A recent BBC Radio 4 program interview became awkward after its host failed to tell the difference between two Asian guests.
Dr. Riko Muranaka is an acclaimed doctor from Japan who is known for her support on the HPV vaccine, while Trinh T Minh-ha is an award-winning filmmaker from Vietnam. Despite the two women looking entirely different, “Woman’s Hour” host Jenni Murray ended up interviewing the wrong person on the show.
Murray first gave an introduction on Dr. Muranaka noting her contribution in promoting science on a matter of public interest and being the recipient of 2017’s John Maddox Prize.
But then, it was her guest filmmaker Minh-ha, whom she asked, “Riko, why did you pursue this subject?”
After a long silence, Murray tried asking her again, “Why did you pursue this subject?”
To this, the perplexed artist responded with, “Which subject are you pointing to?”
“The subject of the HPV vaccine. The 20 articles that you wrote on it,” Murray said.
“It’s not me,” Trinh replied.
“It’s not me,” she pointed out again. “I guess you got the wrong speaker.”
“You are Dr. Riko Muranaka?” said Murray, before realizing the mistake.“You’re not Dr. Riko Muranaka…”
“I’m Trinh T Minh-ha, the film-maker,” said Trinh.
Listen to the excruciating exchange here:
Addressing her listeners, the embarrassed host would later explain that “somebody has brought in the wrong person for this interview.”
The correct guest was then brought in after telling Trinh she would be interviewed a bit later.
“Now we have been joined by Dr. Muranaka. Sorry, there was a mix-up there,” Murray said.
Trinh would return later in the program to talk about her work.
Netizens criticized the blunder as a “car crash”, calling it “funny and quite embarrassing.” Others suggested that the show was simply unable to tell Asians apart.
“Perhaps all Asians look the same to the Woman’s Hour team,” one commenter said. Another asked, “Are these women interchangeable due to their respective races?”
While Murray did offer “apologies for the confusion,” BBC blamed the error on Trinh who reportedly stood up when a production team member summoned Dr. Muranaka. This was later confirmed by a spokesman for Trinh.
“Guests are brought on air quickly in live radio and mistakes can happen,” explained a BBC representative. “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.”
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