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My best teacher

My two favourite teachers were my English teacher, Tim Heavisides, and my chemistry teacher, Ellis Metcalfe, at Queen Elizabeth's grammar school in Blackburn. Tim Heavisides was incredibly sarcastic, very funny, but quietly passionate. He was my house master for a while and taught me O-level English and drama. He was an indeterminate age - probably mid- 30s - but he had slightly greying hair and dressed very distinctively. We used to take the piss out of him for his carpet ties - thick, woolly, square-ended knitted ones - and he'd wear brown corduroy and eccentric check suits. He was a mix of individual, distinctive and square.

He had this mock disdainful style with us - he thought we were a bunch of layabouts - but he had a secret yearning for acceptance. So he was into The Smiths because we were into The Smiths. He'd hand out photocopies at the start of a lesson and they'd be lyrics from a Smiths song, and he'd get us to discuss them. We'd tease him for trying so hard to be cool.

He was into film, music and popular culture, but in an intellectual way, which we used to find amusing. But we secretly liked the fact that he knew all of these things. He was always willing to try new things with our class and he liked to go down silly cul-de-sacs of discussions. He was a fantastic teacher and particularly inspirational for me because I agonised all the way through secondary school about whether I should be a doctor or do something more artistic. The school was very academic and everybody was pushing me to be sensible and do sciences, except for Tim, who said: "You are good at expressing yourself, you're good at drama, do what you want to do." He was a lone voice.

There are two things about Tim Heavisides that particularly stick in my mind. The first is that in the sixth form I decided I wanted to direct the school play. But school plays were only ever directed by teachers, so it was rejected by the staff on the drama committee. We said, "Sod it, we're going to put on our own production," and he backed us and helped us organise it. We did three one-act plays. The second thing was when I did an assembly and stood up in front of the school and delivered an anti-religious rant, which was received by a stony silence. But at the end of it Tim came up to me and said, "If you become a doctor you are completely wasted." He was the one voice egging me on, which I appreciate now, probably more than I did at the time.

The other teacher was Ellis Metcalfe, my chemistry teacher. He was entertaining, inspirational and a fantastic teacher. Everyone in his class did well because he was such an engaging man. He would often waste 20 minutes telling gags and chatting to us, and then as soon as he said, "We're going to look at organic chemistry," we were switched on and would take in a lot.

He said he was a frustrated performer and I think he was. He was a small, bald, smiley man who was fun. But he wouldn't stand for nonsense, you couldn't muck around, and he would shout a lot when angry. He was a mix of stern and funny.

I was a bit of a controversial character with my teachers at school. A lot of them thought I was cocky and arrogant. Where more conventional teachers might say, "I've got to bash that out of you," these two saw past that and saw some ambition and a modicum of talent. On my final parents' evening, Ellis Metcalfe turned to my parents as we were leaving and said, "He's going to be famous." Quite an odd thing to hear when you're 18, and I didn't give it a second thought until I got a job on telly. I saw him recently when I went back to school to speak at the old boys' dinner. I hadn't seen him for 10 years, and the first thing he said to me was: "Told you!"

News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy was talking to Harvey McGavin

The story so far

1970 Born in Liverpool

1974 Moves to Clitheroe

1981 Attends Queen Elizabeth's grammar school, Blackburn

1988 Offered work experience and screen test after appearing on youth debating show Open To Question; works on BBC2's youth programme strand Def 2

1989 Reads politics, philosophy and economics at Hertford College, Oxford

1992 Presents BBC1's Newsround in holidays, going full-time after graduating

1994 Joins BBC2's Newsnight

1997 Launch presenter for BBCNews 24

1998 Channel 4 News presenter

2002 June 28 Guest of honour at TESNewspaper Day

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