BBC DJ slams scandal-hit Ross’s return to Radio 2 as ‘a disgrace’

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THE return of Jonathan Ross to Radio 2 six years after the Sachsgate scandal has been branded “a disgrace” by a fellow BBC DJ.

Gordon Sparks wrote to the corporation’s online magazine, Ariel, complaining about the plan to put him back on air for a week of holiday cover for Steve Wright’s programme.

The DJ, who hosts a show on BBC Radio Devon, said: “What a disgrace it is that Jonathan Ross is to return to Radio 2, albeit as a stand-in. Following Sachsgate six years ago, it is my opinion that neither he nor Russell Brand should have received any further remuneration from the BBC.”

Mr Sparks, who is a familiar voice to Plymouth Argyle fans whose games he covers for the station, said the BBC “used to be the bearer of standards in the broadcasting industry”, and added: “One can only imagine the fuss that would be made if somebody at local level broke so many broadcasting regulations. They certainly wouldn’t be currently employed.”

Ross, who has since been given an ITV chat show, left the station mired in controversy when he appeared on his friend Brand’s show in 2008 and the pair were heard leaving lewd messages on the answerphone of veteran actor Andrew Sachs.

It prompted 42,000 complaints and led to the departure of senior BBC figures, including the station’s controller. Brand resigned and Ross was suspended from broadcasting his own Saturday morning show for three months, as well as his BBC One chat show.

Although Ross returned to Radio 2 when his ban was up, he left the BBC a year-and-a-half later.

He has appeared on a number of BBC programmes since, including recent slots on Don’t Make Me Laugh and Just a Minute on Radio 4, but his stand-in role for Wright from Tuesday to Friday next week will be his first presenting role on Radio 2 since his departure.

A BBC spokesman said: “Jonathan is returning for this one-off stint of holiday cover for Steve Wright. There are no plans to bring him back permanently.”