Russell Brand (born 4 June 1975 in Grays, Essex) is an English comedian, actor, columnist and presenter best known for being the former host of Big Brother's Big Mouth, his BBC Radio 2 show, and stand-up comedy tours.
Brand is friends with Karl Pilkington. Karl was Russell's producer on his first 6Music show presented some radio shows together on BBC 6Music. They also belong to the same talent agency, John Noel Management. Ricky Gervais and Russell Brand have been seen together while Ricky was being interviewed on The Chris Moyles Show and during a co-interview after LiveEarth.
Russell is a fan of West Ham United FC. He is also a big fan of The Smiths and their ex-frontman Morrissey. Brand owns a cat of the same name. He has been quoted on his former 6Music radio show as saying that he would like the song Asleep played at his funeral.
Early and personal life
Brand was born in Essex as the only child of Barbara Elizabeth and Ronald Henry Brand who separated when Russell was six months old. Brand had a quite isolated and lonely childhood and had few friends. Brand made his theatrical debut at age 15, as "Fat Sam" in a school production of Bugsy Malone, and his performances earned him a council funded education at the private Italia Conti Academy, which led to a three-year scholarship at the Drama Centre, in Chalk Farm. Brand saw very little of his father growing up and, for his 15th birthday his father took him to a brothel. His love of football is a big part of his life; he claims it is "intrinsically about my relationship with my father."
Brand currently lives in Hampstead, London. He has been a vegetarian since the age of 14, does yoga and Capoeira. He is a former heroin addict, sex addict, alcoholic and has had numerous run-ins with the police, having been arrested 11 times for public indecency. During the time of his addiction, he was known for his debauchery, a notable example being his ejection from The Gilded Balloon, in Edinburgh. He has abstained from drug use since 2003 and is now a patron of the addiction charity Focus 12. His abandonment of drugs and alcohol was instigated by his agent John Noel. He did so with the help of the Hare Krishnas, to whom he feels "indebted". His friends include writing partner Matt Morgan, Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher, Mighty Boosh star Noel Fielding, presenter Jonathan Ross and Little Britain stars Matt Lucas and David Walliams.
- Main article: 6Music Shows
In December 2005, Brand co-presented three one-off radio shows for BBC 6Music with Karl Pilkington. Later in April 2006, Russell Brand was given a regular Sunday afternoon slot on the station. Karl Pilkington was advertised as being his co-host and even appeared with him on the first few shows. Karl mysteriously disappeared from the show after that, because 6Music's desire to release a downloadable podcast of the show conflicted with Karl's commitment to The Ricky Gervais Show podcast and he was replaced by Matt Morgan and Trevor Lock, who himself left the show soon after. Karl has since appeared (via the phone) on the Russell Brand Show, talking about his holiday visit to a historic resort in Lyme Regis, Dorset and his viewing of Brokeback Mountain. Brand's 6Music radio show placed as high as number two in the iTunes most-subscribed podcast chart. In November 2006, Brand's show was moved to BBC Radio 2, where it aired until October 2008 where a controversial joke sent to Andrew Sachs' answering machine caused the BBC to temporarily suspend Brand who later resigned. Brand's Radio 2 show was very popular in Pilkipedia circles.
Early presenting work
Brand's first presenting job was as a VJ on music channel MTV presenting Dance Floor Chart and MTV Select. However he was sacked after coming to work dressed as Osama bin Laden on 12 September 2001. In 2002, Brand made a TV show called Re:Brand for digital channel BBC Choice (now known as BBC 3). The show was a documentary where every episode saw Brand extreme behaviour to test probe both social and personal boundaries. In his search for truth and self-discovery Brand arranged a boxing match with his own father, let a tramp sleep in his bed and tested his sexuality by giving a hand-job to a stranger in a public toilet. The show is soon to be made available on DVD, but has yet to be repeated, UKNova currently has a 7 out of the 10 episodes availible for download.
