Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Konnie Huq, former Blue Peter presenter

'I bluffed the economics question'


Konnie Huq, 32, left Blue Peter in January after appearing on the BBC children's programme for 10 years, longer than any previous female presenter. After a protester snatched the torch she was carrying in the London leg of the Olympic relay, she spoke out against China's "terrible track record" on human rights.

I think I had a happy childhood at my playgroup and schools. I was good at Montpelier Primary School in Ealing, west London, but I do remember being scared I would be told off when I rubbed out a bit that wasn't right on a picture of an apple I'd drawn and ripped the page. No, I wasn't told off. I can remember an absolutely massive silver climbing frame, like a spaceship, scary; going back later, it was tiny. I also remember a boy saying, "You're from India," and I said, "No, I'm not, I'm from Bangladesh." And I remember that when Charles and Diana got married, we had a re-enactment of the royal wedding.

At eight or nine I passed the exam for Notting Hill and Ealing High, a private school. I had an assisted place; I was always the one who, for financial reasons, didn't go on the skiing trip or whatever.

We had a "wormery" and my friend and I were in charge of the "snailery" with about five snails. I loved drama and was in The Crucible. I was on Blue Peter at 14 with the National Youth Music Theatre – I sang a solo. When I was in the sixth form I presented a cable and satellite programme about music, television and video. I used to do public speaking competitions. There were teams of three. It sounds so middle-class!

In sport, you had to do an option, such as golf or horse-riding; I got grades 1 and 2 in fencing, which was very easy. No, I didn't do any running. With the Olympic torch, you don't really run that far, as your torch is soon switched to the next person.

I did well at GCSEs and got nine. My A-levels were physics, chemistry and maths. Science is fascinating but I wouldn't say I have used it since then. I decided to do economics. "Don't ask me anything about economics – haven't done any!" I remember thinking this when I was interviewed for an economics degree at Robinson College, Cambridge. They did ask me one economics question and I bluffed it.

Economics is a good degree to have but the subject is very theoretical at Cambridge and I found it frustrating that you can't apply a lot of the models to particular circumstances. I enjoyed being at Robinson, which is not so steeped in tradition as some colleges where formal halls can feel like an event at a strange Freemason-type society.

Robinson is built in tiers and you have French windows with balconies, so that you can walk along someone's balcony and bang on the windows. The college had a very good lay-out for "Assassin", a game played during Rag Week. You were all given the name of someone in the college, who you would spy on and shoot with a water pistol.

I was the Rag Week co-ordinator, and also on the committee for the May Ball, when we hired the Abba tribute band, Bjorn Again. During the vacations of my first year I presented on GMTV a quiz slot called Eat Your Words.

I got a 2:1. Our tutors had to recommend high-flying students to the Bank of England; our director of studies recommended me. The two people I met at the Bank were both wearing suits: brown, not grey or black. It turned out to be dress-down day. I remember thinking, "If this is dress-down day, what are the ordinary days like?" There was an aptitude test; I did it really badly.

For years after that they used to write to me at Robinson College, addressing me as "Dr Huq" and asking me to recommend students for interview. The paperwork had obviously got mixed up.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London