Maybe they just don't want to get covered in ash?
Word across the pond is that Sacha Baron Cohen has been told in no uncertain terms that any attempt to promote his already controversial new film, The Dictator, by appearing in character as the titular despot on the BBC's airwaves, will not be tolerated.
Reports are circulating—started, incidentally, by the actor himself—that Cohen's people approached a selection of the network's highest-profile talkfests, including The Graham Norton Show, with the request to guest as Admiral General Aladeen, but was roundly rejected.
But is it true? Was he really banned from the Beeb? This rumor is...
Though kudos to Cohen for masterfully starting it and thus getting more press than he might've from actually appearing on the shows he was supposedly banned from in the first place.
Cohen made the ban declaration to Britain's Sun paper (the first sign, perhaps, that his words shouldn't be taken at face value) and in character as the admiral (let's call that sign No. 2).
"While I am a huge admirer of state-sponsored censorship, the BBC banning me from their meager channels in an outrage," he told the tabloid. "Why are they victimizing little old me?"
It didn't take long for the venerable broadcaster to shoot down the allegation.
A spokesman for the BBC dismissed the notion of a ban, saying that Cohen's in-character comments seemed to be "tongue-in-cheek."
"Our chat shows thrive on the spontaneous banter between guests and the presenter, something you don't get when people come on as a character," they said. "We'd love to have Sacha on as himself."
Whether or not Cohen would drop the mask to appear, however, is another question altogether.