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Jonathan Stephen Ross OBE (born 17 November 1960) is an Englishmarker film critic and presenter of radio and television. Working extensively with the BBC, Ross has presented The Film Programme since 1997, his own chat show, Friday Night With Jonathan Ross since 2001, and a radio show on BBC Radio 2 beginning in 1999. He also appeared for years as a panelist on They Think It's All Over and was the annual host of the British Comedy Awards from 1991-2007, broadcast on ITV. Ross is known for his distinctive voice, flamboyant style of dress, and his light-hearted banter. Ross has a boldness in presenting, which some would consider often risqué, and as a result, he has sometimes been surrounded by controversy. He was won three BAFTA Awards for his work on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross.

Early life

Ross was born in Londonmarker, Englandmarker, the son of British actress and radio presenter Martha Ross. He grew up in Leytonstonemarker and is the brother of English journalist, television editor, and media personality Paul Ross; TV producer/actor Miles Ross; and TV producer Simon Ross. He was educated at Norlington School for Boysmarker, a secondary modern school at the same time as his elder brother Paul, and also at Leyton County High School for Boysmarker, a grammar school. He also attended Southampton College of Art and studied Modern European History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London; he was made a Fellow of UCLmarker (into which SSEES was absorbed) in 2006.

Broadcast career

Early career

Ross began his career as a researcher on the Channel 4 show Loose Talk. After leaving this, he worked on various other shows before beginning another research job on Soul Train, which became Solid Soul.

Channel X (1987–95)

Whilst on Solid Soul, he met fellow researcher Alan Marke, and the two devised what would prove to be a breakthrough hit for Ross in 1987, The Last Resort With Jonathan Ross.

The pair based their concept on the successful American show Late Night With David Letterman, and formed a new production company called Channel X, to produce a pilot. Ross was not originally slated as the show's host, but with little time to find one Jonathan Ross stepped in and made his television debut on the show in January 1987.

While the series was initially a co-production with Colin Calendar, ownership transferred to Marke and Ross, meaning that the latter retained a great deal of control as well as being presenter . The show proved popular for both Ross and for Channel 4, making him one of the major personalities on the channel.

A year later, his documentary series The Incredibly Strange Film Show introduced many to the works of cult filmmakers like Sam Raimi and Jackie Chan.

In 1989, he co-presented the biennial BBC charity telethon Comic Relief, the same year he launched One Hour with Jonathan Ross a short lived chat show on Channel 4, most notable for the game show segment "Knock down ginger" which introduced comedians such as Vic Reeves, Bob Mortimer, Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson to television.

In 1991, he presented the annual British Comedy Awards on ITV. He has presented the event each year since, but in 2008 announced he would be stepping down from the role following his suspension from the BBC. In 1992 he presented an interview with Madonna about her Erotica album and Sex Book promotion.

In 1993, he was the narrator for FIA Formula One Season Review video.

Ross has appeared in numerous television entertainment programmes on several channels throughout the 1990s and 2000s. He was a regular panellist on the sports quiz They Think It's All Over, and hosted the panel game It's Only TV...But I Like It. Other projects include the BBC joke-quiz Gagtag, the Channel 4 variety show Saturday Zoo, new-acts showcase The Big Big Talent Show, and the ITV programme Fantastic Facts.

In 1995 he left Channel X, despite its profitable nature. He was quoted in a 1998 article as stating:

Post Channel X (1995–2001)

He took over presenting of The Film Programme in 1999, the BBC's long-running cinema review series, after Barry Norman left the show. Ross himself has made a number of cameo appearances in films, playing himself in the Spice Girls' film Spiceworld (1997) and voicing the character of Doris in the UK version of Shrek 2 (2004). He also played himself in Only Fools and Horses, presenting Goldrush, a fictional television quiz on which the main character, Del Boy, was a contestant. In 2001 he voiced characters in two episodes of the animated comedy series Rex the Runt. In the 30 October episode of Film 2006, Ross also claimed that he had appeared as an extra in the 1981 movie 'The Rise and Fall of Idi Amin', as an Israeli soldier raiding Entebbe airport. He also appeared on the first pilot show for Shooting Stars, acting as a team captain.

BBC Radio (1999–present)

Ross began presenting a Saturday morning show on BBC Radio 2 in 1999, and he continues to do so. He has also presented radio shows for BBC Radio 1 and Virgin Radio (having previously worked on Richard Branson's earlier venture, Radio Radio), as well as the now-defunct commercial radio network service The Superstation, where his producer was Chris Evans.

As of 23 May 2009, Ross' BBC Radio 2 show will be pre-recorded 24 hours before broadcast. This decision was made to make the show more watertight and, according to the press, to make sure Ross's off-the-cuff comments that may, and have, cause offense can be edited out.

Friday Night with Jonathan Ross (2001–present)

On 2 November 2001, Ross began presenting his chat show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. The show continues to air on the BBC, but has received criticism.

