In Depth

Nigel Farage vs Russell Brand: which Question Time panellist has offended more people?

Farage and Brand have each angered large swathes of society. Now the two masters of mayhem go head to head

Image removed. Image removed.Tonight Nigel Farage and Russell Brand will appear side-by-side on the BBC's Question Time panel.

Viewers of a sensitive disposition may wish to look away. Members of the BBC Trust should leave the country.

For while the Ukip leader and the controversial left wing comedian have little else in common, both have managed to anger, irritate or dismiss large sections of the British population, and plenty of others besides.

But who has more to prove in tonight’s debate? Which of these politically contrary figures will offend more people? And will the rest of the panel be able to get a word in edgeways?

Farage vs Brand: round one

Despite approaching politics from opposite ends of the spectrum, Russell Brand and Nigel Farage have forged some common ground. Both have managed to offend:


Last week Farage waded into the breastfeeding debate by suggesting that women who do it in public should not be so "openly ostentatious" and should "sit in the corner", angering mothers and campaigners across the political divide.

Feminist campaigners have long had issue with Brand's treatment and objectification of women, and the comedian himself has admitted to sexism in the past. In 2011, women's rights groups were outraged when he prank called a rape hotline live on stage at a comedy gig, The Independent reports.

Potential scale of offence: 32,153,000 women in Britain, according to the Census

Running totals:Brand: 32,153,000Farage: 32,153,000

Jewish people

Both Farage and Brand have run into trouble with Nazi salutes. Last year, Farage defended a candidate who was pictured giving what appeared to be a Nazi salute. The leader said he believed the explanation that the man in question was "imitating a pot plant", the Daily Mail reports.

Meanwhile, Brand was kicked out of the GQ Man of the Year awards last year after giving a Nazi salute during his acceptance speech. He made the gesture after saying that the event's sponsor Hugo Boss had made the Nazi's uniforms, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Potential scale of offence: 269,568 British Jews, according to the Census

Brand: 32,422,568Farage: 32,422,568


Both men have had several altercations with journalists. Most recently, Brand risked being banned from Twitter after tweeting a Daily Mail journalist's contact details to his 8.7 million followers. Last week he lost his temper at a Channel 4 reporter who asked him about how much rent he paid, calling him a "snide".

In April, an article in The Times raised questions about how Farage had spent his European Parliament allowances, prompting the Ukip leader to draw up a "hit list" of Times journalists it said were writing negative stories about the party to help David Cameron, the Huffington Post reports.

Potential scale of offence: 70,000 journalists in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics

Brand: 32,492,568Farage: 32,492,568


Brand expresses a vehement hatred for politics, calling for a complete overhaul of the current political system. He describes politicians as "treacherous, deceitful liars" and compares shaking Chancellor George Osborne's hand to "sliding my hand into a dilated cow".

Farage and the rise of Ukip has ruffled feathers across all major political parties. In one altercation, he accused former SNP leader Alex Salmond of "inciting riots" and hatred towards the English in the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Potential scale of offence: 650 MPs

Brand: 32,493,218Farage: 32,493,218

Farage vs Brand: round two

With the two (obviously) neck and neck after their tandem efforts in round one, it's time to turn the spotlight on their individual abilities. First up: Russell Brand.

Disabled people

At a stand-up gig in 2011, Brand offended disabled people after poking fun at athletes with disabilities. After criticising the Olympics, Brand went on to say that "at least the Paralympics have some kind of novelty value," the Brighton Argus reports. The charity Disability Alliance said that while the comment "may have been tongue-in-cheek, it was offensive".

Potential scale of offence: 11,600,000 people with disabilities in the UK, according to the Department for Work and Pensions

Brand: 44,093,218Farage: 32,493,218

Gay people

Gay rights campaigners were outraged when Brand told Cambridge University students to "shut up, you Harry Potter poofs". The university's LGBT group said the use of the anti-gay slur, even as a joke, was "unacceptable".

