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Hi Guy, Please Come This Way

All hail Guy Goma, the video hero of the day, the everyman who had his deer-in-the-headlights moment and passed with glorious ease. Hey, anybody can do it, it's TV news!

Goma, in case you haven't seen the delicious vid, is the British accountant who, despite knowing English for just four years and being an utter neophyte at broadcasting, held his own when he was mistakenly ushered onto a BBC-TV set to be interviewed live about a topic on which he knew absolutely nothing.

Seems he was mistaken for another Guy, some expert on things Internet. While the real guest cooled his heels in the anteroom, our Guy--who was at BBC headquarters for a job interview--went on TV and gamely answered the ditzy anchor's softball questions.

Naturally, there's already a guygoma.com and it can't be long before he has his own show.

The Beeb is trying to be stand-up about the whole thing--they've reported the story about themselves and they have the video on their site--but they're also trying not to be a worldwide laughingstock, so their lawyers are busy demanding that lots of other sites take down the video, which was spreading madly throughout the globe.

The #1 question about the embarrassing incident is Did Goma get the computer job he was actually there to apply for? He hasn't yet heard, according to British news reports, but he did get a second shot on TV, this time to talk with BBC anchors about what the Brits call a "cock-up."

"I was very shocked. I just thought, 'Keep going'," Goma--an immigrant from the Congo--said of his first TV appearance.

This sort of thing happens, though not quite as dramatically, fairly often on TV and radio. People who indeed are expecting to be on the air are mistaken for a different guest or are asked questions about a topic they've never before heard of. Several of us at the Post have had moments on our new radio station in which we've been asked to sit down at the microphone and talk about, say, the Virginia Senate race and have instead heard through the headphones questions about the shootings of two Fairfax police officers. This happens in live broadcasting and it's part of the fun. Like Guy Goma, you just wing it.

The not-so-secret secret about live broadcasting is that the format generally follows a relatively easy pattern, with the questioner presenting the basics of the information, the guest adding a little morsel of a view or fact, and the two masticate the nugget for a little bit and then review and then we're onto the next salty infosnack. As a network TV anchorman put it to me before one of those guest shots, "Not to worry; it's TV."

Try it yourself at home. Watch any TV news interview and pretend you're the guest. You'll quickly see how easy it is to use the facts in the question, common sense, and basic knowledge of the world to repackage the question into a friendly, provocative and smoothly flowing response that has the aura of information. It's a fun parlor game--play it with the kids.

And someday, who knows, you too might find yourself ushered onto a stageset to become the guest on the Guy Goma Newshour.

By Marc Fisher |  May 20, 2006; 8:49 AM ET
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Comments

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I think Guy did a wonderful job with the interview! He should be hired for the job because he has truely shown flexibility and initiative. I think it would have been much more embarrasing for the anchor woman if he would have said "I'm not the right person" when the interview began. And the surprised look on his face was priceless!

And as for Marc calling the anchor woman "ditzy", it takes ditzy to know ditzy, Marc!

Posted by: Worker Bee | May 20, 2006 4:43 PM

A sad postscript to the Guy Goma story is that it "outed" him as an illegal immigrant. He is in the country under a tourist visa, so he is subject to deportation because he applied for a job without a work permit. It seems a shame he might be forced out of the country because of the Channel 24 fiasco and the publicity it generated.

Posted by: H | May 22, 2006 2:57 PM

Being a Brit, watching the incident on TV was highly amusing. The BBC never reported that guy wasn't supposed to be working in the UK. Anyone who follows any UK news will doubtlessly know that illigal immigrants, esacped prisoners, and mentally ill criminals are a common part of our lively, vibrant culture, it was about time they got a tv apperance!

Posted by: Tim Deacon | May 30, 2006 7:04 AM

All Hail Guy Goma.
Over here his 15 minutes of fame have turned into a minor z-list celebrity (which means he will probably appear on clebrity big brother in the future).he answered his questions very well for someone who hadn't a clue about the subject

Posted by: FredNathan101 | May 30, 2006 2:49 PM

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