25+ Moments When Live TV Went Catastrophically Wrong

BBC News interview the wrong man

You would probably think that a production team would double-check that they’ve got the right guest before sending them on TV… well, you’d be wrong. In 2006, BBC News were running a story on a legal dispute between Apple Corps and Apple Computers, and called their IT expert, Guy Kewney, in for an interview.

They actually ended up interviewing Guy Goma, who had come in for a job interview on the same day. Ever the professional, Goma didn't let the mix up deter him, and bravely powered through the discussion live on national television. He then attended the actual interview he came for, but to the dismay of the country, he was unsuccessful.

Sports reporter falls into a pool

Mike Bushell is known for his unconventional sports-related pieces on BBC News, with his most notorious moment coming in 2018 when he was interviewing Great Britain’s Commonwealth Games swimming team.

He stood on a ledge in the pool with his trousers rolled up, interviewing the swimmers one by one. However, when interviewing one swimmer, Bushell accidentally stepped off his ledge, going straight into the deep end, derailing the interview and making TV magic in the process.

Children walk in on a serious interview

When Professor Robert Kelly was giving a very serious interview about Korean politics live on the BBC in 2017, he could never have foreseen that he was going to be front and center in one of the most viral clips of the year.

During the interview, his four-year-old child walked in with a perfect comedic bounce and, as Kelly was ushering her away, his one-year-old wheeled in in a baby stroller. Chaos ensued as Kelly’s wife tried desperately to get their kids out of the room. Thankfully everyone saw the funny side, and Prof. Kelly and his family went on to become globally adored.

News reporter tells the world that his hips don’t lie

Communications between the production team, the studio presenters, and on-site news reporters need to be perfect at all times in order for live TV to work.

This wasn’t the case on Fox News, when the cameras suddenly cut to a reporter halfway through a sing-song of Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie. And who could blame him - it's super catchy!

Shaquille O’Neal falls over a power cord

Shaquille O’Neal is a big guy, and you’d think it would take a lot to knock him to the floor. Actually, all it takes is a well-placed power cord. When working as a presenter on Inside the NBA, Shaq was about to make his way over to another part of the studio for some more in-depth analysis.

Unfortunately, one of Shaq's long legs got caught in a power cord, pulling off his shoe and sending him sprawling over the studio floor. Luckily, Shaq walked away unharmed - except with perhaps a little wounding of his pride.

As cool as Crystal Pepsi

When reading out some audience messages about nostalgic things they remember from childhood, one news presenter read out a message talking about how they believed Crystal Pepsi was the coolest thing they’d ever seen.

It would have been a perfectly standard message had the presenter said Crystal Pepsi and not the name of a banned substance beginning with crystal instead.

Rafael Nadal bumps his head

Tunnel cameras offer tennis fans a great insight into what their favourite players do before they step out onto the court. As tennis great Rafael Nadal was limbering up for his match against Gilles Muller at Wimbledon in 2017, he decided to do a little jump to get his legs working.

The only problem is, he decided to jump under a rather low door frame, banging his head in the process. Luckily, Rafa took it in his stride, walking away from with a cheeky grin.

Car falls into water and sinks

News reporter Jakob Emerson was telling a story in front of a lake about a project in Illinois, when he noticed a pickup truck behind him was edging closer and closer to the water.

He jumped out of the way of the camera as the car descended, and sunk, into the lake. Thankfully, nobody was in the car at the time.

Accidental broadcast of a Satanic ritual

A news reporter on Australia’s ABC News had to keep a stern face after the program cut to a clip of a Satanic ritual, rather than back to her in the studio. The ritual was only shown for a very brief moment, but the presenter’s professionalism meant that they could brush it off as though nothing ever happened.

Whether or not the event was a prank or an actual Satanic ritual remains up for debate, but let's just say some people refuse to watch the show anymore.

Car almost hits a news reporter

A Fox News reporter was a hair’s width away from being injured after two cars crashed behind him during a report. The cars went skidding towards the reporter and his camera operator, with the two only dodging the oncoming vehicle at the very last moment.

Thankfully, neither the reporter nor his coworker was hurt, but the reporter learned a valuable lesson about not speaking from the side of the road.

Weather reporter’s dog steals the show

During the pandemic, live news had to think on its feet, minimizing the amount of staff in the studio however they could. This meant that some presenters had to do their job from home, including Global Toronto’s Anthony Farnell… and his dog.

Animals always manage to steal the show, and Farnell’s dog was no exception, putting himself front and center of the camera during a live weather report.

Rage Against The Machine’s Christmas performance

It’s probably not advisable to tell a notoriously rebellious artist what they can and can’t sing during a live performance. The BBC didn’t take the nature of Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against The Machine into account when kindly asking him not to swear during a song on a live Christmas broadcast.

As you can imagine, de la Rocha embarked on a tirade of naughty words before he was eventually cut off by the show’s presenters. Many were quick to point out that he did warn you he won't do what you tell him.

Presenter throws a man into the water

British morning show This Morning did an unorthodox weather report at Liverpool Docks in which the presenter stood on a map of the UK which was floating on water.

