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Konnie Huq

Kanak Asha "Konnie" Huq (/ˈhʌk/; Bengali: কনক হক; born 17 July 1975) is a British television presenter and writer. She is the longest-serving female presenter of Blue Peter, having presented it from 1 December 1997 until 23 January 2008. She presented the 2010 series of The Xtra Factor on ITV2.

Early Life and EducationEdit

Huq was born in Hammersmith, west London to Sunni Muslim[2] Bangladeshi parents who had emigrated to England in the 1960s.[3][4] She grew up in Ealing, west London, with her two elder sisters, Rupa and Nutun. She was educated at Notting Hill & Ealing High School in London and left school with nine GCSEs and A-levels in physics, mathematics and chemistry.[5] Despite having studied the sciences for her A-Levels, she chose to read economics and graduated with a 2:1 from Robinson College, Cambridge.

Early CareerEdit

In 1989, at the age of 14, Huq was a guest on Blue Peter with the National Youth Music Theatre, where she sang a solo.[6] In 1992, ahead of the forthcoming general election, Huq interviewed then Labour leader Neil Kinnock for the children's programme Newsround. She appeared as a contestant on Blockbusters in the same year.[7] She also appeared as an uncredited extra playing a schoolgirl in the BBC One sitcom 2point4 Children in the Series 2 episode "I'm Going Slightly Mad".[8]

Huq's presenting debut was in a GMTV Saturday morning children's quiz show entitled "Eat Your Words"[9] between 1994 and 1996. She was assisted by Mark Speight before Simon Parkin took over presenting duties. In 1997, several months before joining Blue Peter, Huq presented Channel Five's early morning children's programme Milkshake!,[10] while also working as an editorial assistant for the now defunct[11] Total Sport magazine.

Blue PeterEdit

Huq is best known for presenting the BBC children's television programme Blue Peter, which she joined on 1 December 1997.[12][13] One of her most memorable early moments on Blue Peter was visiting Bangladesh, and speaking to members of her extended family whom she had not seen for many years.[12] In the programme's 2004 "Summer Expedition" to India, Huq became an extra in the Bollywood film Musafir (2004), and practised dancing alongside its stars.[14][15] For the programme's 2004 "Welcome Home" appeal, she made an emotional visit to Angola in the hope of reuniting children with the families they had been separated from due to war.[16] In 2008, during her last programme, she broke a Guinness World Record by managing to pin 17 Blue Peter Badges onto fellow presenter Andy Akinwolere's shirt in a minute.[17]

During her time on Blue Peter her colleagues were Stuart Miles, Katy Hill, Romana D'Annunzio, Richard Bacon, Simon Thomas, Matt Baker, Liz Barker, Zöe Salmon, Gethin Jones and Andy Akinwolere.[citation needed]

In March 2007 she apologised to viewers after a competition on the programme was faked, saying, "We'd like to say sorry to you because when this mistake happened, we let you down."[18] She was later reported as saying that this event contributed to her decision to leave the programme.[citation needed]

On 31 May 2007, Huq announced that she would be leaving Blue Peter. On 22 January 2008, Huq hosted her final Blue Peter, with a clip show of her highlights through the ten years she had been on the programme.[19] She is the third longest-serving Blue Peter presenter and its longest-serving female host, having passed Valerie Singleton's record on 1 October 2007.

The Xtra FactorEdit

Huq presented the seventh series of The Xtra Factor on ITV2, replacing Holly Willoughby who was unable to fulfil the role due to her ongoing commitments at This Morning.[21] It was reported that Huq departed from The Xtra Factor after the 2010 series due to other commitments though rumours circulated that she was sacked by Simon Cowell after he was reported to be unimpressed with her performance and presenting style.

Other WorkEdit

Between 2002 and 2004, Huq co-presented the CBBC Channel's UK Top 40.[24]

In early 2003 Huq was briefly a presenter for Top of the Pops.[25][26] She presented GMTV's LK today coverage on New York Fashion Week on the week of 10 September 2007.[26] She has also been a guest panelist on the comedy gameshow 8 out of 10 Cats.[27]

In December 2007 Huq appeared on a celebrity version of Ready Steady Cook with Blue Peter co-presenter Andy Akinwolere,[28] and playing a servant (called Konnie) on the last episode of the second series of Robin Hood.[29] Also in 2007, Konnie began presenting the ITV1 London show London Talking, a political debate show, alongside Vanessa Feltz and Nick Ferrari.[26]

