It is difficult to believe any genuine outrage was provoked by the BBC's decision to name Tian Tian, a panda from Edinburgh (via China), in its list of female "Faces of the Year". Yet the alleged controversy touches on two particularly sensitive subject areas: the BBC, and meaningless end-of-year lists, both of which inspire irrational anger in certain sorts of people.
If the BBC should see fit to apologise, as it normally does, then I'd like to propose an excuse: Tian Tian was not, in fact, intended for the "Faces of the Year" list, but for a separate list of "Bears of the Year". The error was a technical one, caused by a short-sighted BBC website employee who mistakenly added Angela Merkel to the "Bears of the Year" list in Tian Tian's place.
As a seasoned compiler of meaningless end-of-year lists, let me contribute some other bears to this one. For instance, the polar bear who, in January, was found by scientists to have swum for nine continuous days in search of sea ice; I call her "Walliams". And Knut, the world's most celebrated polar bear, tragically found drowned in his enclosure at Berlin Zoo in April.
Then there were the bears born at a wildlife centre in the Netherlands, and outrage-inducingly passed off as wild by the BBC's Frozen Planet in December. Finally, to avoid it being a polar bear-only affair (like that infamous Sports Personality shortlist) I must also add the "Sneezing Baby Panda".
The famous viral YouTube clip of said panda is some years old, but in June it was announced as the subject of a $1.3m feature-length mockumentary – thus qualifying it, controversially, for the BBC's 2011 "Bears of the Year".
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