Rise to Fame
Brand's popularity took off when, in 2004, he hosted E4's Big Brother's E-forum, later to be called Big Brother's Big Mouth. The show consisted of a studio audience of fans and two celebrity guests discussing the latest happenings in the Big Brother House, while viewers were able to contribute via phone, e-mail, text polls. Brand left the show after Big Brother 7. Brand hosted a one-off special called Big Brother According to Russell Brand in which Brand takes a surreal, sideways look at Big Brother through the ages. On 8 January 2008, Brand was the fifth celebrity to hijack the Big Brother house in the E4 show Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack. 1 Leicester Square was a chatshow on MTV UK that was hosted by Russell Brand. The show featured celebrity guests, musical entertainment and various asides with the presenter. The show was widely viewed as a vehicle for the comeback of Russell Brand after his sacking from MTV in 2001. In September 2006, Stephen Merchant made a guest appearance to promote series two of Extras In 2006, Brand presented a debate show called Russell Brand's Got Issues on E4. The format was similar to Big Brother's Big Mouth, but covered a much wider range of topics than did the fella do a wank under the duvet!? or why is that former child abuse victim such a bitch!? Due to it's poor ratings the show was moved to Channel 4 and renamed "The Russell Brand Show" where it lasted for one more series before being cancelled. Brand is currently presenting a show called Russell Brand's Ponderland, a BAFTA nominated ongoing channel 4 production featuring Brand giving a series of stand-up style monologues interspersed with old television and video footage. The first series was aired in 2007 and a second series has been filmed is currently airing on channel 4. In 2007 Brand presented a BBC4 documentary with Matt Morgan about the writer Jack Kerouac and his novel On the Road called Russell Brand On the Road in which Brand travelled across America, recreating Kerouac's journey depicted in his novel.
As of October 2008 Brand has hosted 3 major award shows in his career and has caused controversy in all all of them. The first of these was 2006 NME Awards show. Upon reaching the stage to receive his award, Bob Geldof began his speech with "Russell Brand... what a cunt" which later prompted Brand to strike back with, "I actually think Geldof's the best person to speak about famine, seeing as he's been dining out on I Don't Like Mondays for thirty years...". Talking about this event in his stand-up show, Brand refers to his ambivalence about snapping back. He claimed he always liked Geldof, stating that "it was a bit like Father Christmas calling me a cunt". In a later interview he claimed: "I think it was an abominable thing to say ... I was mentally ill. I was a drug addict. I nearly died. I don't see how that's befitting of that word." This was despite having been free of drugs for three years before the incident. Some controversy was caused when he hosted the 2007 BRIT Awards. Brand made several quips relating to news stories of the time including singer Robbie Williams entering rehab for addiction to prescription drugs, the Queen's 'naughty bits' and a fatal friendly fire incident involving a British soldier killed by American armed forces in Iraq. TV channel ITV1 received over 300 calls from viewers complaining The 2008 NME award were also hosted by Brand and he once again made several controversial remarks which were not taken well by some in the United States. He urged Americans to vote for Barack Obama and called President George W. Bush a "retarded cowboy fella". Additionally, one of Brand's jokes during the night centered around purity rings, specifically those worn by the Jonas Brothers. Jordin Sparks, who also wears a purity ring, began her introduction of T.I. by saying "It's not bad to wear a promise ring because not everybody, guy or girl, wants to be a slut." Sparks was criticized for implying that those who do not wear purity rings or do not abstain are sluts. Brand was shocked by the strong reaction given by the American people in particular the Jonas Brothers fans who reportedly set him numerous death threats causing Brand to hire a body guard for the days following the awards. Brand claimed to have toned down his routine for the show as he did not want to offend any Americans, many of whom were seeing him for the first time and said o his radio 2 show that he was glad he didn't say what he actually felt which is that democracy in itself is a joke. Despite the overwhelming reaction he has been asked back to present the awards this year. Brand presented an award at the 2008 pride of Britain awards and subsequently had 2 of the winners on his radio show.
Before becoming a mainstream entertainer, Brand had small roles in shows such as The Bill, Cold blood, Blessed, White teeth and Cruise of the Gods. Brand first major film role was as Flash Harry in the 2007 film St Trinian's, although it is not known if he will reprise the role for the upcoming sequel St Trinian's: The Legend of Fritton's Gold. He filmed a small role in 2006 for Penelope. His breakthrough role was in the 2008 film Forgetting Sarah Marshall, in which he played Aldous Snow, the boyfriend of the title character (played by Kristen Bell). Brand received rave reviews for his performance as Snow. He will again play the character of Aldous Snow for a buddy comedy entitled Get Him to the Greek, co-starring Jonah Hill. He is reuniting with Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller and producer Judd Apatow for the film also. It is described in Variety Magazine as a "very dirty take on Almost Famous".