She has also co-presented some of the weekly Your News programme for BBC News in 2008.[30] On 14 April 2008 Konnie was seen filming at Colchester Zoo for the third series of Channel Five show Zoo Days which was broadcast from June 2008.[31] Also in 2008, Huq presented The Red Bull Air Race with Dougie Anderson for Channel 4.[32]

Huq appeared with her future husband Charlie Brooker in his satirical review programme Screenwipe in December 2008 on BBC Four. Here, she hosted a mock version of a "mission documentary" entitled Konnie's Great British Wee, in which she claimed to be on a mission to combat paruresis in males.[33] Huq appeared alongside Charles Kennedy on This Week on 18 December 2008.[34] She appeared on the CBBC series M.I.High as herself in the episode "The Big Freeze" broadcast on 22 January 2007[35][36]

She also played herself in the episode "Golden Lady" of the TV series FM in March 2009.[37]

In 2009 Huq won the Best Rising Star Screenplay Angel award at the Monaco International Film Festival for the short film Ahmed and Mildred. [38][39] In March 2014 Ahmed and Mildred was selected to receive funding from Film London. [40]

She presented Guinness World Records Smashed with Steve Jones on Sundays 6pm on Sky1,[41] she has attempted some records herself including moonwalking and trampolining. On 15 May 2009, Huq began to present entertainment show Hannah-Oke on The Disney Channel with Duncan James.[42]

In February 2011 she appeared in an episode of ITV2 documentary programme Under Pressure, where she attempted to learn how to be a rapper. Trailers for the show asked "Will Konnie Huq it up?"[43]

She co-wrote, with husband Charlie Brooker, the second episode of the Channel 4 anthology series Black Mirror, entitled Fifteen Million Merits. The episode received positive critical reception.[44]

For two years running Huq has presented the Royal Shakespeare Company's Live from Stratford-upon-Avon - a web project aimed at showing theatre productions in schools. In July 2012 the project web-streamed a performance of I Cinna (The Poet). In November 2013 a recording of the globe theatre production of Richard II was shown in 3,000 schools. In both cases the performance was followed by a question-and-answer session hosted by Huq.

RadioEdit

On 15 September 2006, Huq became one of the presenters of The Tube with Tony Wilson, Alex James and Emily Rose on Channel 4 Radio[45] working with production company UKoneFM. The first edition was broadcast on 3 November 2006.[46] Huq made her debut as a news presenter on the BBC Asian Network in September 2007,[47] in a series of documentaries on a radio current affairs programme called the Asian Network Report.[4] In 2013, she took part in Great Lives, nominating Ada Lovelace in series 31 episode 7.

Olympic Torch IncidentEdit

On 6 April 2008, Huq was one of 80 carriers of the Olympic torch relay through London when in Ladbroke Grove a protester tried to grab the torch from her whilst Huq was about to give the torch to the next runner. Huq was not hurt in the incident. Police wrestled the protester to the ground and arrested him.[49] She, however, voiced concern over the Chinese torch guards, saying "They were very robotic, very full on, and actually I noticed them having skirmishes with our own police and the Olympic authorities before our leg of the relay".[50] On BBC News later that day she defended carrying the torch, saying she "did the procession because I believe in the Olympic values, the ideals, I think sport on a global scale is a brilliant thing, it transcends culture, race, money," despite what she calls China's "terrible track record when it comes to human rights."

Charity WorkEdit

Huq is currently a celebrity ambassador for the British Red Cross,[52] for whom she recorded the video "If I had HIV, would you kiss me?" as part of a campaign against stigmatisation of people living with HIV.[53]

In 2005, Huq took part in BBC One show Comic Relief Does Fame Academy. She was the third contestant to be voted off, after her rendition of Kim Wilde's Kids in America.[54][55] She also travelled to Uganda and met orphan children, on behalf of Comic Relief.

In 2008 Huq travelled to Afghanistan with the charity Afghanaid to film a BBC Lifelines appeal, which was aired on 21 September.[56] Huq was an ambassador for Gold Challenge, part of the official mass participation legacy programme for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Personal LifeEdit

Huq supported the Labour Party at the 2010 General Election.

On 26 July 2010, Huq married Charlie Brooker at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas after a nine-month relationship. They have two children born 23 March 2012 and 28 Feb 2014.