Duncan Wood: I was always rubbish at exams

Duncan Wood.
Duncan Wood.
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Duncan Wood went from exam failure to national television broadcaster. He is now a presenter on Calendar. Jayne Dawson reports.

Duncan Wood, 51, lives near Wetherby, Leeds, with his wife Shirley. The couple have a daughter, Emily, 20. His career began in newspapers and he worked on breakfast television before joining Calendar.

My first job was as an assistant golf professional when I was about 15. It was a glorified name for a shop assistant selling the chocolate bars and golf balls really but I loved golf and still do. In my early twenties I was county champion in Durham, and I did think about turning professional. My best handicap was one.

The best piece of advice I have ever been given was to count to ten, meaning think before you dive in. I can be a perfectionist. Basically, I am a plodder but I work hard and get there in the end, and so I want other people to work hard too.

My guilty pleasure? I would eat Bettys Fondant Fancies every day of my life if I could. I have a very sweet tooth but sadly I have to be careful with my diet. About four years ago I was diagnosed with diverticulitis, which is inflammation of the bowel. I collapsed in such pain I ended up in hospital. I had had problems for a long time and it was a big wake up call.

This will probably get me into trouble but my pet hate is motorbikes and bikers. I am sure there are a lot of law-abiding bikers out there, but there are also a lot who flout the rules of the road.

The person I would most like to have met is Seve Ballesteros. I wept buckets when he died. I actually did see him play, in Whitley Bay of all places, but I never got to meet him.

My ideal weekend would be spent on the Augusta golf course in California, then the next day would be in Robin Hood’s Bay, since this is a fantasy weekend.

My advice to my teenage self would be don’t panic. I failed all my 0-levels, every single one of them. Nobody knew why including me, I had been expected to go on to the sixth form with no problems. I retook them and passed seven, but then I went and failed my A-levels. I was just rubbish at exams, I became full of panic and anxiety.

My dad got me my first job in journalism because he was the boss, the managing director at The Sunderland Echo. I arrived in the newsroom as the boss’s son who had just failed all his exams and they sat me next to the lad from the council estate who was there on his own merits. It was a time of unrest in the industry and for the next two years they put me at the front of every picket line. It’s fair to say I got a lot of grief from my colleagues. I did pass all my journalism exams first time and six months early though, so that helped, but I left the paper as soon as I could.

I don’t do Facebook. I have a bit of an addictive personality and I don’t want to get sucked in. I do Twitter, it’s the first thing I look at every morning, I get a lot of my news from there.

My philosophy of life is to live every day as it comes, I’ve never had a masterplan. I like to see the good in people, and I’m definitely an optimist.

I couldn’t live without my phone. Sadly, I panic if I don’t have it. It’s at the side of the bed at night, ready for the next morning.

My most embarrassing moment was probably when I caught a plane to Gatwick and then tried to get on another to Paris for an interview with footballer David Ginola. it was all last minute and I didn’t just forget my passport, I actually forgot that people need passports to get out of the country. We never got the interview.

The last time I cried was watching DIY SOS. I like a big sob. And I do literally sob.

Here’s my joke: What do you call an alligator in a vest? An investigator. I had to look that up, I’m really bad at telling jokes.

It will probably surprise people to know that I can’t swim. We had a swimming pool at school, but I could just never manage it, I couldn’t put my face in the water. I’ve never tried adult lessons.

I was an only child and probably a spoilt brat. We lived in Roker, next to a house owned by Sunderland Football Club, so lots of their footballers stayed there, so that was great.

My first kiss was with Cherine, we lived two doors away from each other. I met her again recently in sad circumstances. Her mum and my dad both have dementia and were staying in the same care home.

The first record I ever bought was Long Haired Lover From Liverpool by Jimmy Osmond. I have interviewed the Osmonds several times since, but never Jimmy.

I like Leeds because it is a vibrant, energetic city with lots of small interesting venues, like Arts Cafe.

Imran Khan who designs and sells fabulous Asian style and inspired jackets and suits worn by celebs including Amir Khan and David Dickinson. His day job is at sports car dealershipe GC Motors in Harrogate. Picture Tony Johnson.

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