The BBC has suspended TV personalities Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross pending an inquiry into prank phone calls they made to actor Andrew Sachs.

All their shows have been taken off air, following the phone calls they made to Sachs on Radio 2 on Saturday. So far, 18,000 complaints have been made to the Beeb.

The news was announced in a statement on Wednesday by director-general Mark Thompson.

Thompson, currently on holiday, said he would ‘in the coming days, announce what action we will take.

“Since Sunday, I have been in regular contact with the senior executives I tasked with handling this issue,” he said.

“In the meantime, I have decided that it is not appropriate for either Russell Brand or Jonathan Ross to continue broadcasting on the BBC until I have seen the full report of the actions of all concerned.

“This gross lapse of taste by the performers and the production team has angered licence payers.”

He added his ‘own personal and unreserved apology to Andrew Sachs, his family and to licence fee payers for the completely unacceptable broadcast’.

Meanwhile, the subject of the calls, model Georgina Baillie, has told the Sun that Ross and Brand should be sacked over the phone calls made to her grandfather.