Karthi Gnanasegaram has become a well known face on our TV screens in various roles in sporting media, particularly reading the weekend sport on the BBC news. Well Karthi hails from Wolverhampton and is a dedicated Wolves fan who is one day hoping to include the club again in the Premier League results! Here is a Q& A with Karthi which was first printed in the matchday programme for Friday’s game with Crawley Town.
*Hi Karthi - you were born and brought up in Wolverhampton! What was that like and what schools did you go to?
I loved my childhood in Wolverhampton and particularly my school, Warstones Junior School. I drove past my old school a couple of years ago and had a real urge to go inside and see if any of the same teachers were still there. Last summer I was watching a play in London's West End when the man sitting next to me asked, in a very broad Wolverhampton accent, if I could recommend somewhere nearby for him to eat. I asked whereabouts in Wolverhampton he was from and after chatting for a bit we discovered he went to Warstones too - only he was there 50 years before me! Obviously he was a Wolves fan too. I went to King Edward VI High School for GIrls in Edgbaston after that so most of my time was spent in Birmingham but when I was at home I practically lived at the Linden Lea Tennis Club. I loved it there.
*Wolves! When did Wolves come into your life – did you get to many matches?
I was a bit late to football as it was tennis, golf, cricket and snooker always on TV in our house. It wasn't a particularly football house but I remember first becoming properly aware of football when the Mexico World Cup was on television. The knock-on effect of that was getting interested in Wolves when Steve Bull arrived! It was probably quite a good time to become a Wolves fan as we won the Fourth and Third Divisions plus the League Cup and I'd missed the turmoil of the previous years. I also started doing school projects on football related subjects like the Taylor Report and the percentage of female fans at football games.
*Any particularly good memories?
My favourite memory has to be the 2003 play-off final at the Millennium Stadium. I was so nervous but when we were 3-0 up by half time I calmed down and to make it even more special I was there with a Sheffield United friend! I'd never seen Wolves play in the top flight and finally it was going to happen.
*Studying at Cambridge University – did you manage to spread the word about Wolves?
Hmmm...I didn't do too well with that but I did manage to go to a few Wolves games nearby with friends who supported the opposition.
*How proud do you feel about working for an organisation such as the BBC?
Well I've worked at Sky News, ITN, Al Jazeera's International News Channel in Doha as well as various television and radio departments at the BBC. It's been fascinating presenting and reporting for such a variety of television companies but I wanted to make sure I was back at the BBC for the Olympics. It's a great place to work because the people there are so passionate about our programmes and output.
*What is it like to cover a major event as you have done recently such as Wimbledon, the British Open and going back further, the Olympics?
I've been incredibly luckily to be at some of the most amazing sports events over the last few years. I'm a huge tennis nut and have reported on the ATP tour for several years so I'm not sure anything is going to top being on Centre Court at Wimbledon watching Andy Murray become Wimbledon champion. An England World Cup win would do it but I'm not too optimistic about seeing that for a while.
*Working in sport, do you find yourself chatting about Wolves a lot with colleagues? Much banter?
You might not be too surprised to hear that the number of people at work interested in talking about Wolves has waned over the last couple of seasons. There are quite a few Wolves fans at the BBC but due to their job some of them need to be neutral in public so I won't mention any names. Fans of every club complain to the BBC that Match of the Day always show their game last. Wolves fans are no exception but someone who was involved with MOTD for many years was actually a big Wolves fan!
*It’s been a disappointing two years for Wolves – how difficult has that been for a fan? Are you still able to get to many matches and get back to Wolverhampton when work allows?
It's been a really poor couple of seasons and so frustrating to watch them drop down the leagues. I try and watch Wolves when they're in London but I tend to be working on Saturday/Sunday either reporting from a Premier League game, which unfortunately doesn't involve Wolves at the moment, or I'm presenting in the studio, so I don't get to see them as much now. When we were in the Premier League I would report from their matches or if I wasn't working at their game then I'd go to all of their London fixtures. But luckily now if I'm at work we get live TV feeds of matches so I can sometimes keep an eye on them on a Saturday/Sunday afternoon - another perk of the job! I've also reported on Wolves' community projects for MOTD which included getting Marcus Hahnemann, Jamie O'Hara and Adam Hammill to Zumba dance at Molineux. They had no idea what Zumba was!
*How optimistic are you about the new season?
You have to be optimistic at the start of a new season! But I genuinely think Kenny Jackett is the right man for the challenge. Wolves is such a great club. We've got a fantastic stadium, brilliant fanbase and I know lots of clubs say it but I believe we belong in the Premier League, I just hope we can get back there quickly.
*Finally...how much do you long for the moment when you might be presenting the Sport on the Saturday night news and once again read out Wolves’ results in the Premier League?!
Haha! Well I present the sports bulletin on the BBC1 Ten o'clock News on Saturdays and Sundays so have to say the "Please leave the room now if you don't want to know the results" line because Match of the Day is straight after us. I haven't been able to mention Wolves for a while but I can't wait for the moment they return to the Premier League and I can include their results again. Wolves fans might notice an extra big grin that day!