A newsreader has gone viral after reacting in horror to being caught daydreaming on live TV.
Natasha Exelby, a freelance TV journalist at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) spectacularly missed her cue when a pre-recorded broadcast cut back to her in the studio over the weekend. She was seen absent-mindedly fiddling with her pen, before realising she was on air and gasping in shock.
Despite her alarm, Exelby was able to quickly recover her composure and continue reading the news. However, after rumours circulated that “humourless management” at the ABC had banned her from appearing on air again, an executive at the TV network has insisted that her job is safe.
Gaven Morris, director of news at the ABC, said that reports that Exelby would be fired or banned from the air are inaccurate.
“Live television is a demanding art and slip-ups will happen – our presenters are humans, not robots,” Morris told the Guardian.
Since her blooper video went viral, Exelby has become something of a national hero in Australia, with the public rallying around her gaffe.
A petition for the newsreader – who works for the ABC in a “casual” freelance capacity – to be returned to the air had attracted more than 5,000 signatures by lunchtime on Tuesday.
Prominent figures including Russell Crowe and former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (who was once caught on camera swearing repeatedly, in a viral video titled ‘Kevin Rudd is a Happy Little Vegemite’) have also spoken out in support of Exelby.
Exelby’s fellow journalists, meanwhile, have been sharing stories of their own on-air mishaps in solidarity – using the hashtag #putyourbloopersout.
Exelby herself has remained tight-lipped on the matter, save for a tweet on Monday in which she thanked the public for their “generous support”.
“Not my finest hour,” she wrote. “Myself and my mesmerising pen honourably salute you!”