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"Cab driver" becomes internet expert in BBC mixup

Written by: Staff
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LONDON, May 15 (Reuters) The BBC has apologised after putting a mystery man, possibly a taxi driver, on the air in a live interview, mistaking him for a computer expert who was waiting at the reception desk.

The man's mouth opened in horror as the camera cut to him in the British Broadcasting Corporation's News-24 television studio, where he had been seated on a stool by a floor manager, a microphone clipped to his lapel.

A business presenter, sitting opposite, introduced the clearly startled man as the editor of a technology website, and asked if he was surprised by computer company Apple's victory in a trademark dispute over The Beatles' Apple Corps.

''I'm very surprised to see this verdict to come on me because I was not expecting that,'' he replied, with a strong French accent, in broken English. ''When I came they told me something else and I'm coming ... so a big surprise anyway.'' He gamely answered two more questions about music downloading, before the presenter thanked him and moved on.

The BBC said it still did not know who he was but newspapers reported he was thought to be a taxi driver who happened to be at reception when a floor manager came to fetch the guest.

The real website editor, Guy Kewney, who watched with astonishment at reception, said the mixup was hard to explain because BBC staff had seen his picture in advance. Kewney is white and the mystery guest was black.

''He seemed as baffled as I felt,'' Kewney wrote on his web site www.newswireless.net, which has a link to the interview, broadcast live on Friday.

REUTERS SHB BD2057

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