BBC bosses have dismissed reports suggesting they've banned Sacha Baron Cohen's controversial new character Admiral General Aladeen from TV chat shows and news programmes, insisting the funnyman is joking at the media's expense.
Cohen, as his The Dictator alter-ego, has blasted BBC chiefs for banning him from their "meagre stations" - but a spokesperson for the network insists that's not the case, although they would like the comedian to appear as himself, and not in character.
Reports suggested that Cohen's Aladeen had been banned from plugging his upcoming film on hit programmes like The Graham Norton Show and Newsnight, as well as various radio shows.
The spokesperson says, "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. We'd love to have Sacha on as himself."
Cohen's latest comedy character was caught up in a similar 'ban' routine earlier this year in the run-up to the Oscars when he claimed he had been uninvited to the awards show after organisers learned he would be hitting the red carpet in character as Aladeen.
Oscars bosses insisted there was no ban, but they did want to know what the comedian was planning to do.
The star was escorted off the red carpet after pouring what he claimed were the ashes of former North Korea leader Kim Jong-il over TV host Ryan Seacrest, who was reporting live from the Academy Awards for America's E! network.
And earlier this week, he had Australian TV censors sweating during an appearance on breakfast show Today, during which he appeared as Aladeen and suggested Israel was to blame for the sinking of the Titanic, Mel Gibson was the head of his country's department of race relations and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was born a man.