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The BBC's latest star - a baffled cabbie



He is the BBC's latest star - the cab driver who a leading presenter believed was a world expert on the internet music business.

The man stepped unwittingly into the national spotlight when he was interviewed by mistake on the corporation's News 24 channel.

With the seconds ticking down to a studio discussion about a court case involving Apple Computer and The Beatles' record label, a floor manager had run to reception and grabbed the man, thinking he was Guy Kewney, editor of Newswireless.net, a specialist internet publication. Actually, he was a minicab driver who had been waiting to drive Mr Kewney home.

Video: Watch the interview here

Baffled, but compliant, the driver was fitted with a microphone and allowed himself to be marched in to the studio. Cameras rolled, and he was quizzed live on air by consumer affairs correspondent Karen Bowerman - who missed the cabbie's panic-stricken expression when he realised he was being interviewed.

Despite knowing nothing about the case - a judge ruled that the computer company could continue to use the Apple symbol for its iTunes download service - the man gamely attempted to bluff his way through and, speaking in a strong French accent, sustained a (somewhat illogical) form of conversation. Meanwhile, the real Mr Kewney watched indignantly on a monitor in reception.

A tape of the exchange, broadcast on Monday morning, has become a classic among BBC workers.

It starts with the mystery man's horrified expression as Ms Bowerman introduces him as a technology expert, followed by his plucky attempt to answer her question on whether he was surprised by the verdict.

Yes, he says with feeling. It was a 'big surprise'. After an increasingly confusing exchange, the presenter cut with relief to the BBC's equally puzzled reporter outside the court, while the taxi driver was hurried out of the studio.

The BBC apologised, saying the mistake occurred because the man was wearing Mr Kewney's name tag. Mr Kewney said: "Everyone seems to think he was a taxi driver waiting in reception to take me home. But no one knows for sure."

He added: "There were several surprising things about 'my' interview. Judging by my performance, English wasn't my first language and I didn't seem to know much about Apple, online music or The Beatles."

He said the taxi driver "seemed as baffled as I felt". Last night, the driver's identity remained a mystery. None of the taxi firms regularly used by the BBC would admit to employing him. Do you know the mystery cab driver? Contact the newsdesk on 020 7938 7021 or by email at [email protected].

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BBC News 'wrong Guy' is revealed


The true identity of a man who was mistakenly interviewed on BBC News 24 has been revealed.


Guy Goma, a graduate from the Congo, appeared on the news channel in place of an IT expert after a mix-up.


But Mr Goma, who was wrongly identified in the press as a taxi driver, was really at the BBC for a job interview.


Mr Goma said his appearance was "very stressful" and wondered why the questions were not related to the data support cleanser job he applied for.


The mix-up occurred when a producer went to collect the expert from the wrong reception in BBC Television Centre in West London.


The producer asked for Guy Kewney, editor of Newswireless.net, who was due to be interviewed about the Apple vs Apple court case.


After being pointed in Mr Goma's direction by a receptionist, the producer - who had seen a photo of the real expert - checked: "Are you Guy Kewney?"


The economics and business studies graduate answered in the affirmative and was whisked up to the studio.


Business presenter Karen Bowerman, who was to interview the expert, managed to get a message to the editor that the guest seemed "very breathless and nervous".


Mr Goma was eventually asked three questions live on air, assuming this was an interview situation.


It was only later that it was discovered that Mr Kewney was still waiting in reception - prompting producers to wonder who their wrong man was.


Mr Goma said his interview was "very short", but he was prepared to return to the airwaves and was "happy to speak about any situation".


He added that next time he would insist upon "preparing myself".


A BBC spokeswoman said: "This has turned out to be a genuine misunderstanding.


"We've looked carefully at our guest procedures and will take every measure to ensure this doesn't happen again."



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Really, what matters is that the BBC doesn't look stupid...by Guy J Kewney | posted on 10 May 2006

reallynotblack.jpgThere I was, waiting at BBC Television Centre, to be interviewed on the BBC's News 24 TV channel.

I'd been hired as an expert commentator about matters relating to Apple, iPods, computer copyright, and the Beatles. And I was due on at 10.30, when the High Court judgement was due on the lawsuit where Apple Corps (the Beatles) has been suing Apple Computer (Steve Jobs).

- and here it's 10.29 so, yes, I'm somewhat anxious, because I'm still in reception, not in the studio. That's after one or two "Excuse me, but… do they know?" style queries with reception, asking if they have, indeed, told the studio I'm here. And they have. "Someone will be down for you," I'm assured.

Am I ready for this fifteen seconds of fame? Oh, yes, I'm ready. I've spent the weekend researching the lawsuit. I�ve researched the real legal experts like Alice Graves, and I'm prepared to compare the iPod with a blank CD. At my normal rates, work like this would cost you a few hundred quid. But this being the BBC, I'm doing it for nothing � as most of us do, these days, in order that they can pay Jonathan Ross several million a year...

