Brand feels the heat from Sheffield academic

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Comedian Russell Brand has come under fire from a top Sheffield University academic - who believes satirical attacks on politicians have gone too far.

Politics professor Matthew Flinders has written an open letter to Brand in the wake of a recent interview with Jeremy Paxman.

Brand, who was guest editing New Statesman magazine, argued that as an outsider to the process he was well qualified to speak out on the current state of politics.

But Professor Flinders believes comedians like Brand make big money from promoting corrosive cynicism about politicians rather than healthy scepticism.

Their material reinforces the general view that politics is failing and all politicians are rogues, he adds.

But politics matters, Professor Flinders says, while comedians are all too ready to heckle from the sidelines, and to insist there are simple solutions to complex problems without ever shouldering any direct responsibility.

The professor is currently working on a Radio 4 programme to be broadcast next month examining the same issues.