Potential scale of offence: 820,000 people identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or "other" at the last Census

Brand: 44,913,218Farage: 32,493,218


The day after the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers, Brand arrived at work at MTV dressed as Osama bin Laden, having somewhat misjudged the mood. Americans – and many others – were outraged and Brand was dismissed two days later.

Potential scale of offence: 319,407,248 Americans, according to the US census

Brand: 364,320,466Farage: 32,493,218

Andrew Sachs

In 2008, Russell Brand and fellow comedian Jonathan Ross used their BBC show to make prank calls to Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs. In the calls, the pair left lewd messages on his answering machine, with Ross telling the actor that Brand had had sex with his granddaughter Georgina Baillie. The BBC received more than 40,000 complaints about the show and Brand was sacked.

Potential scale of offence: 1 actor

Brand: 364,320,467Farage: 32,493,218

Rod Stewart

In a similar incident in 2006, Brand got into an altercation with musician Rod Stewart after claiming he "had a go" with his daughter Kimberly. When confronted, Brand admitted he hadn't touched her, to which Stewart replied: "F***ing right you didn't. You mustn't come up here and boast. I speak here as a father."

Potential scale of offence: 1 singer

Brand: 364,320,468Farage: 32,493,218

His own allies

Last month Brand faced criticism from fellow protesters in the anti-capitalist movement who labelled him a "Champagne socialist" for leaving Guy Fawkes protests to attend a party in the West End. One said: "Russell Brand loves a revolution but then leaves demonstration early to go to a celeb freebie party", the Daily Mail reports.

Potential scale of offence: 2,500 people at the Million Mask March

Brand: 364,322,968Farage: 32,493,218

Farage vs Brand: round three

Having established a lead of almost a third of a billion people, Brand might be resting on his laurels. But Farage, pint in hand, is about to start speaking…


Ukip's immigration policies have angered migrants across the UK. This week Farage blamed a surge in immigration for the traffic on the M4 and his late arrival at an event in Wales. He is, however, happy to admit that immigration has improved the quality and variety of food in the UK.

Potential scale of offence: 7,505,000 foreign born British residents, according to the Census

Brand: 364,322,968Farage: 39,998,218

British Muslims

Farage has caused outrage among the Muslim community in the UK by blaming them for the sharp rise in anti-Semitism, and by calling for a ban on the burka, the full face veil worn by Muslim women. He has also repeatedly said that Britain is "terrified" of upsetting Muslims, the Huffington Post reports.

Potential scale of offence: 2,706,000 Muslims in Britain, according to the Census

Brand: 364,322,968Farage: 42,704,218

People with HIV

The Ukip leader was accused of "new levels of ignorance" after saying that people with HIV should not be allowed in the country. The Terrence Higgins Trust, the UK's leading HIV/Aids charity told The Guardian that Farage should be "truly ashamed" for showing "an outrageous lack of understanding" over such a sensitive issue.

Potential scale of offence: 98,400 people living with HIV in Britain, according to Avert

Brand: 364,322,968Farage: 42,802,618


With his plan to keep European migrants out of Britain, Farage has set himself against the entire non-British population of the EU (except, presumably, his German wife). European officials say that any sort of cap on migration would contravene EU law, and the German president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, told Yahoo News that "Nigel Farage offends me greatly" and called him a "danger to Europe".

Potential scale of offence: 443,108,346 people in the EU, not including the UK, according to Eurostat.

Brand: 364,322,968Farage: 485,910,964

Farage vs Brand: the result

After a sensational late surge, Nigel Farage has clinched victory with a grand total of nearly 486 million potential offendees. That leaves him tantalisingly close to the half-billion milestone which past form suggests he may surpass during his Question Time appearance.

For his part, Russell Brand will need to target large population groups if he is to stand any chance of overhauling Farage's lead. Hindus, for example, or the Chinese.


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