Feel-Good Friday: BBC Dad edition

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Six years ago this week, perhaps the funniest video on YouTube most of us have ever seen was posted. Professor Robert Kelly was doing an interview with the BBC from his home office on South Korean politics when his young daughter burst into the room and began stomping around. The interviewer noted her appearance, and Kelly tried to gently push her aside as he continued the interview. Then his even younger son came into the room in his baby walker to add to the chaos. Kelly’s poor wife ran into the room, realized her husband was live on BBC television, and quickly wrangled the kids and got them out.


I still laugh every time I see it. That was in March 2017. Now the children are more grown up and Professor Kelly wanted to mark the occasion of their YouTube debut. He posted some family photos as he thanked the internet for the support.

“Some BBC Dad content since the 6th anniversary of the original video was last Friday. Marion had a singing performance this past weekend, so we got some nice family pictures.

“Thanks again to all of you who follow me bc of the video.

“My family and I [are] flattered by your kindness.”

His daughter is now 10 years old and his son is 6. Everyone still laughs at the video.


The family received instant fame when the video went viral. The kids became subjects of an animated cartoon show.

American company Hans House launched the online animated series Mina and Jack, with brother and sister protagonists that share many similarities to Marion and James.

While the show does take its liberties, changing the children’s father’s job from professor to UN official, the mother character is a yoga teacher just like in real life.

Things got weird for the family immediately after the interview. Kelly thought his days of punditry were over. Then the BBC producer of his interview called and asked for his permission to publish the video clip. Kelly asked, “What would that mean? Is this the kinda thing that goes ‘viral’ and gets weird?”

Still not realising how weird things would get, and wary of saying no to a broadcaster he felt he had failed, Kelly agreed to the request. The academic, used only to the kind of notoriety that came with foreign policy op eds in the Wall Street Journal, was about to gain an unwanted diploma in viral fame.

In the coming hours and days, calls and emails poured in from newsrooms and TV studios. Reporters doorstepped his parents in Cleveland, Ohio, as well as his current and former students. The Ellen Show wanted the family on. A lot of the interest fell on Marion, who had stolen the scene with her innocent swagger. As she became a meme in her own right, her kindergarten deployed a security guard. “They were worried some weirdos would show up,” Kelly says.


That’s the downside to unexpected instant fame. Fortunately, it has all worked out for the family.

After a long week, it’s good to have something fun to watch and laugh out loud. Thanks, professor.

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