Production company launches inquiry over allegations Russell Brand ‘used staff as pimps’

Former co-workers claim they were made to approach young women that Brand had singled out from the audience for sex

Holly Evans
Sunday 17 September 2023 14:59 BST
Russell Brand: James Cleverly says TV industry has ‘wider questions’ to answer after allegations

The production company behind a TV show fronted by Russell Brand has launched an urgent investigation after staff claimed they were made feel like “pimps” for the comedian.

The probe by Banijay UK comes after the former presenter and actor was accused of rape, sexual assault and the emotional abuse of four women during the height of his fame between 2006 and 2013.

The 48-year-old has vehemently denied the “very serious criminal allegations” uncovered in a joint investigation by The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches programme.

Banijay UK have launched an urgent internal investigation (John Stillwell/PA)

As part of that expose, staff who worked alongside Brand on Big Brother spin-off shows EFourum and Big Mouth during the mid-2000s claimed they were made to feel like “pimps” for him, as he used them to single out young women for sex in the audience.

One woman, who chose to remain anonymous, said: “Russell’s pointing out women that he found attractive in the audience, then getting the runners to get their details so that they could meet up after the show.

“I distinctly remember getting phone calls from women in tears the next day saying they’d met up with Russell. They were mainly upset because they just felt used.

“It was like we were taking lambs into slaughter. We were basically acting like pimps to Russell Brand’s needs.”

Brand’s former assistant claims he was always in his underwear around her

Another employee at the Channel 4 show accused Brand of flashing her in his dressing room and claimed his alleged behaviour was an “open secret” within the industry.

“Production companies enabled him to exist in these environments where he was able to take advantage of who he was,” she said.

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In a statement on Sunday, Banijay UK, which bought Endemol in 2020, said: “In light of the very serious allegations raised by Dispatches and The Times investigation relating to the alleged serious misconduct of Russell Brand while presenting shows produced by Endemol in 2004 and 2005, Banijay UK has launched an urgent internal investigation and will cooperate with any requests for information from broadcast partners and external agencies.

“We also encourage anybody who feels that they were affected by Brand’s behaviour while working on these productions to contact us in confidence.”

Russell Brand leaves the Troubabour Wembley Park theatre in north-west London last night (James Manning/PA)

The allegations form part of an investigation uncovering a raft of allegations from four women against Brand published and aired Saturday night.

One woman alleged she was raped by the presenter against a wall at his Hollywood home, while another claimed she was in a three-month abusive relationship with Brand while she was 16 years old. At the time of the alleged relationship, Brand had been 31 at the time.

The probe comes as Brand’s literary agent Tavistock Wood dropped him as a client after the allegations came to light.

In a statement, the agency confirmed it had been contacted about Brand’s alleged behaviour, which it said he had denied at the time.

“Russell Brand categorically and vehemently denied the allegation made in 2020, but we now believe we were horribly misled by him,” the company said. “TW has terminated all professional ties to Brand.”

Women’s charity cuts ties with Russell Brand after allegations of rape and abuse (Russell Brand/PA)

A charity supporting women who suffer from addiction and substance abuse also severed ties with the actor in light of the investigation.

Trevi Women said it was “deeply saddened” to hear of the allegations, and it would no longer be working alongside Brand and his Stay Free Foundation.

In a video released ahead of the reports being published, Brand denied the allegations and described them as a “a litany of extremely egregious and aggressive attacks” against him.

“These allegations pertain to the time when I was working in the mainstream, when I was in the newspapers all the time, when I was in the movies,” he said.

“As I’ve written about extensively in my books, I was very, very promiscuous. Now, during that time of promiscuity, the relationships I had were absolutely always consensual.”

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