A live BBC interview went viral when two small children interrupted their father as he spoke most seriously about the situation in South Korea.

For those who missed it: the father, a political scientist, in business attire and with freshly combed hair, was being interviewed via Skype by the BBC. Located in a home study complete with a world map and bookshelves, he had just uttered the words "triumph of democracy" when a door opened behind him unleashing a mini tornado in the form of his small daughter.

She swaggered in with all the bravado of a prizefighter while her father tried to keep her at arm's length while maintaining eye-contact with the BBC. Then a baby whizzed in aboard some sort of infant mobility device that's sure to have been outlawed in New Zealand.

Finally, the frantic mother arrived on the scene doing a cartoonish floor-slide and, with some difficulty, gathered up the children and removed them from the room. The entire sequence was slapstick comedy gold. If you see only one 50-second viral clip this year, make sure it's this one.


The chatter that surrounds viral internet sensations follows a standard template. Here we explore six classic aspects in the context of this most recent case.

1. Criticism of the key character

The dad took a bit of flack for fending off his small child without even looking at her. The armchair critics online reckon a "cool dad" would have chuckled, taken the child up on his lap and introduced her to the television audience. Because, of course, that child would then have sat quietly and not interfered with the serious discussion at all. Yeah, right. Anyone who saw her exuberant, arm-swinging swagger could tell she was poised to be the life of the party, a disruptive force. Trying to include her would have been a veritable train crash. (And, importantly, not nearly as funny.)

2. Accusations of bigotry

The woman who scooped up the children was described variously as the nanny, the maid and the babysitter. She was, in fact, the man's wife and the children's mother. Because this woman is Korean, anyone who thought she was an employee was accused of being racist, making assumptions and generally displaying all the attributes of someone who has a "Trump for President" sticker on the bumper of their pick-up truck.

Well, before the facts were made public (and why let those pesky things inform heated Twitter debates), her actions looked more like those of a nanny than a mother to me. If I'd been the nanny, I would have been extremely agitated and I, too, would have fished those children out of my employer's office quick smart.

But if I'd been the wife and mother (and especially if it happened to be the dreaded feeding hour) I might have been inclined to think: "He's spent long enough in his office. It's about time the children saw their father and I don't care if he's on yet another one of his important Skype calls." And, that's what I would call a real triumph of democracy.

3. The minute observations

It seems that the professor tried to disguise the bed in his study by placing piles of books on it - thus giving the casual observer the impression that this piece of furniture was more scholarly than it actually was. Of course, there's no such thing as a casual observer once your clip goes viral.

In this case, the rogue toddler dislodged those books after she had been spurned by her father. Undoing his efforts to lend his office a little more gravitas was the ultimate form of revenge on her part. It was also a reminder to us all about the hazards of mixing children and work.

4. The innocent foreshadowing

The man concerned, a self-described "Professor of Political Science" with 19.9K (and climbing) followers on Twitter, had earlier announced: "I will be on @BBCNewsMedia / @BBCWorld in 10 minutes to talk about the Korean impeachment."


This Tweet neatly foreshadowed the moment that he attained international attention. He had no doubt spend many years pursuing an academic career in relative obscurity yet just 50-seconds of live television could propel him to global stardom.

5. The unsubstantiated theories

The best conspiracy theory was that the whole little scenario had been scripted from the get-go. There were also theories that the children had escaped supervision while the mother took a toilet break, that she used more force than necessary to remove them and that the reason the professor did not stand up to evict the children himself was that he was not suitably attired below the waist. Yes, some people have far too much time on their hands.

6. The disregard for the subjects

They were joked about and speculated about. We made assumptions about their family dynamics and critiqued their parenting skills. But what we often failed to do was remember that these people are not reality TV stars or cartoon characters designed for our entertainment; they're members of an ordinary family in the eye of a social media storm. It's not a comfortable situation for anyone to be in. However, these particular parents can console themselves with one thought: at least the question of what hilarious footage to show at their children's twenty-first-birthday celebrations has been well and truly answered.