Rarely can a story have exemplified the ability of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre to shamelessly exploit individuals – and his readers – in order to flog more papers and kick his enemies than the saga that became known as Sachsgate, the prank phone calls made by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to Andrew Sachs which were then broadcast on Ross’ Radio 2 show.
The affair has been thrust back into the spotlight today by the Daily Mail, and at first sight it may appear that Sachs has shared his insights with one of the paper’s hacks. He has not. But he does have a book out, and the Dacre doggies have ponied up the requisite amount of the folding stuff in order to obtain serialisation rights. No prizes for guessing which part they want to serialise first.
What is contained in today’s Mail spread – three pages of the print edition were dedicated to it, so in the world of Paul Dacre this means it is deemed roughly equivalent to the Winter Olympics, and more important than the continuing crisis in Syria – tells of the aftermath of the prank calls, when the media circus descended on the Sachs family. But one detail is missing.
And that is most fortunate for the Vagina Monologue, because to include it would not have looked well for him. The missing detail is this: after the broadcast, several days passed, and the BBC had received just two complaints about Ross and Brand’s antics. It was only after the Mail On Sunday went after the pair that the number increased. And it was only after Brand wound up Dacre that it got really serious.
Russell Brand had made reminding the Mail in general, and Dacre in particular, of the paper’s Nazi sympathies in the 1930s, and indeed the anti-Semitic nature of much of its copy at that time, into part of his act. So it was no surprise that Brand, while apologising to Sachs, threw in a Nazi equivalence. This got back to Dacre, who is believed to have gone even more ballistic than usual in response.
So the media circus was down not to the BBC, but the Mail’s saturation outrage, picked up by other papers with a similar agenda of kicking the Corporation. The idea that any of them might have gone easy in order to take the pressure off the Sachs family does not seem to have occurred to anyone – because, despite the faux concern splashed across the pages, they didn’t give a crap.
It’s the same with today’s Mail feature: if Dacre and his attack doggies cared about Sachs and his wife, they would not be plastering the story all over the paper. The media frenzy, the attention given to Ross and Brand’s remarks, the perceived slight to the Sachs family’s name, all are down in the most part to the obsession of Paul Dacre with the BBC, and his inability to come to terms with the Mail’s past.
Andrew Sachs is once again being used. Dacre doesn’t care. No change there.