For decades, Michael Parkinson ruled the roost in the world of the British chat show. He was an avuncular, plain speaking Yorkshire man who flattered his guests and posed them no threat. And most of the big names came to have their egos massaged and to be asked soft questions. This state of affairs continued from the early 1970s through the 1980s. Then along came another character – someone younger, with an edgy style for the modern youth. His name was Jonathan Ross.
Ross first appeared in 1987 on the newly formed Channel 4 in his show The Last Resort. His sharp suits, irreverent tone and quick wit made him popular and cutting edge. Known as Wossy (a speech impediment means he cannot pronounce the letter R), he managed to attract plenty of high-profile guests.
He then dropped out of the limelight for a while until he took over as a panellist in the 1990s on comedy sports quiz show They Think It’s All Over. With his star rising again, he joined the BBC hosting Friday Night with Jonathan Ross in 2001. However lately his risk-taking has got him into considerable trouble.
His talk show and BBC Radio 2 music show have been the subject of controversy partly over his alleged £6 million salary but also because of a prank he played with Russell Brand against the actor Andrew Sachs (Manuel in Fawlty Towers). The extreme vulgarity of the prank cost Russell Brand his job at BBC Radio while Jonathan Ross was suspended for three months without pay.
HI style, though often entertaining, frequently borders on the rude. Apart from his behaviour towards Andrew Sachs – he also reportedly called Heather Mills a ‘**** liar’ and said he wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out she really had two legs. He justified his high salary by saying he was worth ’10,000 BBC journalists’ and he made an inappropriate comment on air to David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party.
People continue, though, to watch his show and high-profile guests continue to come on it. Compared with Michael Parkinson’s often bland and anodyne style, Wossy likes to compliment hid guests then get in a crafty insult. Despite a proposed pay cut, the Beeb shows no sign of cancelling him any time soon.
Trivia – Ross has three children with wife Jane Goldman called Betty Kitten, Harvey Kirby and Honey Kinney (he gives Bob Geldof a run for his money!). He is great friends with Ricky Gervais and appeared in an episode of Extras. He studied European History at the School of East European and Slavonic Studies. He was given an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to the entertainment industry.
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