A interview with Professor Robert Kelly on BBC News quickly went viral after he was interrupted by his two adorable children live on air. But while their interruption seems comical at first, the reaction of both parents made for uncomfortable viewing.
A besuited Professor Kelly is being interviewed via webcam for his thoughts on the political situation in South Korea, when without warning, a little girl in yellow cardigan and spectacles comes dancing into the room to see her daddy. As the BBC anchor informs Kelly "I think one of your children's just walked in", the Professor waves his arm behind him, which hits his daughter in the face. Without even turning around, he then pushes her backwards onto the bed. As she sits quietly, her baby brother suddenly appears in a baby walker, followed seconds later by their frantic mother Jung-a-Kim, who comes skidding into the room to remove the children pronto.
"Pardon me", says Professor Kelly as he closes his eyes and pauses, in an attempt perhaps to pretend none of this is happening. Meanwhile, their mother grabs the older child by the arm and unceremoniously yanks her onto the floor, before dragging her and the baby walker towards the door. "My apologies", says Kelly with a polite, business-like smile. In her rush to remove the children, their mother traps her child's bare foot between the door and the baby walker, causing her to shout "Ow! Ow! Ow!" followed by loud crying. "Sorry", says Kelly, closing his eyes once more, as his daughter continues to cry from behind the closed door for another 20 seconds. Meanwhile, her dad continues with his all-important interview.
David Waddell, Senior Producer at BBC 24/7 News tweeted afterwards "Nicely handled interruption Professor! Do you have any objection to me sharing the clip of that moment on BBC News?" Kelly seems unsure and asks him anxiously "Is this kinda thing that goes 'viral' and gets weird?"
Well yes, it already went viral Professor, and it's already kinda weird. What would have been so wrong, as a father, in acknowledging your daughter, and accepting that as a natural part of family life, sh*t happens? Viewers would have thought so much more of you if, instead of blindly pushing your daughter away, you had the kindness to tell her "Daddy is busy right now" and escort her and her baby brother gently from the room. Was there really any need for her mother to drag her across the floor in a vain attempt to keep her out of sight? Why not simply pick her up? It would have been more human, as a parent working from home, to simply sit your child on your lap and continue with your interview.
The reaction of Professor Kelly and his panicked wife in this incident is a sad reflection of our attitudes to work and family life - when work most definitely takes precedent, and children and work do not mix.
Isn't it about time, as a society, that we moved on from this notion? Women are already leading by example. BBC anchor Kate Silverton took her baby daughter along when she gave a speech at the Royal Geographical Society. "I probably create a load of havoc in my wake bringing my children to work but if you are calm, the baby is calm - it can be done. It challenges this perception that children should not be seen," she told the Evening Standard. In politics, Italian MEP Licia Ronzulli regularly took her daughter with her to work at the European Parliament from when she was only a few months old.
Licia Ronzulli,apareció en el Parlamento con su bebé recién nacido.Un aplauso pa quienes son "mujer+mamá+profesional" pic.twitter.com/gNDejrL5BL
— María Sol Corral Z. (@mariasolcorral) 5 June 2014
No doubt Professor Kelly's interview will continue to circulate as an infamous blooper for years to come. I hope though, that instead of barricading his study door, the Professor includes his children in future interviews. I can't helping thinking of the glorious moment at the end of Mary Poppins, when George Banks finally realises his family is more important than his job. As broadcaster James Mernendez said at the end of the BBC interview, 'I think you've got some children who need you!'
Perhaps Mr Kelly should take a tip from Mr Banks, loosen his tie and lighten up - it's only live TV after all. And next time his daughter interrupts an interview, instead of saying "Sorry", he should try "Supercallifragilisticexpialidocious."