Digital reports: He is the BBC’s latest star – the cab driver who a leading presenter believed was a world expert on the internet music business.
The man stepped unwittingly into the national spotlight when he was interviewed by mistake on the corporation’s News 24 channel.
With the seconds ticking down to a studio discussion about a court case involving Apple Computer and The Beatles’ record label, a floor manager had run to reception and grabbed the man, thinking he was Guy Kewney, editor of Newswireless.net, a specialist internet publication.
Actually, he was a minicab driver who had been waiting to drive Mr Kewney home.
Baffled, but compliant, the driver was fitted with a microphone and allowed himself to be marched in to the studio. Cameras rolled, and he was quizzed live on air by consumer affairs correspondent Karen Bowerman – who missed the cabbie’s panic-stricken expression when he realised he was being interviewed.
Despite knowing nothing about the case – a judge ruled that the computer company could continue to use the Apple symbol for its iTunes download service – the man gamely attempted to bluff his way through and, speaking in a strong French accent, sustained a (somewhat illogical) form of conversation. Meanwhile, the real Mr Kewney watched indignantly on a monitor in reception.
A tape of the exchange, broadcast on Monday morning, has become a classic among BBC workers.
It starts with the mystery man’s horrified expression as Ms Bowerman introduces him as a technology expert, followed by his plucky attempt to answer her question on whether he was surprised by the verdict.
Yes, he says with feeling. It was a ‘big surprise’. After an increasingly confusing exchange, the presenter cut with relief to the BBC’s equally puzzled reporter outside the court, while the taxi driver was hurried out of the studio.
The BBC apologised, saying the mistake occurred because the man was wearing Mr Kewney’s name tag. Mr Kewney said: "Everyone seems to think he was a taxi driver waiting in reception to take me home. But no one knows for sure."
He added: "There were several surprising things about ‘my’ interview. Judging by my performance, English wasn’t my first language and I didn’t seem to know much about Apple, online music or The Beatles."
He said the taxi driver "seemed as baffled as I felt". Last night, the driver’s identity remained a mystery. None of the taxi firms regularly used by the BBC would admit to employing him.