BBC under pressure after another Ross sex joke

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The Independent Online

The BBC was under pressure to take fresh action against Jonathan Ross today after the family of an 86-year-old Alzheimer's sufferer condemned his "unforgivable" sex joke.



The presenter sparked the new controversy on his return from a 12-week suspension for broadcasting lewd messages with comedian Russell Brand on BBC's Radio 2.



After colleague Andy Davies mentioned on air that an elderly woman kept kissing and cuddling him while he was carrying out jobs at his Spanish home, Ross joked: "I think you should just, for charity, give her one last night. One last night before the grave. Would it kill you?"



The comments provoked anger from the son of Francisca Guzman, who said the joke was aimed at his frail mother, who has suffered dementia for three years.



Calling for Ross to be sacked, Jose Maria Moreno, 44, told The Sun: "What he said is unforgivable and offensive. I don't understand how he can continue working for an organisation like the BBC.



"My mother is very old and has Alzheimer's, which has led to serious mental health problems. This is not a suitable topic for comedy."



Ms Guzman was not named during the broadcast but lives near Mr Davies in the village of Conchar, near Granada.



The BBC, which had recorded 25 complaints by this morning, previously said there was "clearly no intention to offend anyone".



The corporation insisted there was no link to any specific individual and that the joke was part of a light-hearted exchange.



A BBC spokesman said: "Andy Davies has made it clear to us that he was not talking about any one individual, but was using poetic licence to tell a story.



"Nothing broadcast by the BBC would allow the public to link the story to one individual because there wasn't one."



Mr Davies himself issued a statement denying that the joke in the show referred to a real individual.



"The story was poetic licence based on the warm and affectionate behaviour experienced in Spanish village life. I did not identify an individual because there isn't one," he said.



In a statement issued to the News of the World, Ross said: "It was a spontaneous, light-hearted remark made in response to an anecdote set in Spain, where no-one was named or ever likely to hear the broadcast.



"As far as I was concerned, the story may even have been apocryphal or exaggerated for comedic purposes, as is common practice on radio and comedy shows around the country.



"Absolutely no offence to any individual was intended and, if the media wasn't hell bent on stirring up controversy, I'm sure none would be taken."



But Conservative MP David Davies called for Ross to be replaced while former Home Secretary David Blunkett called for Ross to donate some of his pay to charity.

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