Russell Brand allegations show how ‘terrible behaviour towards women was tolerated’ in TV, says Channel 4 boss

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Channel 4’s chief executive has described the allegations made against Russell Brand as “horrendous” and said it is clear that “terrible behaviour towards women was historically tolerated” in the TV industry.

Alex Mahon made the comments about Brand as she addressed the Royal Television Society’s Cambridge Convention, scheduled before the allegations of sexual assault emerged at the weekend.

Some of the claims date back to when the comedian was presenting the Big Brother spin-off programme Big Brother’s Big Mouth on Channel 4.

Brand, 48, denies any allegations made against him.

Mahon told the audience at the convention that the alleged behaviour, made public in a joint investigation by The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches, needs to be looked into further.

She urged people with any information to get in touch anonymously if they want to.

“They’re not empty words or gestures,” she said, adding that the broadcaster will look to find out who knew what about any alleged inappropriate behaviour during Brand’s time on the show.

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BBC boss asked about Brand allegations

“But what is clear to me is that terrible behaviour towards women was historically tolerated in our industry, and the clips we’ve seen as well provide a rather shocking jolt when one realises what appeared on air not that long ago,” she said.

“The behaviour is less prevalent now, but it’s still a problem and it’s something that we must all confront. There is still more change that needs to come.”

She added: “The allegations made against Russell Brand are horrendous, and as a CEO of Channel 4 and as a woman in our industry.

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“I found the behaviours described in Dispatches and The Sunday Times and The Times articles disgusting and saddening.

“The allegations of course need to be followed up further and we and the BBC and Banijay are busy investigating.”

BBC and Channel 4 remove Brand content

Four women made sexual abuse allegations against the star between 2006 and 2013 as part of the investigation by The Sunday Times and Dispatches.

Brand, who denies the allegations, claimed in a video posted online on Friday night that all his relationships have been “consensual”.

The Metropolitan Police said it received an allegation of sexual assault against Russell Brand dating back to 2003 following the publication of the claims.

On Tuesday, BBC director general Tim Davie announced a review into Brand’s time at the corporation.

The announcement came hours after the broadcaster removed some of its content featuring Brand from iPlayer and BBC Sounds.

YouTube also suspended adverts on videos by Brand, while Channel 4 took down content featuring the comedian from its streaming service.

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TV exec: Brand allegations ‘depressing’

The Google-owned company said it had suspended the monetisation of Brand’s channel for “violating our Creator Responsibility policy”.

The comedian found fame in the early 2000s on the stand-up circuit and as a host of shows including Big Brother’s Big Mouth, before starring in Hollywood films such as Forgetting Sarah Marshall and presenting a show on BBC Radio 2.

However, in recent years, he has switched to wellness coaching and producing regular YouTube videos – from which he is thought to derive much of his income.

Brand maintains a presence on Rumble – a video site popular with some conservatives and far-right groups – where his channel has 1.4m followers and X, formerly known as Twitter, where he has more than 11m followers.

He has not posted on either since his video denial on Friday.

‘Pretty depressing’

It comes as a TV executive who worked at a company that hired Brand described the allegations against the star as “depressing”.

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Russell Brand denies ‘serious allegations’

Phil Edgar-Jones was creative director of Remarkable Pictures, part of Endemol UK, and oversaw Big Brother during its Channel 4 years.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “There was never any sense that he’d done anything inappropriate that was brought to our attention, certainly.

“We knew he had a reputation for being promiscuous – and everybody knew that at the time – but that’s as far as it went, as far as we knew.”

He added that the allegations were “pretty depressing”.

Mr Edgar-Jones, who is now director of Sky Arts and Entertainment, went on to stress that Remarkable Pictures would “100%” have acted if something was brought to its attention.

Removing YouTube earnings is ‘cancel culture’

Brand was at the centre of the so-called “Sachsgate” scandal in 2008, when he and TV presenter Jonathan Ross left lewd messages on the answerphone of Andrew Sachs, the late actor who starred in Fawlty Towers.

The voicemails had related to Sachs’s granddaughter Georgina Baillie, who had an on-off relationship with Brand in the 2000s.

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Evidence against Brand ‘compelling’

Speaking to The Politics Hub With Sophy Ridge, Baillie said that YouTube’s decision to suspend earnings from Brand’s channel amounted to “cancel culture”.

The 38-year-old actress went on to say that, even though she did not know all of the details surrounding the allegations, some of the evidence is “compelling”.

When asked about her thoughts about the claims, Baillie added: “I don’t know what happened there – I don’t know because I wasn’t there. He never did anything like that with me, everything was more than consensual, I promise.”

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