BBC Panda Woman Of The Year – Leave it to the BBC to include a Panda named Tian Tian in his 2011 “Woman of the Year” lineup.
In fact, a lot of the choices were uncontroversial: Eman al-Obeidi, the defiant victim of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime; Gabrielle Giffords, the US congresswoman; Pauline Pearce, the “Hackney heroine” of the riots.
But then the BBC’s selection of women “Faces of the year 2011” took a turn for the bizarre with its final choice: Tian Tian (aka Sweetie) the panda, who arrived at Edinburgh zoo from China. The selection, on the BBC’s online Magazine, has provoked outrage .
The men’s page included the likes of actor Colin Firth, prospective Republic presidential nominee Herman Cain, and News of the World journalist Paul McMullan for his whistleblowing role in the phone-hacking scandal. Unlike the women’s page, all of the individuals were people. Yang Guang, the male panda brought to Edinburgh with Tian Tian, was not included.
The selection follows the BBC’s failure to nominate a woman on the 10-strong shortlist for the Sports Personality of the Year award. The BBC included Tian Tian on the British and international versions of the list. Many of the people on the list, such as the “undercover cop” Mark Kennedy and Liam Fox’s friend Adam Werritty, were included more for their notoriety than their achievements.
Freelance journalist Bob Chaundy, whose name appears at the bottom of the BBC’s webpage, agreed it was an odd choice. He told the Guardian the selection was put together by BBC editors and that he merely wrote up their choices.
Chaundy added that the choice was supposed to be eclectic and light hearted. “When you do faces of the year it’s not like Time [magazine’s] faces of the year. They’ve picked slightly offbeat people. It’s not David Attenborough or Barack Obama,” he said.
Responding to the debacle, which sent the Twitter hashtag #pandagate trending, Chaundy tweeted: “I didn’t choose the BBC women faces of the year subjects, just wrote them. Two black eyes from wife though. Pandamonium!”