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Nothing demonstrates contrition as emphatically as a resignation. So we should give credit to the comedian Russell Brand for bringing his relationship with the BBC to a sudden end yesterday.

The comedian had already apologised to Andrew Sachs for his obnoxious treatment of the elderly actor on his Radio 2 show. But words, though they can be hurtful, can also be cheap. Mr Brand has demonstrated that his regret is genuine by making a personal sacrifice to prove it (although we should not forget that he has lots of other commercial outlets for his talent).

Mr Brand also expressed the hope that his departure will ease the pressure on his fellow BBC broadcaster and partner in that distasteful episode, Jonathan Ross. That hope seems unlikely to be fulfilled. Mr Brand's decision to do the honourable thing will surely, instead, cause the public to wonder why the hugely well-rewarded Mr Ross does not follow his younger colleague's example.

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