KATIE HIND asks… Why ARE television chiefs so in thrall to the crass and sexist Jonathan Ross? 

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Jonathan Ross has been criticised for engaging in obscene on-screen banter with a female comedian about her sex life. 

His suggestive comments came after Canadian-born comic Katherine Ryan delivered a stand-up routine in which she shared intimate details of her relationship on his New Year’s Eve ITV show.

Ryan told the audience: ‘We’ve only been married a short time but I still s*** my husband off – enthusiastically.’

After her performance, Ross, 62, sniggered as he repeated the line back to her: ‘I’d still s*** him off enthusiastically…’

KATIE HIND asks… Why ARE television chiefs so in thrall to the crass and sexist Jonathan Ross? 

Although Jonathan Ross’s New Year Comedy Special aired after the 9pm watershed, many children will have been watching, having been allowed to stay up late by their parents to see in the New Year

Ryan told the New Year's Eve audience: ¿We¿ve only been married a short time but I still s*** my husband off ¿ enthusiastically'

Ryan told the New Year’s Eve audience: ‘We’ve only been married a short time but I still s*** my husband off – enthusiastically’

At another point, Ryan spoke of how her husband would abandon her to play golf, saying: ‘I haven’t got 18 holes – just three.’

The 39-year-old is known for sharing lewd anecdotes on the comedy circuit, and didn’t hold back, despite being on mainstream TV. 

Although Jonathan Ross’s New Year Comedy Special aired after the 9pm watershed, many children will have been watching, having been allowed to stay up late by their parents to see in the New Year.

There was a swift backlash from viewers appalled by the programme. On social media, people commented that it was ‘as funny as a cot death’ and ‘the worst comedy show ever’ – and suggested that ‘nothing speaks more to the decline of television’.

Others were left wondering why TV chiefs still allow Ross to litter his shows with gross comments.

The presenter was suspended by the BBC in 2008 following a national outcry over the so-called ‘Sachsgate’ affair. 

He had appeared on Russell Brand’s Radio 2 show and the pair left crude messages on the answerphone of Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs, then 78, including degrading sexual jibes about his granddaughter and ‘jokes’ about her menstrual cycle – all broadcast to the nation.

After Ross’s BBC contract ended, ITV rescued him from the doldrums, giving him a late-night talk show. 

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And his New Year’s Eve comedy special was recorded in mid-December, so the producers would have had plenty of time to edit Ross’s sordid exchange with Ryan.

Despite his reputation for lewd comments, ITV has given Ross a high-profile judges¿ role on one of its biggest family programmes, The Masked Singer

Despite his reputation for lewd comments, ITV has given Ross a high-profile judges’ role on one of its biggest family programmes, The Masked Singer

However, ITV sources say bosses are ‘in thrall’ to Ross and note that the show is made by the Hotsauce production company run by Ross and his wife Jane, along with their in-house business, ITV Studios.

Insiders say ITV is acutely aware of the battle between Ross and his BBC rival Graham Norton to win most viewers. 

It is widely recognised that Norton has starrier guests and some admit that Ross’s habit of ‘talking dirty’ to celebrities deters A-listers from joining him.

Notably, on New Year’s Eve, while Ross’s guests included Ryan, Loose Women panellist Judi Love and comedian Bill Bailey, Norton secured Hollywood royalty Olivia Colman and Hugh Laurie.

Despite his reputation for lewd comments, ITV has given Ross a high-profile judges’ role on one of its biggest family programmes, The Masked Singer, which launched its fourth series last weekend.

Following Sachsgate, a story broken by The Mail on Sunday, Brand vanished from mainstream TV. 

Insiders say ITV is acutely aware of the battle between Ross and his BBC rival Graham Norton to win most viewers

Insiders say ITV is acutely aware of the battle between Ross and his BBC rival Graham Norton to win most viewers

Egged on by Ross, Brand bragged on air about having sex with actor Andrew Sachs¿s granddaughter Georgina Baillie

Egged on by Ross, Brand bragged on air about having sex with actor Andrew Sachs’s granddaughter Georgina Baillie

Egged on by Ross, he had bragged on air about having sex with Sachs’s granddaughter Georgina Baillie.

At the time, she said the broadcast ‘could permanently damage my life’ while Sachs, who died in 2016, said: ‘Their lewd banter was deeply hurtful… It not only caused pain but huge stress to the family.’

He blamed Ross more than Brand, believing that as a father of two daughters (as well as a son) he should have known better. 

