‘My Blue Peter male co-hosts earned more than me so I kicked up a fuss’

Konnie Huq, 45, is a television presenter and author. She became a household name when she hosted Blue Peter from 1997 to 2008, becoming the show’s longest-serving female presenter.

She lives in west London with husband Charlie Brooker, the satirist and producer, and their two sons.

How did your childhood shape your attitude to money?

My parents brought me up to respect it and not be frivolous with it. They came from Bangladesh in the 1960s to give us opportunities here that we would not have had there.

My dad was an actuary with the Prudential, then opened a restaurant in Soho. There was always enough but we didn’t go on lavish family holidays. They prioritised our education. I do remember going back to Bangladesh at 14 years old and seeing that abject poverty, so I have always felt lucky to have any money.

What was your first job in television?

It was actually while I was still at school. There was an open audition for a presenter on TVFM, a pop music, film and entertainment programme on a cable channel. It was advertised in Time Out. I was 16 and had just started my A-levels, but I pretended I had left school. I never thought I would get it.

I did interviews with pop bands and every Thursday after school I would do my video links. I think I earned a few thousand for the whole series. My school was supportive because they realised it would look good on my university application form.

How did you decide to work in showbusiness?

I really loved acting and was performing in the National Youth Theatre, but my parents wanted me to do something more vocational. I was doing physics, chemistry and maths A-levels, so I was always torn between arts and science. But then I did telly and loved it. I continued working in television while studying economics at Cambridge.

What impact did hosting Blue Peter have on your life?

It was brilliant. I was 22, fresh out of college and earning in the high £20,000s in 1997. Then I learnt that my co-presenters Matt Baker and Simon Thomas were being paid more than me. So I kicked off, fought for my rights and upped my salary. Because I’d done maths as part of my degree, I made sure I got all the back payments with compound interest.

I was at Blue Peter for more than 10 years in a stable, steady job. It enabled me to get on to the property ladder and build up some really solid savings. TV presenting is often freelance, so it can be really tricky financially.

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