How Sachsgate scandal cost Russell Brand his Radio 2 job

Granddaughter of Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs reveals how she spiralled after scandal that eventually saw Russell Brand sacked from Radio 2

  • Georgina Baillie, now 38, said ‘Sachsgate was very hard and painful for me’ 
  • Brand apologised and paid for her rehab after she turned to drink and drugs 

Sachsgate was the 2008 scandal that cost Russell Brand his job at Radio 2 after he and fellow presenter Jonathan Ross left obscene messages on the answerphone of Fawlty Towers legend Andrew Sachs.

The esteemed actor – famous for playing bungling Spanish waiter Manuel in the 1970s comedy – was the grandfather of Georgina Baillie a dancer who Brand had slept with.

At the time Brand was 33 and Georgina – who was a dancer with a group called Satanic Sluts – was 23 and there was outcry after the messages were broadcast as part of his show.

Ms Baillie, now aged 38, told The Mirror her relationship with Brand was consensual but after the fling turned to drugs and alcohol after she was made the ‘butt of the joke’ in his comedy routine.

Brand would later apologise to Ms Baillie and paid for her rehab after he ‘knew his behaviour towards me was appalling’, she said.

‘After Sachsgate, Russell made millions of pounds doing a stand-up routine about it and that was very hard and painful for me – I was the butt of the joke, I was young and didn’t know how to process it and I turned to drink and drugs,’ she said.

Brand and Ross broadcasting before making an apology to actor Andrew Sachs on Brand's BBC Radio 2 show for leaving offensive messages on his answerphone

Russell Brand apologised to Georgina Baillie (pictured in 2008) in 2019 for what he had done and reportedly offered her thousands of pounds to get her back on track

Sachs did not speak to his granddaughter for eight years. Brand eventually wrote him a letter in 2014 - two years before he died - apologising for the 'stress, sadness and turbulence'

There was outcry when Brand and his Radio 2 co-host Jonathan Ross left obscene messages on Fawlty Towers star Andrew Sachs' phone bragging about bedding his granddaughter

The BBC received more than 40,000 complaints and Sachs said he was horrified at what the pair had done.

In total Brand and Ross left three messages on his answerphone making repeated and graphic claims about his granddaughter’s relationship – at one point Brand even asked if he could have his ‘permission’ to marry Georgina.

While in another Brand told Sachs:

‘But it was consensual and she wasn’t menstrual, it was consensual lovely sex.

‘It was full of respect I sent her a text, I’ve asked her to marry me, Andrew Sachs.’

Later on in the show, Ross then said that if people were offended by the prank calls they had made to Sachs they were ‘crazy’.

This week, four women have alleged sexual assaults occurred between 2006 and 2013, when Brand was working for BBC Radio 2 and Channel 4 as well as starring in Hollywood films.

The actor and comedian is also facing claims of controlling, abusive and predatory behaviour, following a joint investigation by The Sunday Times, The Times and Channel 4 Dispatches.

Ms Baillie says she was never attacked by Brand, but hopes ‘these alleged survivors get the help that they need’.

Ms Baillie, now aged 38, turned to drugs and alcohol after the fling. She is now a successful artist living with her mum in Bedford

‘As part of the 12-step programme, one of the steps is to personally address issues with people who have been harmed by you, but in Russell’s case, there are probably so f*****g many, it’s impossible,’ she added.

Brand and then controller of Radio 2 Lesley Douglas quit as a result while Ross was also suspended from broadcasting for three months, and there was a change in the way BBC output was vetted.

Both Brand and Ross apologised for their actions and later in October 2008, and in the same month the same BBC also apologised to Sachs.

In 2009, Ofcom also fined the BBC £150,000 over the phone calls, describing them as ‘gratuitously offensive, humiliating and demeaning’.

During an interview for BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in 2013 Brand claimed the scandal had erupted because he had become caught up in an anti-BBC ‘agenda’.

But he did reiterate his apology for the upset the incident caused, but suggested it was a ‘dishonest scandal’ because it was hijacked by those motivated by a bias against the corporation.

In 2014, two years before Sachs died, Brand wrote a letter of apology to him and said he was sorry for the ‘distress, sadness and turbulence’ caused.

He added:’I apologise for the damage I have caused to your family relationships and for robbing you of your peace of mind. This behaviour and the consequences you have suffered as a result of my actions are unacceptable.

‘This is not the man I want to be and I wholeheartedly apologise to you both.

‘I am sorry too that it has taken so long for me to write to you expressing this sentiment to which the two of you are entitled… please do not hesitate to contact me… My sincere apologies for the hurt I have caused you and your family.’

In 2019 he also apologised to Georgina for what he had done and reportedly offered her ‘thousands of pounds’ to get her back on track, after she revealed the incident had made her turn to drugs and she is now a successful artist living with her mum in Bedford.


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