Leigh Francis breaks silence on Russell Brand rape allegations as comic says he 'feels sad for him' – and admits he fears cancel culture because 'people are easily offended'

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Leigh Francis has broken his silence on Russell Brand following sexual assault allegations being made against him.

British comedian Russell, 48, is currently facing allegations of sexual assaults and abusive and predatory behaviour between 2006 and 2013, when he was at the height of his fame. Allegations which he denies.

Speaking exclusively to MailOnline at the Radiant Resilience private exhibition in Quantus Gallery, London, Leigh said he feels the situation is ‘sad’ for Russell and the women involved.  

He explained: ‘I promised myself I wouldn’t comment on it – it’s just sad, isn’t it? It’s a saddening thing for everyone. It’s sad for the ladies, it’s sad for his family and it’s sad for him.’

Leigh, 50, best known as his alter ego Keith Lemon, went on to discuss being cancelled in the industry and claimed it’s unlikely anyone would ever accuse him of anything because he has been in a long-term relationship with wife Jill Carter since he was aged 19. They married when he was 30. 

EXCLUSIVE: It's sad for him': Leigh Francis has made a bold statement about Russell Brand's rape allegations - and admits he fears being cancelled because 'people are easily offended' (pictured with his wife Jill Carter in July)

EXCLUSIVE: Leigh Francis has broken his silence on Russell Brand following sexual assault allegations being made against him, while discussing cancel culture (pictured with his wife Jill Carter in July)

Allegations: British comedian Russell, 48, is currently facing allegations of sexual assaults and abusive and predatory behaviour between 2006 and 2013, when he was at the height of his fame. Allegations which he denies, (pictured in 2008)

Allegations: British comedian Russell, 48, is currently facing allegations of sexual assaults and abusive and predatory behaviour between 2006 and 2013, when he was at the height of his fame. Allegations which he denies, (pictured in 2008) 

But when asked if he fears he could get cancelled for saying the wrong thing, he said: ‘Yes, it’s easy to offend loads of people.’ 

His words come amid claims Leigh humiliated Melanie Sykes in front of a live audience while they filmed ITV’s Through The Keyhole.

Melanie, 53, said Leigh made explicit sexual gags about her for three hours, including: ‘I bet your a*****e smells of flowers.’

And when asked if he feared facing similar allegations to Russell, Leigh told MailOnline: ‘I’ve been married to the same lady since I was a little boy. 

‘I met my wife when I was 19, and I got married when I was 30 to the same lady, so there’s no worry about me getting cancelled for that.’

Leigh and Jill dated since they were teens before eventually tying the knot in 2002 at Allerton Castle, North Yorkshire. 

Earlier this week, Leigh found himself making headlines when Melanie claimed TV producers failed to act after she complained that comic Leigh made humiliating jokes about her to a live audience while they filmed ITV ‘s Through The Keyhole.

The radio and television presenter said the TV production company Talkback, founded by the comedy duo Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones, ignored her when she complained.

Speaking on fashion PR Lynne Franks’s podcast, Frankly Speaking she said: ‘I went into the studio and I didn’t think Keith was going to be like he was on the other show he does [ Celebrity Juice ] where it’s all sex and blowjobs and talking about people’s a*******s.’

But she added: ‘I sat there for a three-hour record and he did all that stuff to me verbally to entertain the live audience — because it was never going to make the edit of the show – so he used me to entertain the audience.’

Opinion: Speaking exclusively to MailOnline at the Radiant Resilience private exhibition in Quantus Gallery, London, Leigh said he feels the situation is 'sad' for Russel and the women involved

Opinion: Speaking exclusively to MailOnline at the Radiant Resilience private exhibition in Quantus Gallery, London, Leigh said he feels the situation is ‘sad’ for Russel and the women involved

Cancelled? Leigh, 50, best known as his alter ego Keith Lemon , went on to discuss being cancelled in the industry and claimed he never will be due to his long relationship with wife Jill Carter

Cancelled? Leigh, 50, best known as his alter ego Keith Lemon , went on to discuss being cancelled in the industry and claimed he never will be due to his long relationship with wife Jill Carter

Comedian Katherine Ryan, who has accused Russell Brand of being a sex predator, labelled Francis an ‘obvious creep’ at the 2019 TV Choice Awards.