It is at this point, just about a minute before I'm due to go on, that anybody watching the channel would have been fascinated to see me introduced live on air, as the expert witness in the studio. Me? Not fascinated; astonished!

What would you feel, if while you were sitting in that rather chilly reception area, you suddenly saw yourself � not sitting in reception, but live, on TV? "A bit surprised?"

There were several surprising things about my interview. We'll ignore the fact that I wasn't giving it, and had not given it. We'll even gloss over the fact that, judging by my performance, English wasn't my first language, and that I didn't seem to know much about Apple Computer, online music, or the Beatles. People have accused me of all those things, at various stages of my career.

But let's admit it: of all the things you can say about me, one word that really has to be deleted from the list is this one: "Black." We're talking biometrics, here. We're talking about "twins separated at birth, only their mother could tell them apart"... NOT!


I'm not black. I'm not black on a startling scale; I'm fair-haired, blue-eyed, prominent-nosed, and with the sort of pale skin that makes my dermatologist wince each time I complain about an itchy mole. I'm a walking candidate for chronic sunburn damage. I�m really, really not black.

But the guy on screen - sorry, the "Guy Kewney" live, on screen, definitely was. Black. Also, he spoke with a French-sounding accent, and he seemed as baffled as I felt.


At first, he seemed puzzled that anybody might imagine that the lawsuit had consequences, and suggested that people would still be able to download music from Internet cafes. But what about Apple? "I don't know. I�m not at all sure what I'm doing here," he admitted sadly, as they finally twigged that something was going badly wrong, and hustled him off the set.

You and me, both, kid... and so, how did it happen?

At first, I�ll admit, I thought it was hilarious. I asked the studio manager, when he finally appeared, what on earth was going on. The story he had to tell was pure farce.

"I'm dreadfully sorry!" said the studio manager, wringing his hands as if he wanted to suddenly take the day off, retrospectively. "It seems I rang Reception, not the Stage Door, and asked if you were there. And they said yes!"

So he went down to reception, and was introduced to me. That is, not this pink me, but the other, black me. Until we find out who he actually was, it�s a simple mystery how he persuaded BBC�s receptionists that he was me, and that's before we ask "Why?".

But, having done that, he had Evidence: a security pass with his name on. And that, it seems, is the definitive article; it must be True! And any other evidence could be discounted.

"Well, to be honest, I did think it couldn't be you. I mean, I've seen your picture on your web site, and he didn't look like you. So I asked him who he was, and he said: 'Guy Kewney' and I said 'Are you really Guy Kewney?' and he said yes. And I asked reception if that was you, and they said yes!"

So that was that, and they took him upstairs and put him in front of the camera. Security passes can't lie.

So if you have Sky Plus, or some other kind of personal video digital recorder (Tivo or similar) and manage to find the playback footage of the interview at 10.30, Monday May 8th, and spot the rather baffled interviewee, could you see if you know who he really is?

"We're completely baffled!" said the manager. "We asked him after his interview, if there was a problem. He said: "Well, it was OK, but I was a bit rushed..." and then he went home."

The blog item shows that I was really looking forward to doing the interview. Never mind the glory of being on the BBC, what about the enhancement such an interview offers to your professional reputation? And all gone…

Perhaps my disappointment showed on my innocent young (pink) face, because they took me upstairs and recorded a "piece to camera" where I explained my thoughts. That was some consolation, because (I reasoned) at least the world would find out that perhaps I wasn�t a complete ignoramus, without the ability to communicate in good English. Yes, I�d wasted several hours of my life, but! � at least I was getting some good publicity out of it.

Not so. Unfortunately, what I thought will remain a secret, because shortly after I did that, Apple Corps made its lawyer available for interview outside the High Court, and for some reason, the producers seem to have decided that his opinion about what would happen in the future was more important than mine. He said Apple Corps would appeal. He thought the Judge got it wrong. That was pretty much my opinion, too, but the BBC decided they preferred to have him saying it.

Well, I am very pink, so maybe that's understandable.

But the unworthy thought does persist that perhaps, those producers don�t care much about the fact that my reputation was completely shredded by the way they put up an ignoramus and claimed he was me. And the further unworthy thought occurs: that, possibly, the production mind is simply focused on the fact that if they put up my (real) interview, someone might realise that one of those Guy Kewneys could not be the real one, and that (no! surely not?) the BBC had made a complete arse of itself.

So they sent my limo out again, for someone else - a friend of mine, as it happens � Rupert Goodwins. And they asked him all the questions they�d asked me, and he gave pretty much the same sort of answers as I had done, about eight hours after I�d given them.

And the fact that a few hundred thousand people in the world are now under the impression that I�m an ignoramus who knows nothing about technology or Apple or iPods, and has a very poor command of English? � well, that�s not the Beeb�s problem, is it? After all, is a journalist going to sue the BBC and get blacklisted? Of course not!

So, if I�m not going to sue, who cares how unhappy I am?

Sense of humour failure? Me? What makes you think that?

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