Are We All ‘BBC Dad’ Now? What Covid19 Restrictions Reveal About Comedy, Class, Paid Work, Parenting and Gender
Keywords:Class, comedy, gender, parenting, covid-19
The meme ‘BBC Dad’ first emerged in 2017 in response to an ‘embarrassing’ moment where a Professor was interrupted by his family during a live interview with BBC news TV. At the time the incident was circulated around the world as a curiosity, as the worlds of work, domestic (family) life and gender politics combined in a way that was apparently so unacceptable that it was comedic. The expectation was that the ‘victim’, the Professor, should somehow be ashamed of how his two roles as ‘professional’ and ‘parent’ had been shown to be in competition in that moment. Although this competition is often played out, especially by women and working-class workers, it is rarely shown in public, let alone discussed. However, during the global pandemic in 2020 many workers and parents are being placed in this situation and forced to juggle their dual responsibilities often in the same space and in real time. By asking ‘Are we all ‘BBC Dad’ now?’, this article questions how we consider those who conduct paid work and parent simultaneously, noting how previously accepted class and gender divides have shifted culturally as a result of the physical restraints posed by COVID-19 restrictions. The ’comedy’ that the original meme provided, and the way its meaning has shifted, shows how expectations have changed and hopefully how attitudes to normally hidden workers may also shift.