BBC reviews Russell Brand’s time at corporation as YouTube demonetises content

BBC reviews Russell Brand’s time at corporation as YouTube demonetises content

The BBC has announced a review into Russell Brand’s time at the corporation amid the rape and sexual assault allegations made against the comedian.

The broadcaster also said on Tuesday that it was removing some content featuring the 48-year-old from its iPlayer and Sounds apps which “now falls below public expectations”.

An episode of comedy panel show QI and a Joe Wicks podcast, both featuring Brand as a guest, have been removed, the PA news agency understands.

YouTube had earlier announced that the Google-owned company has stopped Brand making money on its platform because he was “violating” its “creator responsibility policy”.

Brand has strongly denied the allegations, which also include claims of controlling, abusive and predatory behaviour.

A spokesperson for podcasting platform Acast confirmed to PA on Tuesday that advertisements were turned off “immediately” for Brand’s Under The Skin podcast following the allegations.

In a long-arranged Q and A with BBC staff on Tuesday, the corporation’s director general Tim Davie was quizzed about how it was responding following accusations about Brand’s time on BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 6 Music between 2006 and 2008.

The Times reported on Monday that a woman claims Brand used the BBC’s car service to pick her up from school when she was 16 so she could visit his home.

Mr Davie said he hopes a review, led by BBC’s director of editorial complaints Peter Johnston, will give an “initial report in weeks, not months” and added that “the objective is to be totally transparent”.

He also said: “The review will also look at the position regarding any cars used by the BBC at that time – because that was obviously something that, again, in a powerful testimony, was mentioned.”

BBC presenter explicit photos allegations
BBC director-general Tim Davie has announced a review into Brand’s time at the BBC (Jacob King/PA)

The news comes after the remaining shows of Brand’s Bipolarisation tour were postponed and the Metropolitan Police said it had received a report of an alleged sexual assault in the wake of media allegations.

According to Companies House, Brand on Tuesday resigned as a director of both performing arts business One Arm Bandit and filming company Mayfair Film Partnership.

Mr Davie has said the broadcasting industry needs to be “very vigilant” following questions being raised about the wider TV industry – which he also said had “faced significant” power imbalance issues in the past.

It comes as the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee chairwoman Dame Caroline Dinenage has written to the BBC, Channel 4 and TikTok to request further details on what actions they are taking in response to the allegations – and to GB News in relation to their coverage of the claims.

The letters also requested updates on the investigation being conducted by Banijay UK, which bought Endemol, the company commissioned by Channel 4 to produce the Big Brother spin-off shows Brand hosted, into his behaviour while he was working on its programmes.

Mr Davie also said: “I do think we’re in a different place, over 15 years. When I listened back, frankly, to some of those broadcasts I think, that is just completely unacceptable. What led to that being on air?

“I just look at that stuff and I say there is no way I will listen to that, there’s no way I accept it. We have to be clear about that together, that we will not accept that.”

Russell Brand’s Trickster Tales – London
Russell Brand at the Royal Albert Hall (Ian West/PA)

Brand has been accused of rape, assault and emotional abuse between 2006 and 2013, when he was at the height of his fame and working for the BBC, Channel 4 and starring in Hollywood films, following a joint investigation by The Times, Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches.

In the documentary, footage was shown of the actor making comments about female BBC staff on his radio show.

Brand’s YouTube account, which has 6.6 million subscribers, has been suspended from YouTube’s Partner account “following serious allegations against the creator”, meaning the channel is no longer able to make money from advertising on the platform.

In a statement, YouTube said the decision applied to all channels that may be “owned or operated” by Brand, adding: “If a creator’s off-platform behaviour harms our users, employees or ecosystem, we take action to protect the community.”

Brand still has a presence on video platform Rumble, where his channel has 1.4 million followers and he hosts a weekly live show at 5pm BST, but there was no new episode on Monday.

He also failed to appear at the regular slot on Tuesday evening.

His most recent video on Rumble is the short clip from Friday denying the allegations and saying he has been “promiscuous” but that all of his relationships have been “consensual”.

UK Parliament portraits
Dame Caroline Dinenage (Richard Townshend/UK Parliament)

Dame Caroline has asked TikTok’s director of government relations, Theo Bertram, whether Brand could monetise his posts on the video sharing platform, where he has 2.3 million followers.

The committee chairwoman also asked “what the platform is doing to ensure that creators are not able to use the platform to undermine the welfare of victims of inappropriate and potentially illegal behaviour”.

Dame Caroline also wrote to GB News chief executive Angelos Frangopoulos over presenter Beverley Turner supporting Brand in a tweet over the weekend and defending him on her show on Monday morning.

She acknowledged Turner was challenged on the programme but remained “concerned that having a presenter so clearly supporting an individual who is the subject of intense media coverage, including seeking their appearance on the show, undermines any perception of due impartiality in the broadcasting”.