‘BBC Dad’ Made A Comeback To Remind Parents That Video Conferencing Can Be Unpredictable

by Karen Belz
Karen Belz has written for sites such as Bustle, HelloGiggles, Romper, and So Yummy. She's the mom of a sassy toddler and drinks an alarming amount of Sugar-Free Red Bull in order to keep up with her.

Not everyone has a chance to wake up and realize they’ve become a viral star. Back in 2017, political analyst Robert Kelly was all over the internet after a BBC interview turned into a relatable parenting moment that had the world laughing.

While live on television, Robert’s two children, Marion and James, both confidently busted into the office unannounced. Everything about their entrance was perfect.

Robert handled it well, but during the video, you can see his wife, Kim Jung-a, burst into the room, panicking over the situation. It wasn’t necessarily an embarrassing moment. It was just a moment that reminded people that oftentimes people are juggling two full-time jobs at once. And sometimes they intersect.

From then on out, people knew Robert as “BBC Dad.” In fact, during conferences that occurred after this video, sometimes they announced him as “BBC Dad” before “Robert.”

That moment has become even more relatable now in 2020. Since many of us are working from home, business has been conducted using sources like Google Hangouts and Zoom. And as most day cares and schools are closed, it means that people’s children are at home. So having kids bust in during your video chat? Very common.

A year after his initial interview, Robert wrote a piece for ABC to talk about how much his life has changed. “On March 11, 2017, I was interviewed at home on the BBC’s World News program about the impeachment of South Korean president Park Geun-hye,” he said. “My two young children broke into my home office while I was live on air. My wife then careered into the office to pull them out. It was all captured live on global satellite TV, and the video of the blooper quickly went viral. I acquired a new moniker, one I will likely carry with me for the rest of my life: ‘BBC Dad.'”

In the piece, he debunked two rumors. One was that the whole ordeal with staged. The other? “That I did not stand up because I was not wearing pants,” he wrote. “To this day, I am still asked about these topics.” He wanted the world to know that this was just as it looked — an unstaged blooper that, at the time, was more embarrassing than funny.

“Our children were 9 months and 4 years old respectively, at the time,” he said. “I cannot imagine trying to coordinate anything this complicated with children of that age. Sorry, it was just a legitimate family blooper.” He also stated that he was wearing pants, but he chose not to stand since he felt like it wouldn’t have been professional.

Robert admitted that the viral fame was strange at first. “It can be pretty weird when people regularly photograph you out and about, often without asking, simply because they saw you on television,” he wrote. “I was photographed buying milk at Costco once, because apparently BBC Dad’s calcium consumption is a hot issue.”

The video did lead to a lot of incredible opportunities for Robert and his family, so he almost seems grateful that it went viral. “I am solicited more frequently for my opinion on North Korea and North East Asian security, and I get invited to interesting places I would not visit otherwise,” he said. “This is flattering. And it is fairly amazing how far the video traveled.”

But Robert said that one of the biggest reactions from fans? Being able to relate. “We received thousands, perhaps ten thousand, communications following the video,” he said. “People wrote emails, called us, solicited us via social media, sent us gifts, and so on, and 99 per cent of it was positive. Parents in particular saw themselves in our shoes, struggling to balance work and life.”

“Many of the comments we received were from parents who had had similar experiences, such as locking themselves in the bathroom so their kids could not interrupt a radio interview,” he continued. “These reactions were positive and empathetic. We were very moved by them.” But in general, he knew that his video was a fad. One day, it’d be forgotten about.

But today’s not that day. Robert and his family were back on the BBC, and it’s incredible to see how much they’ve grown. They’re all still quite energetic, and true to character. Robert’s wife chatted about the importance of getting them outside, even though there are so many restrictions in place at the moment.

Robert also talked about how South Koreans are handling their quarantine and admits he thinks that they’re doing very well with it. “Compliance here has been pretty high,” he said. “You don’t see the kind of stuff you’ve seen in the United States, with having … people refusing to stay off the subways.”

Once the kids started acting up a bit on camera, Robert apologized. But as his interviewer states, it’s never something he should apologize for. Especially since, as BBC Dad, his kids are the reason why he became a household name. They’re just being their true selves.

While Robert seems to have properly acknowledged his viral fame in his piece, it may still be tough for him to realize how those few seconds turned his children into big stars. Someone was so charmed by them that they created an animated series focusing on the misadventures of the two. Their names were changed, but it’s very obviously them.

Since Robert’s online incident, there’ve been a few that have been far worse. For example, there’s one video floating around that shows a woman who goes to the bathroom during her meeting, failing to realize that the camera was on. Whether that particular video is real or staged, these things can happen. When you’re not used to using certain pieces of technology, there will be errors.

So how do you avoid a moment like this? It can be difficult. If you’re about to have a meeting, make sure you know where your mute button is. Also, if you happen to be going on live television — like Robert — you might want to lock your door.

But in general, try to be forgiving if something like this happens. We’re all under so much pressure right now, especially parents. So if you happen to see an embarrassing live moment, try hard to forgive and forget. And just be glad it’s not you. Even if you can spin it positively like Robert, his career changed abruptly due to that single moment.