'BBC Dad' reflects on viral work-from-home moment: 'Mostly fun, sometimes weird'

Professor Robert Kelly, better known as "BBC Dad,'' has some things he wants you to know about his family's viral moment in 2017.

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By Scott Stump

Editor's note: This story was originally published on TODAY on March 13, 2018. We're revisiting it now in solidarity with all the parents who are trying to work from home with children underfoot during this time of social distancing.

The professor known as "BBC Dad" would like to set a few things straight.

No, it wasn't staged. And yes, he was wearing pants.

Robert Kelly, who inadvertently became a viral star in 2017 when his two children barged into a live interview he was giving, reflected on his family's internet fame in an essay published by an Australian think tank.

"BBC Dad" Robert Kelly and his family had working parents everywhere laughing and nodding at their hilarious viral video.Ha Kyung-min / AP

"People often ask me and my wife what it has been like to suddenly become virally famous,'' he wrote. "It has mostly been fun, and sometimes weird."

The "BBC Dad" moniker, he concedes, is something "I will likely carry with me for the rest of my life."

In March of 2017, Kelly, an associate professor of political science at Pusan National University in South Korea, was speaking live from his home office about the ouster of South Korean president Park Geun-hye when all hell broke loose behind him.

His daughter, Marion, who was 4 at the time, burst into his office with a "hippity-hoppity" strut that has since become internet shorthand for confidently entering a room.

Baby brother James rolled in behind her before Kelly's wife, Kim Jung-A, scrambled to corral the toddlers and hustle them out of the room. Somehow, Kelly kept his composure through the whole scene.

Later, at a press conference to address the viral moment, Marion stole the show with her pink glasses and stylish outfit.

In his essay for the Lowy Institute, Kelly sought to put to bed bizarre conspiracy theories, including one that the moment was staged to gain notoriety for his family.

"Our children were 9 months and 4 years old, respectively, at the time,'' he wrote. "I cannot imagine trying to coordinate anything this complicated with children of that age. Sorry, it was just a legitimate family blooper."

He also addressed the rumor that he didn't stand up to shoo his children away because he wasn't wearing pants.

He indeed had pants on, he said; he was just hoping BBC correspondent James Menendez might cut the interview short.

"I did not stand up because, as they say, the show must go on,'' Kelly wrote. "Had I stood up and broken out of frame, any semblance of professionalism would have been lost."

Kelly also wrote about his family's loss of anonymity as they became minor celebrities in South Korea. He has caught people taking pictures of him buying milk at Costco.

"Apparently BBC Dad's calcium consumption is a hot issue,'' he wrote.

The biggest reaction has come from fellow parents, who could relate to Kelly's attempt to balance his work and home life.

"Many of the comments we received were from parents who had had similar experiences, such as locking themselves in the bathroom so their kids could not interrupt a radio interview,'' he wrote.

He noted that the family has made a few bucks off the video, but nothing substantial. The biggest plus has been the increased number of invitations to speak at events.

"I was also invited to the Philippines and China, where I was introduced on one panel as 'BBC Dad ... and, oh yeah, an expert on Korea,'" he said.

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.