In 2005, Ross anchored the BBC television coverage of the Live 8 concerts. Later that year he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to broadcasting. He celebrated the news by playing "God Save the Queen" by The Sex Pistols (which was banned by the BBC when released in 1977) on his BBC Radio 2 Saturday morning show. On 21 June 2006 Ross was made a Fellow of University College Londonmarker, his alma mater.

In early 2006, Ross announced that after eight years he was quitting his regular panellist seat on the sport/comedy quiz show They Think It's All Over, stating:

However, after Ross's departure, only two more episodes of the show were made before it was cancelled.

In January 2006 he presented Jonathan Ross' Asian Invasion, broadcast on BBC Four. The three-part documentary followed Ross as he explored the film industry in Japan, Hong Kong and Korea, interviewing directors and showcasing clips. His interest in Asian culture and his self confessed love for anime and video games led him to making three series of BBC Three show Japanorama, as well as producing another series for the same channel called Adam and Joe Go Tokyo, starring Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish. He produced the latter programme through his own production company Hot Sauce.

On 25 June 2006, he performed at the Children's Party At The Palace for Queen Elizabeth II's 80th birthday and later in August 2006 Ross was enlisted to ask the first question since the transition from beta for the Yahoo Answers in UK and Ireland. The answer can be seen here. On 16 March 2007, Ross hosted Comic Relief 2007 alongside Fearne Cotton and Lenny Henry. On 7 July 2007 Ross presented at the Live Earth concert.

Starting on 10 September 2007 he presented the BBC Four series Comics Britannia, about the history of the British comic. This forms the core of a Comics Britannia season, which also includes another documentary by Ross called In Search of Steve Ditko.

In May 2008, Ross won the Sony Gold Award "Music Radio Personality of the Year".

On 3 August 2008, on BBC1, he hosted Jonathan Ross Salutes Dad's Army.

BBC contract

In April 2006, Ross, along with other BBC personalities, had details of his fees leaked to the tabloid press.It was claimed at the time by a then unidentified BBC mole, that Ross earned £530,000 (equivalent to £10,000 per show) per year for hosting his Radio 2 show. This was a controversial revelation. For some, the BBC was abusing its dominant position over commercial rivals in paying popular personalities such high fees, and for others debasing its public service remit . While refusing to comment specifically on the leak in line with the BBC policy on the matter, Ross did hint during his radio show that the figure was exaggerated; in addition to this, any pay highlighted as being 'his' would actually be split between himself and his producer/co-presenter on the show, Andy Davies.

The following June, a bidding war was sparked between BBC and ITV for his services. Although ITV were unsuccessful in poaching Ross, it is believed that their bid was higher than the BBC during negotiations . Had the ITV move come off, it would have meant that the network would have poached two of chat's biggest names from the BBC with Michael Parkinson and Jonathan Ross. Ross became the highest paid television personality in Britain, when a new BBC contract secured his services until 2010, for a reported £18 million (£6 million/year).


David Cameron interview

In June 2006, when Conservative party leader David Cameron appeared on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Ross began a line of questioning relating to Conservative ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, culminating in the question "Did you or did you not have a wank thinking of Margaret Thatcher?". Ross was defended by the BBC publicly but repeat showings of the interview have been banned.

Heather Mills comment

In 2006, Ross was criticised when he made a joke against Heather Mills, soon after she and Paul McCartney announced they were to divorce. He branded Mills, who only has one leg, a "fucking liar" and that he "wouldn't be surprised if we found out she's actually got two legs".

"1,000 journalists" comment

On 5 December 2007, Ross joked at the British Comedy Awards that his salary meant that he was "worth 1,000 BBC journalists". His quip came shortly after the BBC had announced plans for more than 2,000 jobs cuts, and was condemned as "obscene" by the general secretary of the National Union of Journalists.

The Russell Brand Show and Andrew Sachs

Following a guest appearance by Ross on the The Russell Brand Show broadcast on 18 October 2008, Ross was suspended for 12 weeks without pay by the BBC on 29 October, after a series of answer phone messages were left for 79-year-old actor Andrew Sachs by Russell Brand and Ross, which were broadcast on the pre-recorded show. After little initial interest, a media story about the calls generated a high number of complaints. Brand resigned from the BBC, while Ross was suspended without pay. BBC director general Mark Thompson stated that Ross should take the disciplinary action as a "final warning". The BBC was later fined 150,000 pounds by Britain's broadcast regulator for airing the calls.

On 21 November 2008 the BBC Trust said that the phone calls were a "deplorable intrusion with no editorial justification". The trust gave its backing to Ross's 12 week suspension but recommended that no further action be taken against him. He returned to work in January, and the first episode of a new series of Friday Night With Jonathan Ross with guests Tom Cruise, Stephen Fry and Lee Evans, and music from Franz Ferdinand, was broadcast on 23 January 2009.

Gwyneth Paltrow interview

The BBC Trust ruled that Ross’ interview with Gwyneth Paltrow, broadcast on 2 May 2008, breached editorial guidelines. They ruled that bad language in an episode of Ross's pre-recorded BBC1 chatshow, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, in which the presenter told Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow he "would fuck her" was "gratuitous and unnecessarily offensive". The trust said it disagreed with the judgment made by BBC management that the episode should be broadcast uncensored, adding that the comment was made in an "overly sexual way" and that it had upheld a number of complaints made about the edition of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross.The trust reminded BBC staff that "the casual gratuitous use of the most offensive language is not acceptable on the BBC in accordance with the BBC's existing guidelines and practices", adding that "this particularly applies in entertainment programmes".

