BBC admits University Challenge banana boots slip-up

banana boots Image copyright Glasgow City Council
Image caption Edmund Smith created the boots for Billy Connolly in 1975

The BBC has upheld a complaint from the daughter of a Scottish artist after Jeremy Paxman gave the wrong answer to a question on University Challenge.

The quiz show host incorrectly attributed Billy Connolly's banana boots to artist John Byrne rather than their true creator Edmund Smith.

Glasgow pop artist Smith made the size 9 bananas for the comedian in 1975.

The BBC said it had drawn the "oversight" to the attention of the programme's producers.

The error was made during a Christmas celebrity special of the quiz show, broadcast on 27 December 2016.

'Funny answer'

During the semi final, presenter Jeremy Wade, journalist Shiulie Ghosh and Prof Jamie Angus - for the University of Kent - were asked by Paxman: "Born in Paisley in 1940, which artist and playwright designed Billy Connolly's banana boots and wrote the 'Slab Boys trilogy' for the theatre and the series Tutti Frutti for television?"

After a few seconds deliberation, team captain Paul Ross replied: "Nicola Sturgeon".

To which Paxman responded: "Funny answer, but not right. John Byrne".

Image caption The University of Kent team featured Jeremy Wade, Shiulie Ghosh, Paul Ross and Prof Jamie Angus

The BBC acknowledged that the answer was wrong and conceded that the correct information was widely available, including from the biography of Billy Connolly, written by his wife Pamela Stephenson.

In a ruling from the Complaints Unit, the BBC said: "The daughter of Edmund Smith complained that the answer was incorrect, her father having designed and made the boots in question.

"Evidence from several sources, including a detailed account of the matter in Pamela Stephenson's biography of Billy Connolly, confirmed that the boots had been designed and made by Edmund Smith.

"The executive producer responsible for oversight of the series drew the finding to the attention of the independent production company which makes it."

Edmund Smith's banana boots are currently on display at the People's Palace Museum at Glasgow Green.

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