'BBC Dad' is back and he still can't get work done, thanks to his kids

New video of Professor Robert Kelly's family shows Marion and James haven't lost their sassy style.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
2 min read

Professor Robert Kelly spoke to the BBC about something he knows a lot about -- trying to work from home with lively kids underfoot.

BBC video screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET

Working at home with young kids during the coronavirus outbreak isn't easy for anyone, but one well-known dad has been there before. Professor Robert Kelly earned the nickname "BBC Dad" back in 2017 when his two kids invaded the Skype interview he was conducting with the BBC. First 4-year-old daughter Marion strutted in, then 8-month-old James followed in his rolling walker.  Last, Kelly's wife, Jung-a Kim, desperately yanked the kids back out. That first video earned more than 36 million views.

Now, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Kelly family gave a new interview to the BBC, and the kids were invited to this one from the start. And they were just as rambunctious as ever, with Marion jumping on and off of Dad's lap, and James hopping off the chair and eventually ducking out of the room entirely.

Kelly apologized for his kids' liveliness, only to be told by the BBC anchor, "That's one thing you can never apologize for now, it's part of the scene, it's what we expect."

Asked about the transformation into a work-at-home world, Kelly responded, "As you can see, (working from home with kids) is very difficult. ... I get maybe two hours of work, maybe three, done a day ... we're fighting with them all the time. ... There are only so many games you can play and puzzles you can do before they ... run around."

When his kids let him talk, Kelly told the BBC he thought the measures being used by South Korea, ranging from extensive testing to an app showing infected areas, seemed to be working to reduce infection. He also went on to note that the South Korean government "has an infrastructure left over from previous experiences with these sorts of outbreaks, and all that sort of kicked back in." 

Kelly, an American-born professor at Pusan National University, is a regular BBC interview subject on Korean issues. In 2018, he commented on the North Korean and South Korean Olympic athletes marching together in the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games -- but no kids interrupted that time.

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