Daniel Johnson talks to KRISHNAN GURU-MURTHY, about life as a TV news anchor
AS HE admits, with our London-centric media as well as his rather neutral accent, you would not have Krishnan Guru-Murthy down as a man from Liverpool.
But that’s exactly what the Channel 4 News presenter of 15 years is, with his roots firmly laid in the North West.
Born in Childwall where he lived until he was four, the anchor and now seemingly veteran journalist – despite being only 42 – then spent his childhood in Lancashire, in a small village just outside Clitheroe.
Guru-Murthy says he fondly remembers “riding bikes, going exploring, fishing, generally doing all the things I wouldn’t dream of letting my kids do in London.”
Always “charmed” by Liverpool, where his father moved in the 1960s to work as a doctor, he describes himself as having “a residual loyalty to the city”, particularly after visiting his sister when she was a student in his teenage years.
“I remember The Everyman being the cool place to go, and hanging out with my sister in dodgy student bars and houses. The last time I came back was for a conference at the ECHO arena, and the transformation of the place was astonishing. Sadly my visits are fewer and farther between than in my teenage years.”
He adds that while his brother is a “massive Liverpool fan”, he supports the Anfield club not through an avid following of football but out of loyalty to the city.
As he puts it himself, in nearly 25 years on our screens “a generation have grown up with me”, watching him host the BBC’s ‘Open to Question’ when he was just 18, through to Newsround, BBC News 24, and to Channel 4 News. The widely-acclaimed and EMMA award-winning anchor has already done more than most journalists could hope to do in a career.
He has reported from warzones – including the Bosnian War when he was just 21 – interviewed the last four Prime Ministers, covered five general elections, chaired a special ‘Ask the Chancellors’ debate in the 2010 campaign, as well as hosting controversial one-offs like ‘The Autopsy’; the first post-mortem to be broadcast live.
It is hardly surprising then that the Childwall-born anchor’s foray in television started young, presenting ‘Open to Question’ on his gap year.
“When I first started doing it I was still planning to go off and be a doctor – I was only really playing at it. It was only after a few months I thought I want to do this rather than medicine.
“I was aware that I was the youngest person to have a programme on the BBC, and that who I was interviewing made it a big deal. But I think I just had that sense of, ‘I’m 18, I can do whatever I want’.
“I was argumentative, political, a bit of a debater, and a bit of a performer (he was in the National Youth Theatre at the time). I enjoyed showing off and that is the combination of exactly what you need to be a television presenter.”
Was it not a daunting prospect, bordering on the terrifying, I ask him?
“No it wasn’t terrifying, just incredibly exciting. I had that confidence of being an 18-year-old and thinking ‘this is tremendous fun’, and not imagining that this was going to be my professional future.
“If anything the fear comes afterwards – in your professional life you probably get more insecure as you get older.”