Allison Hammond was the presenter that day, and when hopping over to announce the Northern Irish weather, she went a little too fast, knocking her assistant into the icy cold water.

Live World Cup broadcast cuts to commercial and misses a goal

England was kicking off their miserable 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa with a match against the USA, when all of a sudden the coverage on UK channel ITV went to an unexpected commercial break.

The error was bad enough, but made so much worse by the fact that England scored their only goal of the game during the brief moment the match was off the air.

Reporter accidentally catches a bird with a fishing hook

When reporting on sightings of a shark in a lake in Australia, a reporter decided to close his piece by throwing a fishing line into the lake. He obviously wasn’t expecting to catch the shark, and the act was intended as a bit of closing humor.

He actually ended up catching more than he bargained for. A bird had attached itself to the bait, forcing the presenters to cut the segment off early.

Weatherman shows presenter his middle finger

BBC News weather reporter Tomasz Schafernaker is no stranger to an on-air mishap, with his finest moment coming after a little bit of teasing from the show’s main anchor Simon McCoy.

The camera cut to Schafernaker as he was making a rather rude gesture in McCoy’s direction, leading to horror as he realised the act had been broadcast live.

Bee Gees walk out of an interview

The Bee Gees were experiencing one of their many resurgences in the mid-1990s, which resulted in a live interview slot with TV presenter Clive Anderson. Anderson made repeated jibes towards frontman Barry Gibb, which ultimately led to him walking off the show.

The other two quickly followed, leaving Anderson looking rather uncomfortable and lonely. You know what they say - never work with children, animals or pop stars.

Gymnast belly flops during a live report

In 1984, a news team were sent to a gym where an up-and-coming gymnast was preparing for the Los Angeles Olympics later in the year.

During the report, the gymnast attempted to land a routine off the horizontal bars, but it all went wrong, as he landed belly first on the crash mat.

Former British Prime Minister talks to a tree

Former Prime Minister, David Cameron, was doorstepped by a journalist in the aftermath of a general election. However, the placement of the interviewer didn’t help Cameron, as it seemed as though he was standing talking to a tree.

This was picked up on by the news presenter, and the clip still circulates around the internet to this day.

Steve Harvey announces the wrong Miss Universe

The campaign for Miss Universe 2015 was a long one for all involved, and what should have been a moment of relief and jubilation for the announced winner Miss Colombia, quickly became a nightmare.

Why? Because presenter Steve Harvey had to backtrack and announce the real winner was actually Miss Philippines. Yikes. The moment went on to become meme'd to immortality. Poor Miss Colombia.

Ashlee Simpson’s lip-sync fail on SNL

Ashlee Simpson was booked to perform two songs on Saturday Night Live in 2004. The first song appeared to go well, but the second unravelled spectacularly, as the person in charge of pushing the backing track button made a calamitous error.

The vocals for the first song began playing, proving that Simpson had been lip-syncing instead of actually singing the song. Embarrassed, Simpson cut her losses and walked off stage.

Jennifer Lawrence falls up the stairs at the Oscars

Jennifer Lawrence will always remember her Oscars win in 2013 for one thing, falling up the stairs when collecting her award for Best Actress. What should have been a career-defining moment ended in embarrassment, but at least she had the self-awareness to laugh about it.

Her clumsy demeanour is actually part of why Lawrence is so beloved as an actress, as many saw her tumble as a refreshing, down-to-earth change up from the usually pitch perfect and heavily edited world of Hollywood.

Warren Beatty’s Oscars blunder

Warren Beatty seemingly took a leaf out of Steve Harvey’s book when announcing the winner of Best Picture at the Oscars in 2017. He gave the victory to La La Land, and it wasn’t until the cast and crew had got up to the stage to collect their award that the error was noticed.

La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz famously held up the card which clearly stated Moonlight were taking home the biggest prize of the night. The cast and crew of La La Land handled the mistake with grace and dignity, and Moonlight was declared a justified winner.

News reporter gets attacked by snowballs

A news reporter in the Middle East was doing a piece on the cold weather that his region wasn’t accustomed to when all of a sudden somebody started throwing snowballs at him.

One person turned into two, and before he could do anything about it, there was a whole group of people throwing snowballs at the poor guy.

Fergie’s national anthem

Singing the National Anthem is a great privilege and honor for any musician - but not all of them do it justice. At the NBA All-Star game in 2018, the Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie decided to add a sultry twist to her performance, which left many of the players and fans struggling to contain their laughter.

Even more infamous than the performance itself are the reaction videos from players on the court desperately trying not to burst out laughing. Some of them were more successful at this than others (looking at you, Steph Curry!)

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl performance

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s 2004 Super Bowl halftime show lingers in the collective memory as one of the most controversial moments in modern pop culture. Timberlake ripped off a bit of Jackson’s costume, leaving her exposed to shocked onlookers, in a moment that tainted Jackson's career indefinitely.

Jackson went on to express her disappointment that she was the one who took all the flack for the performance while Timberlake failed to stand up for her. Years later, he did apologize, but for many Janet fans, the damage had already been done.

