss and Russel "Thinner And Less Funny Than, But With The Same Hair As, Jo" Brand every day this week.

  10. Alas, Ross is going to hang on in there for the money, 'cos he knows in the current climate ITV won't pay better.

    RB raised his stock with a surprising assortment of people by stepping down like he did. Fair play to him.

    As for the head of radio, once the BBC discovered that she'd heard the show before it was broadcast the can was well and truly in her lap.

    (and I think d2 is right, the original idea was that AS would take their call and he didn't, hence the 'improvisation'.)

    I must say it's tremendously entertaining to see so many people running round shouting 'why oh why', 'world's gone mad' and all the other phrases associated with my side of the political fence. Never in the field of human blogflict have so many fingers typed "Daily Mail" in anger.

  11. call it "improvisation"…I was listening to it in my car and it was ropey…the sort of thing that we would have got up to as a gang of schoolboys on a school-trip…was it of broadcastable quality? Obviously not. Who comes out of it worse? Ross – he was the one who said the most stupid and idiotic things. Why not just ask him to lie down in the middle of the M25 at rush-hour and make everyone happier?

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