In what could easily qualify as one of the most cringe-worthy interviews this year, a BBC Radio host ended up interviewing the wrong person after she failed to tell apart the difference between two Asian women.
”Woman's Hour” host Jenni Murray enthusiastically introduced her guest as Japanese doctor Riko Muranaka, the winner of this year's John Maddox Prize for “promoting science” about the safety of the HPV vaccine.
Murray went on to asking "Muranaka" why she chose to pursue that particular subject, but received no reply from her perplexed guest primarily — because she was not Muranaka. She was Trinh T. Minh-ha, a Vietnamese filmmaker.
The exchange that followed was as awkward as one would expect.
"Riko, why did you pursue this subject?” Murray asked Minh-ha, who didn't say anything.
“Why did you pursue this subject?” Murray repeated the question.
“Which subject are you pointing to?” asked a confused Minh-ha.
“The subject of the HPV vaccine,” Murray added. “The 20 articles that you wrote on it.”
“It’s not me. I guess you got the wrong speaker,” Minh-ha responded awkwardly.
“You are Dr. Riko Muranaka,” Murray noted, before correcting herself. “You’re not Dr. Riko Muranaka.”
At 10am, the winner of the #MaddoxPrize for science: Doctor Riko Muranaka. She tells us about her prize-winning work promoting the HPV vaccine - in the face of opposition which saw the vaccination rate in Japan fall from over 70% to 1% pic.twitter.com/hoE4sBBMgh— BBC Woman's Hour (@BBCWomansHour) December 1, 2017
The BBC addressed the excruciating gaffe, saying Minh-ha accidentally stood up when they called Muranaka's name for the interview.
“Guests are brought on air quickly in live radio and mistakes can happen. On this occasion the wrong guest came forward when the names were called for the studio and to suggest this was a mix-up for any other reason is incorrect,” a BBC spokesperson told The Telegraph.
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