Viral professor returns to model shared parenting

Korea expert Professor Robert Kelly became famous when his children crashed a TV appearance. But today’s turn on telly put his kids centre stage.


He was the dry professor who became an internet hit when his kids invaded his study while he was pontificating live on TV.

Now Robert Kelly has returned to TV screens demonstrating the sort of attitude many dads ought to follow through the coronavirus crisis.

Back in 2017 Professor Robert Kelly was pontificating on BBC News about the latest tensions between North and South Korea.

In a clip now viewed 36 million times his toddler marches through the door behind him only to be followed by a baby in a walker. The professor tries to carry on talking to camera while holding his children back before his wife dashes in to retrieve the errant offspring.


But when Professor Kelly appeared on the BBC today it was a different story. This time he was talking about the lockdown in South Korea. More importantly he had his partner by his side and his children on screen with him. He hugged his daughter. She practicing making funny faces. His son wandered off during the clip in apparent boredom and returned with a computer game.

Professor Kelly couldn’t help but say “Sorry about my children”. But the BBC anchor reassured him that he, especially, never has to apologise for his children.

Concerns have been raised that with families juggling childcare, homeschooling and working from home the bulk of the extra caring responsibilities with inevitably fall on mums. However Professor Kelly and his family seemed to be modelling a more equal approach to parenting.


Ian Dinwiddy, who runs coaching business Inspiring Dads, said, “It’s vital that the extra burdens this coronavirus crisis is putting on families do not fall largely on one parent. Professor Robert Kelly made millions chuckle with that famous clip of his kids crashing his turn on TV. It is particularly pleasing to see him back and modelling equal parenting and the ‘new normal’.

“Employers and TV interviewers need to understand we working parents are juggling a number of different roles at the moment. Having his kids there with him didn’t make him any less expert, in fact it showed that he clearly values his role as father alongside his job as a leading academic. As we all make changes to our lives, the notion that it is possible to cleanly separate work and family is becoming increasingly hard to reconcile with real life.”


John Adams, author of dadbloguk, the nation’s leading dad blog said that the example of Professor Robert Kelly speaks to bigger issues. He said, “This is much more than a childcare issue. In most households there will be two parents and in most cases both of them will be working, even if it is part time. They will be living and working in the same property while also homeschooling their kids. On top of that, families are having to follow guidance about social distancing while parks, cafes, museums are closed to them. If not managed properly, it could be a tinderbox and a source of huge discord and resentment.

“As far as is possible, chores and homeschooling responsibilities need to be shared between mum and dad. Work commitments may mean they can’t be shared 50/50 but there will be much more in the way of housework and childcare to do. Everyone will need to play their part. Of course, one of the potentially positive outcomes of this whole affair will be greater gender equality on the domestic front after months of families living in such close proximity to each other.”

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