Kanye West’s speech hijack

Kanye West shocked the world when he interrupted a young Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs. West used his moment in the limelight to express his opinion that Beyoncé should have won the award for Best Music Video instead, with Swift looking on in shock and horror just behind him.

However, karma prevailed, and Swift used this moment to propel her to stardom, while West went on to lose his reputation and billionaire status due to a series of bigoted and hateful statements that alienated many of his former fans. Who's laughing now?

Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve performance

Mariah Carey is often wheeled out for performances in December, thanks to the success of her song, All I Want For Christmas Is You. However, at Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve party, she put in a very uncomfortable performance, unable to hit her desired notes and cussing out her backing singers.

She cited technical difficulties as the reason the performance went downhill, and die-hard Mariah fans have never let the performance sway their love for her. For some, it only serves as another iconic moment in her history of many.

Sam Rubin’s identity mishap

During a live interview, TV personality Sam Rubin experienced a truly agonising moment, mistaking Samuel L. Jackson for Laurence Fishburne.

The clip spread like wildfire around the internet, and proved a tough moment for Rubin to live down, understandably so.

Susanna Reid’s inappropriate question

When interviewing British actor Dan Stevens about his new role in an American drama, presenter Susanna Reid had viewers spitting out their morning coffee when she asked him whether he had to “beat off” a lot of American men to get the role.

A slightly embarrassed Stevens smoothly brushed off the question while Reid struggled to work out why everyone in the studio was laughing at her.

Harry Belafonte’s snooze

While the legendary singer Harry Belafonte was waiting to be interviewed about his new autobiography, he was caught on camera taking a little pre-show nap.

He was eventually woken up and, although understandably somewhat startled, managed to give a fully coherent interview. Give him a break, we all need a cat nap now and then.

New iPhone drop

The arrival of a new iPhone always draws people to Apple stores in droves before opening time. When one lucky shopper came out of a store with their new piece of tech, the local TV news crew outside wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

In a moment straight from a sitcom, after opening the box, the phone flew out, landing on the hard pavement below and smashing, all witnessed on live television.

The blind high-five

Ryan Seacrest had a moment he desperately wished to forget while hosting American Idol, as he tried to high-five a blind person who understandably, didn’t have a clue what was happening.

In a fit of embarrassment, Seacrest tried to play it off by pretending that he always intended to try and shake the contestant’s hand. It was an thoughtless if well-meaning mistake, but one that has gone down as legendary in the cringe hall of fame.

Weather presenter gets dragged over by a dog

BBC News weather presenter Carol Kirkwood was reporting live from the 2023 Chelsea Flower Show, delivering her monologue in the company of a guide dog.

However, the labrador seemed to spot something in the distance and ran off to investigate. Kirkwood, with lead in hand, ended up going with the dog, making for an amusing piece of live TV.

We're just normal men

Presenter Lauren Layfield was presenting her usual slot on British children’s TV channel CBBC, when she lost it at an inside joke delivered by her puppet dog companion, Hacker T Dog. Quoting a private conversation the pair had had off air, Hacker came out with the bizarre statement "We're just normal men. We're just innocent men!", leaving audiences baffled by Layfield's hysteric laughter.

The clip has been memed to within an inch of its life, shared around the internet for millions to see, and it gets funnier every single time. Even without knowing the context of the story, We're Just Normal Men remains a hilarious moment that will live on in meme infamy.

John Barrowman falls off his chair

Actor John Barrowman was doing the media rounds, promoting a new theatre show in which he was starring. As part of his act, he was wearing high heels, which he attempted to show the panel on UK chat show, Loose Women.

He then lost his balance, falling off of his high stool. Thankfully, he and his heels were both unharmed.

Madonna goes flying at the Brit Awards

Madonna was delivering one of her trademark theatrical performances at the 2015 Brit Awards ceremony. As she was attempting to walk up a small flight of stairs onto the stage, a backup dancer stepped on her ultra-long cape, sending her flying backwards.

She survived the ordeal, finishing off the song as best as she could, but according to legend the dancer never worked again.

Kendall Jenner struggles to read

It was professional celebrity Kendall Jenner’s job to announce the winner of an award at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards. Instead of saying that the winner was rough and tumble boy band 5 Seconds of Summer, she started to say One Direction.

Thankfully she caught it after saying One, sparing her blushes slightly. Probably wise not to incur the wrath of the Directioners back then, anyway.

Wrongful elimination

Olly Murs was presenting British talent show The X-Factor when he almost booted off a contestant that the public had voted to stay in.

Murs was taking over the role that was held for many years by presenter Dermot O’Leary, which let him off in the eyes of many.

John Travolta’s made up name

When presenting an award at the 2014 Oscars ceremony, John Travolta was tasked with reading out Idina Menzel’s name correctly.

He failed drastically, pronouncing it as Adele Dazeem. Thankfully, Menzel took it well, although Travolta did issue a public apology. Who the mysterious Adele Dazeem is was never revealed.