She told the audience that Lemon was ‘proof for perverts everywhere that an obvious creep is cute. It’s way less threatening than a stealth one’.

Francis hosted Celebrity Juice for 25 seasons before it was axed last year. It drew complaints and was the subject of an investigation by Ofcom, which ruled that a trailer for the show breached guidelines in 2013 by featuring what the watchdog said was a sex toy.

Talkback said looking after its TV guests was ‘a top priority’. Francis did not respond to requests to comment last night.

Craig David also slammed his former show Bo’ Selecta! as ‘bullying’ and called out the impressions performed by Francis, as ‘racist’.

Bo’ Selecta! was first broadcast on Channel 4 in 2002 and ran for three series until 2009, spanning several spin offs.

The sketch show saw comedian Leigh perform as Avid Merrion, a stalker who is obsessed with celebrities and featured the comedian doing impressions of various stars using latex facemasks.

Now, the 41-year-old singer has blasted Leigh for the depictions, saying they had a hugely negative impact on him.

Speaking to The Times, Craig said: ‘It felt like a vendetta and when it got a following, it became something that affected me.’

‘People would shout at me on the street and I felt the same feeling I had when I was bullied at school. Leigh Francis had normalised bullying by making it comedy.’

Brand has been accused of rape, sexual assault and emotional abuse by multiple women, including one who says she was 16 at the time.

One woman has alleged Brand raped her in his Los Angeles home, while another accused him of grooming her as they were involved in an allegedly ’emotionally abusive and controlling relationship’ for three months when she was just 16 and still at school, and he was 31.

A third accuser claimed the comic sexually assaulted her while she worked with him in Los Angeles, and that he threatened to take legal action if she told anyone else about her allegation, and a fourth detailed the alleged sexual, physical and emotional abuse she was subjected to.

Allegations: The outing comes amid claims the comic ¿ best known as his alter ego Keith Lemon ¿ humiliated Melanie Sykes while they filmed ITV 's Through The Keyhole (pictured in 2021)

Allegations: The outing comes amid claims the comic – best known as his alter ego Keith Lemon – humiliated Melanie Sykes while they filmed ITV ‘s Through The Keyhole (pictured in 2021)

Awful: Melanie, 53, said Leigh made explicit sexual gags about her for three hours, including: 'I bet your a*****e smells of flowers'

Awful: Melanie, 53, said Leigh made explicit sexual gags about her for three hours, including: ‘I bet your a*****e smells of flowers’  

Brand posted a video on YouTube and Twitter refuting the allegations and insisted relationships at the time of his promiscuity’ were ‘consensual’.

Russell’s behaviour is alleged to have been common knowledge among female performers on the comedy circuit, who are said to have warned each other about him and his attitude towards women is alleged to have been an open secret in radio and TV production, according to sources who briefed The Sunday Times .

Bosses at the BBC and Channel 4 are accused of turning a blind eye towards the entertainer’s behaviour while he worked for them as a presenter between 2006 and 2013.

The broadcasters have insisted they took all necessary steps over him, but executives could still be called before a Government select committee where MPs will grill them over what they knew.

Latest Russell Brand News  

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  • Russell Brand’s money-spinning empire crumbles as YouTube suspends lucrative adverts and he is dumped by his book publisher and agent
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  • Ex-model tells how Russell Brand ‘stalked her through London streets demanding sex after they met in a bar forcing her to RUN to flee his advances’
  • Inside Russell Brand’s rocky relationship with wife’s family: How golf legend father-in-law Bernard Gallacher ‘begged’ daughter Laura to split with the star 
  • Katherine Ryan repeatedly accused Russell Brand of being a ‘sexual predator’ during filming for Comedy Central’s Roast Battle before he was dropped from what was his last major TV job in the UK 
  • How the liberal media feted Russel Brand as a political messiah – and set him on his path to becoming a conspiracy-peddling crank 
  •  Russell Brand accuser reveals the letter she wrote to the comedian after he allegedly raped her against a wall in his Los Angeles home
  • Inside Russell Brand’s marriage to wife Laura Gallacher: Pair met through her Sky Sports star sister Kirsty and dated when she was 18 

 




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