If you tune in to BBC Radio, you would certainly recognise these names. Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand are two of the most popular radio show personalities in the UK today. They can give you a really great show, which can help you chase the blues away on any given day.

It seems that this time, though, they took things a little too far and offended some people. As a result, they have been suspended by BBC, pending further action. The Guardian published this story earlier today:

The BBC today suspended Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand until an investigation into their prank calls to actor Andrew Sachs has been completed, in an attempt to quell the mounting furore over the “Sachsgate” affair.

Today’s suspensions almost certainly mean that BBC1’s Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, the presenter’s Saturday morning Radio 2 show, and Brand’s Saturday night show on the same station will not be broadcast this week.

The BBC director general, Mark Thompson – who is understood to currently be on holiday in Sicily – said he would return to London to review the situation, saying it was clear from the public’s reaction that Ross and Brand’s Radio 2 broadcast had caused “severe offence” – a view he shared.

Thompson described the calls to Sachs – in which Brand and Ross made lewd suggestions about the Fawlty Towers actor’s granddaughter, which were pre-recorded on Thursday October 16 and
broadcast on Brand’s Radio 2 show on Saturday October 18 – as “completely unacceptable”.

A public apology was given by Thompson but no official statement has been released by the duo. The question that is circulating now is this: Is the suspension a good enough penalty? Looking at the other side of the coin, though, is the suspension too harsh? What do you think?

Ever since Prime Minister Gordon Brown took office, he was hell bent on raising the consciousness of the British people on what it means to be British. I suppose that this is quite an understandable effort, especially if you look at other countries who have a distinct sense of nationalism. The Thai people, for example, are known for their openness, calmness, and always ready smile. The American people are known to be warriors of democracy. I know some would disagree with my descriptions but you know what I mean. National identity is something that is valued by some people. And I think Gordon Brown is one of them.

Personally, I do not see anything inherently wrong with his efforts. He merely wants to strengthen nationalism in Britain. The problem, as many experts have stressed over and over again, is that there is no clear answer as to what it means to be British! More so, in the midst of the recent hullabaloo about Britishness Day, many critics have railed that “public display of nationalism” goes against what it means to be British! What a quandary they are in…

So now, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has another idea shot down to the ground. Britishness Day is to be celebrated no more. What do other people in the government think? Shadow Justice Secretary Nick Herbert says: “Labour still hasn’t worked out that British identity is bound up in our institutions, culture and history. It can’t be re-manufactured by their spin doctors.”

So tell me, what do you think marks you as British? What makes you British?

Festivals are always fun and people come from far and near to join in the festivities. In Britain, though, one of the most popular kinds of festivals is the literary festival. This is the time when people from all walks of life can come together and steep themselves in books and ideas. Literary festivals have long been part of the academic culture of the British. In the past, these festivals tended to be small and scattered all over. Today, there are huge festivals that enjoy a wider audience.

One of these literary festivals is the Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, which is currently being held. It stared on the 10th of October and will end on the 19th. There are so many events that are part of this literary festival and even the “biggest” people in Britain took part – and are taking part – in them.

The Times Online reports today:

Last Friday, Gordon Brown and Ian Dawes both came to The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival. The Prime Minister arrived in a bulletproof car with outriders; Mr Dawes, a middle-aged man from York, brought his caravan; Mr Brown stayed for one hour and attended one event; Mr Dawes plans to stay for a week and has tickets for 17 events. But otherwise their intentions were identical: to plunge into books and the ferment of ideas surrounding them.

You and I may be nobodies as compared to Gordon Brown and Ian Dawes but at a literary festival, we can all be equals as we seek to immerse ourselves in the wonderful world of literature. See you there!

It’s not that they are not doing their jobs. It’s just that, according to the Police Federation, late night drinking puts undue strain on their resources. The Press Association just published a report on the point of view of the Police Federation, which is set to voice their concerns formally to the government. Here is part of that report:

The Police Federation will say that super pubs “are very difficult to secure and police effectively without a significant drain on police resources”.

The committee will also be told that one of the reasons why the Act has not succeeded in creating more responsible attitudes towards drinking is because of the cultural importance the British attach to alcohol.

The Police Federation will say: “The consumption of alcohol remains a fundamental part of most cultural aspects of British life and drinking to excess remains to be seen as laudable and to be encouraged by a significant proportion of the population.”

The federation will also call for an end to cheap alcohol on sale in pubs, clubs and supermarkets, which they say “encourages binge drinking and contributes to the persistence of alcohol abuse among the young and under age population”.

The statement that alcohol consumption really struck me – before, it was mostly foreigners who stated such things. If you remember, other prominent British personalities have said some similar things recently. If people from the same culture are taking note of the turn of events, I suppose that a change in mindset is really due. What do you think? Is this something that really needs to be addressed or are we acting too drastically?

What is the bonus culture anyway? Take a quick glance at the financial or business section of newspapers – whether online or offline – and you will quickly understand what it is. Big wigs in the commercial and banking industry normally receive huge remuneration packages in exchange for their services.

So what is wrong with this? Why shouldn’t people who work hard get what they deserve? I suppose the key words here are “work hard” and “deserve.” Now I have no doubt in my mind that many executives have worked their bums off to get where they are right now. They also probably work hard to maintain the position they are in – same thing applies to their company. However, does this kind of work warrant bonuses that reach millions and millions?

Bonus packages are normally associated with the American business culture but the UK is not exempt from this. In fact, Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently issued a statement against these kinds of bonuses. According to him, “the days of big bonuses are over.”

The Institute of Leadership & Management reports:

In an interview with GMTV, Gordon Brown stated that one of the conditions of government help for banks is reaching an agreement on remuneration packages for executives.

Although the majority of problems have been with the US system, there have also been “abuses” in the UK, Mr Brown claimed.

“Our economy is built around people who work hard, who show effort, who take responsible decisions, and [where] there is excessive and irresponsible risk-taking, that has got to be punished,” he said.

Mr Brown added that he is “angry” at what he dubbed “irresponsible behaviour”.

Recently, Lord Adair Turner, chairman of the Financial Authority Services (FSA), announced the body will also be looking at bonus payments made by banks.

Indeed, if things go the way Mr. Brown is planning, ordinary people just might benefit from this.

I am not sure if today’s kids know that much about Kate Moss. I do remember clearly, however, her being in the news all the time many years ago. What with her waiflike looks and her highly publicised personal struggles, her career was on a constant roller coaster ride.

Today, she has been once again brought to the limelight. This time, however, it is not her in person but a golden version – literally. LA Times Blogs has this feature on the “new Kate Moss:”

Sculptor Marc Quinn has unveiled a 50-kilogram (110-pound) gold statue of supermodel Kate Moss at the British Museum in London as part of its “Statuephilia” exhibition. The 18-carat sculpture, titled “Siren,” is worth an estimated 1.5 million British pounds, or $2.6 million. The artwork portrays the runway goddess in a bizarre yoga-like pose, her torso sticking through her lotus-shaped legs.

I have not had the chance to gaze upon the statue in person but pictures abound on the Internet and I have to say, the piece does catch one’s eye. I do not claim to be an art expert – far from it – but despite (or maybe because of it) the bizarre appearance of the figure, I cannot help but look at the statue again and again. I do not understand it, I cannot explain it, but I think I like the statue. That is not to say that I admire the model for the statue, though.

Your thoughts on this?