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Jonathan Ross return watched by over 5 million

Jonathan Ross

Story by Jack Foley

JONATHAN Ross’ highly publicised return to the BBC following a three-month suspension was watched by more than five million viewers, according to early figures released by the Beeb.

At its peak, Friday Night With Jonathan Ross attracted 5.1 million – compared with the 3.74 million who tuned in for his final chat show before the ban in October 2008.

Guests including Tom Cruise, Lee Evans and Stephen Fry joined the presenter for the comeback show – with Cruise, in particular, being a top attraction in one of the few interviews he gave while in the UK promoting his latest movie, Valkyrie.

Fry, meanwhile, joked with Ross that it was nice to be one of the first guests back to help him off the “naughty step”.

Ross, in an impromptu move, also apologised for his part in the lewd phone call row that prompted his suspension from the BBC back in October, involving Andrew Sachs.

He opened proceedings with a couple of jokes, before adding – more seriously: “I am going to take this opportunity to apologise for what I said on the radio because being on the BBC, and being allowed this level of freedom to communicate openly with people, it’s a great privilege and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed and I value enormously.”

He added that, in future, he intended to be “more aware of the responsibility that comes with such a gift” and concluded: “But, as the kids say, it was ‘my bad’ so I do apologise for any hurt or distress it’s caused.”

Ross also returned to his Radio 2 show on Saturday morning (January 24, 2009), confirming that it was nice to be back.

The BBC has also revealed that it still received 25 complaints on Friday (January 23) from viewers who were unhappy at Ross’s return, as well as three messages of support for the presenter.