Ross set for return to BBC

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The Independent Online

Friday Night With Jonathan Ross will return to the BBC on January 23 following the presenter's suspension over a prank phone.

The show was expected to return on this date and it has now been formally confirmed by the Corporation.

The guest line-up has not yet been revealed but the billing is expected to be available tomorrow, a spokeswoman for the BBC said.

Ross's Radio 2 show will be back on January 24 and Film 2009, also fronted by Ross, returns on January 26.

BBC1's flagship chat show Friday Night With Jonathan Ross is normally pre-recorded a day before broadcast.

A posting on the website Twitter, from "Wossy", said today: "Will let you know who is doing music on the show and guests nearer the date. Don't want to jinx things. 1st show already looking GREAT!"

Ross was suspended for 12 weeks without pay for his role in making lewd phone calls to Fawlty Towers star Sachs, costing Ross an estimated £1.5 million of his salary.

Ross and fellow DJ Russell Brand left messages on Sachs's answerphone claiming Brand had slept with Sachs's granddaughter, Georgina Baillie. The pair joked that Sachs might kill himself.

The comments were cleared for broadcast on Brand's Saturday night Radio 2 show on October 18.

The BBC was deluged with complaints and Brand resigned in the ensuing scandal, as did Radio 2 boss Lesley Douglas.

Ross's career suffered another blow when he stepped down as host of the British Comedy Awards.

He was reported to be pocketing £100,000 for the ceremony.

In December Ross was cleared to keep his £6 million-a-year BBC job, despite being involved in two offensive broadcasts criticised by the Corporation's governing body.

Repeated failures of editorial judgment allowed swearing and other obscene material to be aired in a series of TV and radio programmes, the BBC Trust said.

The Trust said the worst case was the episode of Radio 2's Russell Brand Show which included obscene messages left on Sachs's answerphone.

It also condemned an edition of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, in which the host said he would "f***" actress Gwyneth Paltrow if his wife permitted.

The Trust said there was no editorial justification for airing the messages left on Sachs's answerphone.

It described the decision to do so as an "unacceptable and deplorable intrusion" into the private lives of the actor and Miss Baillie.