"Hannah Montana" comment

On 13 May 2009, Ross was accused of homophobia after a comment he made on his radio show. In which he said,

If your son asks for a Hannah Montana MP3 player, then you might want to alreadythink about putting him down for adoption in later life, when they settle down withtheir partner. "Ofcom Broadcast Bulletin Issue 137", Ofcommarker, 2009-07-06. Retrieved on 2009-07-06

An incorrect version of this quote was also circulated, in which Ross was accused of saying:

If your son asks for a Hannah Montana MP3 player, you might want to already think about putting him down for adoption before he brings his … erm … partner home.

Ofcommarker received 61 complaints following the comment. A representative from the BBC defended Ross saying the comment was made "purely in jest" and that "Jonathan is not homophobic in any sense and never meant for his comments to be taken seriously." On 7 July 2009 Ofcom ruled that Ross did not breach the broadcasting code. They wrote in their opinion that "the comment was clearly presented as a joke intended to make light of the reactions that some parents may have if their child chooses a toy that is very widely recognised to be designed and marketed for the opposite sex" and that the nature of the joke and tone and manner in which it was presented "made clear that it was not intended to be hostile or pejorative towards the gay community in general." Stonewall criticised the ruling; saying "the fact that a comment is light-hearted does not absolve it from perpetuating the stereotypes that lead to homophobic bullying."

Personal life

Ross married author/journalist/broadcaster Jane Goldman, ten years his junior, in 1988, when Goldman was just 18. They have since had three children: Betty Kitten (named after Bettie Page), Harvey Kirby (named after Jack Kirby, a comic book creator whom Ross especially admires), and Honey Kinny. The family lives in Hampsteadmarker.

Ross and others have used his rhotacism for comic effect and he is sometimes known as "Wossy," including on his Twitter feed (@wossy).

Ross is known for owning exotic pets. He is a big fan of David Bowie, British punk rock, Star Trek, Doctor Who, and comic books. Ross has even co-owned a comic shop in London with Paul Gambaccini. He was also the visual inspiration for the main character in the comic book Saviour. Ross is also greatly interested in Japan, presenting a BBC-TV series on many different aspects of Japanese culture, Japanorama, for three series between 2002-07.

He is a close friend of comedian Ricky Gervais and bought him a kitten after Gervais' previous cat, Colin, had died. The cat's name is Ollie and was presented to him on an episode of Ross's talk show Friday Night With Jonathan Ross. He was one of the special celebrity guests in the final episode of Gervais's second season of Extras, in which Gervais's character, Andy Millman, and Ross were shown to be the best of friends after a fictional appearance on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross.

He is also a friend of author Neil Gaiman, and he and his wife appear in Gaiman's short story "The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch", collected in Fragile Things.

In 2005, Ross was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen's Birthday Honours for services to broadcasting. He celebrated the news by playing "God Save the Queen" by The Sex Pistols on his Radio 2 show.


  1. 'Baggy fashion is blamed for trouble at t'mill', Roland Rudd, The Times, 2 June 1988.
  2. Ross's radio show no longer live - BBC News
  3. Jonathan Ross Live Show Axed - The Sun
  4. BBC profile for Comics Britannia
  5. Julia Day "Radio 2 stars' salaries leaked", The Guardian, 18 April 2006
  6. Owen Gibson "BBC unmasks mole who leaked salary details of its biggest stars", The Guardian, 17 May 2006
  7. 'Ross to stay at the BBC', Ben Dowell, The Guardian, 9 June 2006,,1794076,00.html
  8. 'BBC to ban repeats of Ross versus Cameron' The Times, 1 July 2006,,2-2251285,00.html
  9. Colin Crummy "Jonathan Ross: I'm worth 1,000 BBC journalists", Press Gazette, 6 December 2007
  10. BBC Trust criticises Jonathan Ross over lewd comment to Gwyneth Paltrow
  11. [1]
  12. Geen, Jessica. "Exclusive: Jonathan Ross accused of homophobia", Pink News, 2009-05-13. Retrieved on 2009-05-14.
  13. Jonathan Ross's gay 'joke' was wrong
  14. Singh, Amar. "Jonathan Ross accused of homophobia over Hannah Montana comment", London Evening Standard, 2009-05-14. Retrieved on 2009-05-14.
  15. Geen, Jessica. "Stonewall: Ross's 'light-hearted' comment still encourages bullying", Pink News, 2009-07-06. Retrieved on 2009-07-06.
  16. Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, 26 November 2004

Further reading

  • Jonathan Ross: The Biography, Neil Simpson, John Blake Publishing Ltd (31 Jul 2007), ISBN 184454432X
  • Why Do I Say These Things?, Jonathan Ross, Bantam Press (16 Oct 2008), ISBN 0593060822

External links

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