BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker apologises to female professor over sexist error

BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker has apologised to a female professor after she was not given her title while her male colleague was on Wednesday morning.

In scenes aired on BBC One, reporter Tim Muffett interviewed people who experienced a loss of taste and smell after testing positive for coronavirus.

During the chat, Tim spoke to Tim spoke to Professor Claire Hopkins but when she was introduced she was not referred to as a professor.

Also, when she appeared on the screen her description failed to clarify she was a professor and simply stated ‘Claire Hopkins, Ear, Nose and Throat surgeon’.

After Tim’s report, Dan and co-host Louise Minchin spoke to Chrissi Kelly from the organisation AbScent and consultant ear, nose and throat surgeon Professor Nirmal Kumar via video link from the studio.

BBC Breakfast's Dan Walker
BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker has apologised to a female professor after she was not given her title while her male colleague

Louise addressed Professor Kumar with his title and he referred to his colleague as “Professor Hopkins.”

After the news programme ended Professor Hopkins noted that her male colleague was addressed with his title and that she wasn’t.

The accomplished professor typed on Twitter : “Spot the difference…. delighted to take part in an interview on BBC breakfast this morning with my colleague. ‘We are both Professors and Consultant ENT surgeons…..why don’t we get treated in the same way? #untitling #unconcious bias [sic].”

BBC’s Dan noticed her message on the micro-blogging site and issued an apology.

He tweeted: “Good morning Professor. First of all, apologies. I have spoken to my boss. Not sure what happened as we are normally very tight on titles of guests.

Professor Claire Hopkins was not referred to as a professor on Wednesday

Professor Nirmal Kumar had his title

“What I can say, and it’s not an excuse, is that you were in the package and he was a live guest off the back so the ‘astons’ as we call them – would have been made by different people.

“It still shouldn’t have happened though. Thank you for flagging it up, thanks for your hard work & hopefully we’ll get to speak to you again soon.’ While Professor Hopkins accepted the apology, she noted it wasn’t the first time it had happened.”

Dan apologised to Professor Claire Hopkins after she took to Twitter

Revealing that is was no the first time that the surgeon has experienced the blunder, Professor Claire Hopkins replied: “Thanks for the apology. Same thing happened when you introduced me during a live interview last year too, when you spoke with ‘Claire and Professor Semple’…. when coming on to give an expert opinion, titles matter.

“Everywhere else, I’d be delighted if called me Claire.”

When approached by the Mirror for comment a BBC Spokesperson said: “We have contacted Professor Hopkins and explained it was human error.”

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