The head of one of the BBC s adult-oriented music radio channel resigned Thursday in a row over offensive comments aired by two top presenters, the public broadcaster said.
Radio Two controller Lesley Douglas quit a day after the BBC suspended celebrity presenters Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand over a phone prank involving veteran actor Andrew Sachs.
It is a matter of the greatest possible sadness to me that a program on my network has been the cause of such a controversy, said Douglas in her resignation letter, released by the broadcaster.
I would like to take this opportunity to offer my personal apology to Andrew Sachs and his family and to the audience for what has happened.
The controversy was sparked by messages left by Ross and Brand on the answer phone of Sachs, 78, famed for his role as bumbling Spanish waiter Manuel in the hit 1970s TV comedy series Fawlty Towers.
The row escalated into a media and political storm – eclipsing Britain s sharp economic downturn, the broader global financial crisis and the US election from front pages and news bulletins.
Ross, 47, is the publicly-funded BBC s highest-paid star, with a three-year, £18 million ($29-million) contract that also saw him host a Friday late-night television talk show.
Brand, 33, who got his start in stand-up comedy, earns a reported £400,000 a year for his radio program. He starred as an oversexed rock star in the Hollywood rom-com Forgetting Sarah Marshall earlier this year.
Douglas s resignation was announced after BBC Director General Mark Thompson, belatedly back from holiday to deal with the storm, spent the day in talks with the BBC Trust, which oversees ethics and standards.
Brand already announced his resignation from his Radio Two show on Wednesday, while Ross issued a fulsome apology.
In the original pre-recorded broadcast on October 18, listeners heard a series of explicit exchanges including a claim by Ross that Brand had had sex with Sachs s granddaughter Georgina Baillie, 23, a burlesque performer.
The pair then discussed how Sachs might hang himself as a result, and how they could break into his house and perform a sex act on him by way of apology.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, wading into the furor as Britain entered its worst economic times in years, branded the pair s behavior inappropriate and unacceptable and backed an investigation as the number of public complaints topped 30,000.
The row is the latest in a string of embarrassments for the BBC, the world s biggest public broadcaster. In July it was fined £400,000 after a string of shows faked winners of their competitions. -AFP