BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker has apologised to a guest on the show after she was not referred to by her proper title, but her male colleague was.
During today's (February 10) episode of the morning show, reporter Tim Muffett spoke to Professor Claire Hopkins as part of a report on people with COVID-19 losing their sense of taste and smell.
However, she was only referred to as "Claire Hopkins", in contrast to male colleague Professor Nirmal Kumar, who the BBC Breakfast team spoke to live after the segment had aired.
Later on, Professor Hopkins tweeted about the difference, writing: "Spot the difference.... delighted to take part in an interview on BBC Breakfast this morning with my colleague. We are both Professors and Consultant ENT surgeons.....why don't we get treated in the same way? #untitling #unconcious bias."
Walker responded to the tweet with an apology, saying: "Good morning Professor. First of all, apologies. I have spoken to my boss. Not sure what happened as we are normally very tight on titles of guests. What I can say, and it's not an excuse, is that you were in the package and he was a live guest off the back so the 'astons'..."
Professor Hopkins then replied: "Thanks for the apology. Same thing happened when you introduced me during a live interview last year too, when you spoke with 'Claire and Professor Semple'.... when coming on to give an expert opinion, titles matter. Everywhere else, I'd be delighted if called me Claire."
Walker added: "Yes, I just realised that Claire. I think I apologised to you at the time too if I remember - which doesn't make it easier because that is now twice. Today I called your fellow Prof 'Nirmal' which was also in error. I know if probably feels like an issue but I can assure you that this is something we are normally hot on at breakfast.
"Anyway, I'm sorry you've had to tweet about this and I hope this is the last time. I'm annoyed on your behalf because I know how hard you have worked and trained to get to where you are."
"I'm sure we have all made similar mistakes many times over - it will take many years of conscious effort to overcome centuries of inequality and gender stereotypes," Professor Hopkins responded. "Thank-you for recognising it (twice) and here's hoping for third time lucky."
Walker added: "Appreciate your understanding & patience. Thank you."
A BBC spokesperson has since told Digital Spy: "We have contacted Professor Hopkins and explained it was human error."
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