Russell Brand’s last major television job in the UK ended with him being dropped after he was repeatedly accused of being a “sexual predator” during the recording of the show.
Brand was booked as a judge on Comedy Central’s Roast Battle in 2018, but only lasted a single season on the series after he himself was roasted on-camera over allegations he had sexually assaulted women. He strongly denies criminal wrongdoing.
The confrontations reveal how speculation about Brand was circulating in the comedy and TV worlds, but he continued to be employed on primetime series. The show appears to be something of a turning point, however, given Brand virtually vanished from UK television screens after 2018, except for an appearance on The Great Celebrity Bake Off.
Deadline can reveal details of Brand’s spell on Roast Battle for the first time after The Times, Sunday Times, and Channel 4 reported allegations that the comedian sexually assaulted four women at the height of his fame. Brand vehemently denies the claims and has said all of his relationships were consensual.
Ryan has previously spoken about her experience on Roast Battle, but has not named Brand or the show she was working on. In an appearance on BBC series Louis Theroux Interviews... last year, Ryan revealed that she confronted her unnamed co-star: “I – in front of loads of people, in the format of the show – said to this person’s face that they are a predator.”
Deadline has confirmed with multiple sources that she was referring to Brand and Roast Battle. Ryan told Theroux that she did not name her colleague because it was a “litigious minefield” and she had not personally been assaulted by Brand.
One person familiar with the matter said Brand was “absolutely furious” at being targeted by Ryan. This person said other comedians may have also called out Brand, though this has not been confirmed by those who worked on the show. Two other sources said he demanded that producers protect him from being roasted by his fellow comedians.
The industry insiders said Fulwell 73 grew uncomfortable with the rumors swirling around Brand and his reluctance to be roasted gave the company an opportunity to drop him.
“Contract negotiations were made as tricky as possible, is the best way to put it,” said a source familiar with talks with Brand over Season 2. “In the end, it came down to the fact that it seemed like Russell didn’t have a good sense of humor. He didn’t feel he was fair game.”
Based on the U.S. show Jeff Ross Presents Roast Battle, Comedy Central’s Roast Battle format is predicated on comedians making jokes at each other’s expense, and judges Brand, Ryan, and Jimmy Carr were also considered to be fair game. Brand was replaced by Jonathan Ross for Roast Battle‘s second season.
Brand has not responded to Deadline’s request for comment. A representative for Ryan declined to comment. Fulwell 73 did not have a comment at the time of publication.
Paramount said: “We are aware of the very serious allegations raised in the investigation by The Sunday Times, The Times and Dispatches. Russell Brand was a presenter on MTV at periods between 2000-2012 and was a panellist on Comedy Central UK’s Roast Battle in 2017.