Following the public outcry, broadcast regulator Ofcom fined the BBC £150,000.

Both Brand and Radio 2’s controller, Lesley Douglas, resigned over the incident.

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Ross – at the time the public sector’s best-paid figure, on £6 million a year – was suspended for three months before returning, although he was criticised for being insufficiently contrite when he promised to be ‘more aware’ of offending viewers.

His second chance was short-lived. In 2010, his show Tonight With Jonathan Ross ended.

But while Brand has slipped away from mainstream broadcasting, Ross has been granted an indulgent rehabilitation with ITV, where he has continued to peddle his cheap formula of sexually offensive material. 

His catalogue of on-air controversies includes asking then Tory leader David Cameron whether he had ever masturbated when he thought of Margaret Thatcher; speculating about the taste of a racehorse’s semen; asking Tom Cruise if he broke wind in bed with his wife; and telling a distressed Gwyneth Paltrow that she was a milf, explaining that it stood for ‘Mother I’d Like To F***’.

Last year, Ross criticised Radio 2 for becoming ‘risk-averse’ and ‘dull’, having introduced more safeguards following the Sachsgate incident. 

ITV, by contrast, appears happy to take risks with Ross, even if in other areas the broadcaster slavishly follows a woke agenda. 

ITV¿s chief Carolyn McCall has presided over a drive to promote female staff and hire more from ethnic minorities

ITV’s chief Carolyn McCall has presided over a drive to promote female staff and hire more from ethnic minorities

But perhaps executives’ love of Ross betrays the truth that many TV bosses represent an arrogant London-based elite out of touch with the attitudes of viewers across the country. Certainly, advertisers who fund ITV do not like offensive programmes.

ITV’s chief Carolyn McCall has presided over a drive to promote female staff and hire more from ethnic minorities. 

Alert to campaigns such the Black Lives Matter movement, she was also responsible for Piers Morgan quitting Good Morning Britain after she told him to apologise to Meghan Markle after saying on air that he didn’t believe her when she said she had experienced suicidal thoughts.

McCall also oversaw the launch of a series of ‘woke’ self-care classes for staff, as well as networking groups including one to support and empower women.

It is interesting, too, that many comedians are Left-wing and that there seems to be a revolving jobs door between Left-leaning newspapers and TV companies. 

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McCall was previously the boss at Guardian Newspapers, and Channel 4’s chief content officer Ian Katz was the Guardian’s deputy editor. 

His channel also regularly employs Ross as a panellist on comedy shows.

Of course, comedy is cutting-edge, and an ITV spokeswoman said: ‘Jonathan’s New Year’s Eve show saw well-known comedians perform their own stand-up routines in a post-watershed slot. We received no complaints regarding the episode.’

But why are countless comics given a free pass by TV producers to mouth sexually offensive and misogynistic material? 

For example Jimmy Carr, who was mired in a tax-avoidance scandal, regularly appears, despite making insulting comments about people with Down’s syndrome and ‘joking’ about the horrors of the Holocaust.

Ryan talks freely about sex during her stand-up shows. While this may be seen as a triumph for female empowerment, breaking male comics¿ monopoly on sexual crudeness, others wonder if feminism has faltered if it simply means men lauding women for making offensive jokes about oral sex and genitalia

Ryan talks freely about sex during her stand-up shows. While this may be seen as a triumph for female empowerment, breaking male comics’ monopoly on sexual crudeness, others wonder if feminism has faltered if it simply means men lauding women for making offensive jokes about oral sex and genitalia

Last year, Ryan, who is young enough to be Ross’s daughter, told how she had ‘called out’ a man working in the entertainment industry – not Ross – labelling him a ‘predator’ to his face. 

She talks freely about sex during her stand-up shows. While this may be seen as a triumph for female empowerment, breaking male comics’ monopoly on sexual crudeness, others wonder if feminism has faltered if it simply means men lauding women for making offensive jokes about oral sex and genitalia.

Although the crass and misogynistic days of lads’ mags are long gone and Russell Brand is now ostracised by the mainstream media, Jonathan Ross and his brand of gross sexual banter are indulged unquestioningly by TV bosses.

Once, the justification for giving him his own show was that the presenter who can’t pronounce his ‘Rs’ was edgy and ‘incowwigible’. 

Now, though, he merely stands as a conspicuous symbol of TV producers’ poor taste, absence of a moral barometer and lack of empathy with their viewers.

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