Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Channel 4 News presenter and journalist

'I used to hug and kiss my teacher'
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The Independent Online

Krishnan Guru-Murthy, 39 on 5 April presents Channel 4 News. He chairs the current Teachers TV debate on parents' involvement in their children's education (

My main memory of my playgroup in Liverpool was that they used to call me "Lover Boy" because I was so affectionate. I used to hug and kiss the teacher and, if I forgot, I made my mother drive me back. I had an unhappy period straight afterwards when I went to a private primary school in Clitheroe, the kind you went to if you couldn't get in anywhere else.

I hated it. I was particularly terrified of an older teacher whom I saw slapping a child across the legs. I would scream and my parents wouldn't be able to get me out of the car.

After an unhappy term there, I went to the Waddington and West Bradford Primary School and had a very happy time.

At six, I went to Westholme School in Blackburn, basically a girls private school which took boys up to the age of eight. Then I started at Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, an independent school in Blackburn, and was there from eight to 18.

I pretty much started performing – drama, debating competitions, public speaking – from the age of 11. The big dilemma was whether I was going to pursue my interests in showing off and talking, or to follow in my father's footsteps and become a doctor. One lot of teachers would encourage me to become a barrister or actor and another lot pushed me towards medical school. The head boy and girl used to be selected by the staff, who would write a tick or a cross against the names on the short-list. I wasn't even made one of the 15 prefects. The deputy head said that I had the most ticks – and the most crosses.

It was a very good school, an exam factory with very rounded kids. I got 12 O-levels, with 10 As and two Bs. At A-level I took maths, chemistry, biology and general studies.

I failed every maths mock and two months before the actual exam the teacher said I was in danger of screwing up. I crammed for eight weeks.

On the day of the results, when he knew I had an A but before I did, he said: "You're like a cat: you've got nine lives and you always land on your feet."

My head teacher got me an offer from Oxford to do medicine pretty much on that day but I changed my mind and reapplied to do philosophy, politics and economics instead. In my gap year I got a job presenting on BBC2 and worked for the BBC through my first two years at Hertford College, Oxford. I would drive to Birmingham on Wednesday morning, record the show and come back on Thursday night.

At the end of my second year, my tutor said: "You've got to stop" but the editor of Newsround said, "You can work for us during the vacations," which I stuck to, except that just before my finals they asked me to go to Croatia and Bosnia.

My politics teacher was supportive. I was studying South Asian politics, having interviewed Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. My Oxford experience, when I look back, was unsatisfactory. I missed out on so much. Between having a social life, scraping a 2.2 and holding down a job, I didn't have much time for anything else.

When my little brother came up to Oxford later, I banged on about him not making the same mistake.