A year on, ‘BBC Dad’ reflects on internet stardom and life since ‘that’ video

You won’t have forgotten it. The hilarious video where political analyst Robert Kelly was spectacularly upstaged by his two little kids and their “skating” mother during a live BBC interview has been viewed on YouTube more than 27 million times and is by far BBC News’ most-watched clip on the streaming site.

One year on, the expert on inter-Korean affairs has written about what life’s been like since his family was thrust into the limelight by the chaotic interview, which took place at their home in the southern Korean city of Busan.

Writing on the website of the Lowy Institute (an Australian think tank), Kelly recalled the day in March 2017 when his children “broke into my home office while I was live on air. My wife then careened 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'”

‘Mostly fun, sometimes weird’

He says the last 12 months have “mostly been fun, and sometimes weird.” Weird because people regularly photograph him when he’s out and about, “often without asking, simply because they saw you on television.”

“I was photographed buying milk at Costco once, because apparently BBC Dad’s calcium consumption is a hot issue,” Kelly quips in his article.

He describes how “total strangers routinely ask us for pictures or autographs, or just photograph us anyway,” and mentions a time when a police office in South Korea pulled him over jut to ask for a selfie.

Kelly says that being a quasi-celebrity is “quite a curious sensation … especially when you haven’t really done anything to earn it. People often ask me if it is fun or cool to be famous, and I suppose it might be more so if my fame was based on something meritorious.”

One thing he’s asked a lot is if his family made any money from the video. He says they made “a bit” from a few related commercials that came out of the experience, but added that most of the offers fell through.

The upside

The big plus is that since the video, he’s now asked more often about his opinion on North Korea, and gets invitations to events around the world to share his thoughts on happenings in the region.

Kelly adds that the viral-video experience has been positive on the whole, noting that it’s not always the case for those who become stars overnight. “We were lucky that our 15 minutes of fame were due to something positive,” he writes. “Many viral experiences are quite negative: people do something foolish, it is caught on film, and it destroys their reputation.”

While Kelly considers the incident as nothing more than “just a family blooper,” some viewers wanted to read more into it, with the analyst finding some of the politics of it “weird.” Overall, the thousands of messages his family received were “positive and empathetic,” but he notes that a year on, peak interest has well and truly passed and it was now time to make way “for the next dancing cat video.”


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