Guy Goma (born 1969) is a business studies graduate from Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo who was accidentally interviewed live on BBC News 24, a UK television news station, on Monday 8 May 2006. Goma was mistaken for technology expert Guy Kewney, and was brought onto a BBC special regarding the case Apple Corps v. Apple Computer to provide insight on a subject he knew little about.
Guy Goma was waiting in the main reception area of the BBC Television Centre in west London to be interviewed for a position as a "Data Support Cleanser" in the corporation's IT department. At the same time, Guy Kewney, a British technology expert, was in another reception area, known as Stage Door, preparing for a live television interview on the subject of Apple Computer's court case with The Beatles' record label, Apple Corps. The producer who was sent to fetch Kewney, however, was told that Kewney was in the main reception area. When he got there and asked the receptionist in person where Guy Kewney was, she pointed to Goma, even after being asked if she was sure that this was the right person.
The producer had seen a photo of Kewney, but only had five minutes before the live interview was due to take place. So he approached Goma and asked him if he was 'Guy'. Hearing his first name, Goma answered in the affirmative. Goma was led to the News 24 studio. BBC staffers put on makeup, and he was ushered to the television studio, where he was seated in front of the cameras and wired up with a microphone. Although believing the situation to be highly unusual, he prepared to do his best for what he believed would be his job interview.
When introduced by interviewer Karen Bowerman as Internet expert Guy Kewney, Goma became visibly shocked as he finally realised the serious misunderstanding that had taken place. Aware of the fact that he was on live television and not wishing to make a scene now that the interview had already begun, he simply played along, doing his best (in heavily French-accented English) to answer the interviewer's questions about the Apple Corps v. Apple Computer case and its ramifications for the music industry. Apart from the facial expression at the start, the interview seemed fairly believable to many viewers, particularly those unfamiliar with Kewney. In the meantime, Kewney, still in the waiting area, was himself shocked when he saw Goma interviewed in his place, though he was not able to hear the audio.
Transcript of the interview
- Karen Bowerman: Well, Guy Kewney is editor of the technology website Newswireless. [Camera flashes to Goma, with look of confusion and horror] Hello, good morning to you.
- Goma: Good morning.
- KB: Were you surprised by this verdict today?
- Goma: I am very surprised to see...this verdict to come on me, because I was not expecting that. When I came, they told me something else and I am coming. "You got an interview," that's all. So a big surprise anyway.
- KB: A big surprise, yeah, yes.
- Goma: Exactly.
- KB: With regards to the cost that's involved, do you think now more people will be downloading online?
- Goma: Actually, if you can go everywhere you're gonna see a lot of people downloading through Internet and the website, everything they want. But I think it is much better for the development and...eh...to inform people what they want, and to get on the easy way, and so faster if they are looking for.
- KB: This does really seem to be the way the music industry's progressing now, that people want to go onto the website and download music.
- Goma: Exactly. You can go everywhere on the cyber cafe, and you can take...you can go easy. It is going to be an easy way for everyone to get something through the Internet.
- KB: Guy Kewney, thanks very much indeed.
As soon as the mistake was detected the BBC recorded an interview with Kewney for later broadcast, which was never shown. The BBC instead brought in an alternative pundit, Rupert Goodwins, for the next live slot on the topic.
After Goma's interview was broadcast, it was mistakenly reported (even by the BBC itself, on Radio 4's Broadcasting House) that Goma, who moved to England from Congo in 2002, was a taxi driver. In fact, he does not drive a car.
Soon after his appearance, there was some speculation that Goma was in Britain illegally, having overstayed a tourist visa, and that he might be deported from the country. On 25 May 2006, it was announced that celebrity publicist Kizzi Nkwocha had begun representing Goma and that Goma's apparent visa problems had already been resolved three years earlier, allowing him to live and work in the UK indefinitely.
Goma and Kewney subsequently met.
On 16 May 2006, Goma appeared on Channel 4 News and was jokingly questioned by the presenter—introducing him as a Venezuelan citizen, a lawyer and a doctor respectively—on the topics of Hugo Chávez, the release of foreign prisoners into Britain, and Britons seeking medical treatment abroad. On the same day, he also appeared again on BBC News 24, but this time in a planned interview to talk about his experience.
Soon after, he made appearances on GMTV, ITV and BBC's Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. He was also a featured celebrity on the televised call-in panel of the Prince's Trust 30th Birthday Celebration on 20 May 2006. On 21 May 2006, Goma was interviewed on Channel 4's T4 programme about his experience.
Producer Alison Rosenzweig (Windtalkers) says she has begun developing a film based on his life, particularly this one incident, commenting "He's a fun, kind of internationally famous person that I think is an interesting source for movie material."
On 27 December 2006, Goma appeared on the Channel 4 television programme The Big Fat Quiz of the Year, as a mystery guest. After a commercial break, he took Jimmy Carr's place as host for a few seconds, welcoming the audience back to the show. Everyone on the quiz agreed that Goma was a better host than Carr, eventually leading to the audience and contestants heckling Carr and insulting his ability as a presenter, and chanting "Bring back Guy, bring back Guy!".
In a 2007 episode of The IT Crowd, "Smoke and Mirrors", Moss finds himself in a situation very similar to that of Goma's; writer Graham Linehan saw the Goma story on the Internet and incorporated it into his series.
- "BBC News 'wrong Guy' is revealed", BBC News, 16 May 2006.
- Guy Goma, interview on GMTV, 16 May 2006
- "'Wrong guy' loses shirt for Oxfam", BBC News, 30 May 2006.
- "BBC talks of iPod people as my identity is stolen" by Guy Kewney, IT Week, 15 May 2006.
- "Pundit is big bluffer" by Jerome Starkey, The Sun, 2006.
- "BBC's instant celebrity may be deported", United Press International, 21 May 2006.
- "SHOWBIZ BECKONS FOR BBC INTERVIEWEE". The Voice. GV. 25 May 2006.
- "guygoma.com". Retrieved 24 August 2006.
- Finally! Guy Goma and Guy Kewney manage to get into the same frame..., by Guy Kewney, at NewsWireless.net; published July 7, 2007; retrieved February 24, 2015
- "Guy Goma recalls his experience" (RealPlayer). BBC News. 16 May 2006.
- "BBC's internet 'expert' returns to face the music", The Mail on Sunday, 16 May 2006.
- "'Wrong Guy' could inspire movie". BBC News. 23 August 2006.
- Channel 4 rerun of Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2006, 30 December 2006
- Linehan, Graham (2 December 2008). Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe [Television production]. London: BBC Four.
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- BBC News story
- Transcript of the interview
- Revealed: The identity of the BBC's latest star The Mail on Sunday, 13 May 2006
- Guy Goma gets movie Globa-Tech Today, 28 August 2006
- Guy Goma signatures for president
- Story from NPR All Things Considered program, 15 May 2006