Evans: Sachsgate created BBC red tape ‘nightmare’

Jun 3, 2011
Jonathan Harwood

Compliance culture at the Beeb is a ‘complete pain in the backside’

The many thousands of furious Daily Mail readers who laid into the BBC over the Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross 'Sachsgate' scandal may be surprised to hear that the net effect of their anger appears to have been to create yet another layer of bureaucracy at the corporation.

Chris Evans, the former enfant terrible of broadcasting who now presents the breakfast show on BBC Radio 2, told an audience at the Hay Festival: "Comedy has become much more sophisticated but the compliance culture that has come in since, you wouldn't believe it. The compliance department of the BBC is so extensive it's an unbelievable nightmare.

"Sometimes you come up with an idea and the compliance you have to go through is so great that you just say, 'Let's not bother'."

Perhaps surprisingly, given his reputation for pushing the boundaries of taste early in his career, the former Big Breakfast presenter said he felt Ross and Brand went too far with their prank phonecall to Andrew Sachs.

"What has happened since is very, very good but also a complete pain in the backside," he said. "Broadcasting had to change anyway because post 9pm, on every panel show on television and lots of radio stations, the language was all going one way. When you start low there's nowhere to go. It's like watching pornography - it's got to get more severe to get the same high. The laws of physics say that's a downward spiral."

But he revealed that the scandal, which ended Brand's career at the Beeb and led to the suspension of Ross, also had an effect on him. Evans was due to take over from Terry Wogan on Radio 2 soon after the affair, but the BBC put major programming changes "on hold" until the furore died down.

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