And that is the truly revealing thing about the whole episode: the way in which successive tiers of BBC managers baulked when asked to condemn the broadcast. They just couldn't do it. To most outsiders, it seemed a pretty open and shut case; the phone call was beyond - far, far beyond - anything acceptable as harmless fun. You'd have thought it was not asking a lot to get some panjandrum somewhere along the command chain to have the cojones to say it was wrong, plain and simple. But then that underestimates the decadence of the current BBC. One experienced interviewer, Brian Hanrahan, quizzing a politician about the affair, began his question: "Everyone in the BBC says it's a one-off affair..." Perhaps they do think that but, if so, they haven't been listening or, if they have, they must be inured to degenerate humour to a remarkable degree.
Your correspondent, quite by chance, happened upon the Russell Brand show one evening before all this happened. I was channel-hopping in the car - Radio Four, a boring drama, 5Live, a football phone-in, on Three Bartok was stinking up the airwaves, so I turned on Radio Two. Brand and Ross were jesting away. I'm not claiming word-for-word accuracy here, but you'll get the gist. Jester One: "My mother gave me an orange to help me learn about cunnilingus. And it started squirting juice!" Jester Two: "That's when you know you've done it right!" I was actually shocked: having worked in newsrooms all my life, I've hardly led a sheltered life, but I was astounded that such dirty badinage could be broadcast.
After all, broadcasting is different from private conversation. You must hold back because you don't know - can't know - who is listening. Under the "brilliant" Ms Douglas, that useful old safeguard seems to have been comprehensively junked.