Brand has been doing stand up profesionally since 2000. He was named 69th greatest stand-up of all time by channel 4 and currently has 3 DVDs out, Russell Brand Live, Russell Brand Doing Life Live and Russell Brand in New York City. He has another coming out later this year for his "Scandalous" tour of UK, USA and Austalia. His stand-up DVD with Noel Fielding appears to have been cancelled. He performed at the 2006 Secret Policeman's Ball, the 2007 royal variety performance, a 2007 teenage cancer trust event and appeared on comic relief in 2007. Much of Brand's fame in America can be contributed to his stand-up shows in LA.
Brand has written a column in The Guardian since May 2006 which has been about West Ham United and the England national football team. A collection of the columns from May 2006 till June 2007 was released on 15 November 2007 in a book entitled, Irons in the Fire and a second collection of the columns for the 2007/2008 was released on 16 October 2008 called Articles of Faith. Brand's autobiography, My Booky Wook, published by Hodder & Stoughton, was released on 15 November 2007. The book gained a positive reception upon release. The Observer commented that "Russell Brand's gleeful tale of drugs and debauchery in My Booky Wook puts most other celebrity memoirs to shame." Brand was to play himself in a film adaptation of his autobiography, to be directed by Michael Winterbottom, but the project has since been shelved by Brand, who did not want American audiences to learn of his "chequered past" without reading the book first. He signed a £1.8 million two-book deal with HarperCollins in June 2008. The first book, Articles of Faith was released in October 2008 with the second expected to be released the following year
Adam Sandler has lined up 2 other projects with Brand, one of which will be written by Brand and Matt Morgan. He is also starring as Trinculo in an upcoming adaption of Shakespeare's The Tempest as well as a Forgetting Sarah Marshall spin-off called Get Him to the Greek along-side Jonah Hill. He will be appearing in the 3D CGI movie dispicable me as well as playing the title role in the re-makes of Arthur and Drop Dead Fred.
Brand is a flamboyant performer, he describes himself as a "S&M Willy Wonka". Brand is also well known for his catchphrases such as " 'citing!"(exciting) and "the swine(s)!" as well as anecdotes involving him ending up in a sexual situation, or exposing his "dinkle" and calling for the lads to come and see it. Brand loves to perform and his best work is as a stand-up where his libertine lifestyle of sex and drugs has given him extraordinary true stories which he tells with self-awareness, pathos and insight. This is evident through Brand's critical success. In 2006 he was named best Stand Up by Time Out Magazine in the Time Out Live awards, , and the eight-night run of his stand-up show Shame at the 2006 Edinburgh Festival was the first show to sell out for that year.  Brand has won the stylish man of the year award and the least stylish man of the year award.
A self-confessed "woman adorer" and former sex-addict, he is rumoured to have had affairs with supermodel Kate Moss, and Big Brother UK contestants Kate Lawler, Big Brother Becki Seddiki and Makosi Musambasi.  He describes himself as having a "kind of roaring heterosexuality"  and has also admitted to frequenting Soho brothels to have sex with prostitutes (while still battling with his drug addictions).  Recently, the Daily Star published an article claiming that Bob Geldof has disallowed his daughter Peaches Geldof from going to Ibiza, in case Russell were to follow her. Brand dated Australian actress Teresa Palmer between May and September 2008. He won the sun's "Shagger of the year" award 3 years running causing the award to be renamed "The Russell Brand Shagger of the year award."
Brand is a former heroin addict and has had numerous run-ins with the law, having been arrested eleven times , and was expelled from Italia Conti theatre school when he was younger. During the time of his addiction he was known for his debauchery, notable examples being his ejection from The Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh for abusive behaviour  and his sacking from MTV UK on the 12th of September 2001 for arriving at work dressed as Osama bin Laden .
However, he has been free from heroin addiction since 2003 and is now a patron of the addiction charity Focus 12 . He hosted a forum show about drugs for Channel 4 in 2006, which had a similar format to that of Big Brother's Big Mouth, and his stage show Better Now drew extensively on his experiences with addiction  and returned to MTV UK with his own chatshow, (1 Leicester Square) which lasted for 1 series in 2006.