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Anita Rani joins Woman’s Hour: Countryfile star will host Radio 4 show on Fridays and Saturdays

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Countryfile presenter and former Strictly Come Dancing star Anita Rani is to join Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, the BBC has announced. 

The 43-year-old, who grew up in Bradford, West Yorkshire, will present the Friday and Saturday editions of the programme, with her first broadcast being on January 15.

Ms Rani is joining Emma Barnett, who hosts the show from Monday to Thursday, in replacing previous presenters Dame Jenni Murray and Jane Garvey.

Garvey signed off from the programme on January 1 after 13 years, while Dame Jenni left the show last year following 23 years as its main presenter.

Announcing her new post on social media, Ms Rani, who has previously spoken about a devastating miscarriage she suffered in 2018, said she has ‘long been a fan’ of the programme. 

The presenter added she could not wait to work alongside the ‘brilliant’ Ms Barnett, who was forced to defend herself last week after a guest stormed off the show claiming she overheard her discussing if she had made anti-Semitic remarks.

Countryfile presenter and former Strictly Come Dancing star Anita Rani is to join Radio 4's Woman's Hour, the BBC has announced

Countryfile presenter and former Strictly Come Dancing star Anita Rani is to join Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, the BBC has announced

She added in a post on her Instagram account: 'Well this is my major news. What an honour to be joining @bbcwomanshour @bbcradio4'

She added in a post on her Instagram account: ‘Well this is my major news. What an honour to be joining @bbcwomanshour @bbcradio4’

Speaking of Women’s Hour, Ms Rani said: ‘I’ve long been a fan of Woman’s Hour and admired the presenters who have hosted the show previously, so I cannot wait to become part of it myself as second presenter, alongside the brilliant Emma Barnett.

‘I am really looking forward to getting to know the listeners and discussing issues that matter to them the most.

‘Woman’s Hour has always given a voice to people who may not be heard elsewhere and I want to continue that important tradition. 

‘What an honour and what a way to kick off the weekend.’

The presenter in 2015 made it to the semi-finals of Strictly with dance partner Gleb Savchenko

The presenter in 2015 made it to the semi-finals of Strictly with dance partner Gleb Savchenko

The presenter, who in 2015 made it to the semi-finals of Strictly with dance partner Gleb Savchenko, added in a post on her Instagram account: ‘Well this is my major news. What an honour to be joining @bbcwomanshour @bbcradio4’.

‘Cannot wait to get behind the mic to talk about everything you want me to. Join me on the mothership every Friday at 10am. I’M A WOMAN’S HOUR PRESENTER’.

Ms Rani, who is married to husband technology firm owner Bhupinder Rehal, started her career at the BBC on its Asian Network channel in 2005 and has also regularly presented on BBC Radio 2.

Former Women’s Hour presenter Jane Garvey says she left show because she was getting too ‘cosy’ 

Jane Garvey has revealed she left Woman’s Hour because she was getting too ‘cosy’ – adding that she has always found Radio 4 listeners a ‘puzzling breed.’

The broadcaster, 56, signed off her final show after 13 years on January 1 – declaring that it ‘needs to move on and now it can’ – and has now been replaced with Emma Barnett.

‘I only left because I could have stayed, cosy in my velvety rut,’ she said, speaking to Radio Times. ‘And I’m not sure that would have been a good thing for me or the programme, which is approaching its 75th birthday this autumn.’   

She went on to say that when she started presenting Woman’s Hour in 2007, she was made to feel ‘about as welcome as a woman who arrives in a remote village and immediately assumes control of the WI without so much as a by-your-leave.’ 

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She is also known for appearing on The One Show and Watchdog and has presented Countryfile since 2015.  

Ms Rani was born to a Hindu father and Sikh mother who moved to the UK 40 years ago. 

She previously presented a BBC programme about the 1947 partition of India in which she partly focused on the impact the partition had on her own family. 

In March, she spoke about how she suffered the ‘triple whammy’ in her TV career of being Asian, a woman and a northerner.   

‘I’m a woman but I’m also an Asian woman and I’m a northerner – that’s a triple whammy,’ she told The Sun’s Fabulous magazine.

‘I’ve got three things that are different from most people who work in TV. People make a judgment about you the minute they see you.’  

The presenter said she felt as though she had to justify why she should present shows which are not about Asians. 

She claimed that while she fronted a BBC series about Bollywood, executives were less keen on her presenting a follow-up on focusing on Hollywood. 

‘You feel you just have to suck it up and get on with it because you don’t want to rock the boat and women around the world will understand what I’m talking about,’ she added.

‘Racism p***** me off and sexism p***** me off. There are quite a few people in TV I’d take down. I’m like Arya Stark from Game Of Thrones, I’ve got my list of people!’

And last year Miss Rani criticised ‘posh white men’ being the ‘default’ on TV. 

In June, she said the coronavirus lockdown had helped with her grief after she suffered a miscarriage at the end of 2018.  

‘Lockdown has given me space to be more thoughtful. I will look back at this year as hopefully a moment of rebirth,’ she told Fabulous Magazine.

‘It’s difficult to talk about, because it’s bereavement. It’s a loss, and that will never change. But it’s too exhausting not living truthfully and I also thought it was too important not to use my voice.

‘Nobody talks about it, yet so many women have gone through it. Lots of women and men have reached out to me since and spoken about what they went through.’ 

Before leaving Women’s Hour, Garvey had expressed home that whoever joined 

Before leaving, Garvey, 56, expressed a hope that whoever joined Barnett in the presenting role would be closer to her own age.

‘Emma is in her 30s and that’s great,’ she told the Daily Telegraph. ‘It will give the programme a real energy, which I think is brilliant.

Emma has taken over the Radio 4 staple, which has aired since 1946

Ms Rani is joining Emma Barnett (pictured during her first show last week), who hosts the show from Monday to Thursday, in replacing previous presenters Dame Jenni Murray and Jane Garvey 

‘So I think the person working alongside her should be somebody nearer my age to make sure we give the audience as broad a range of life experience and interests as possible. I would prefer it if the other presenter were in her 50s.’

Ms Barnett took over hosting Women’s Hour from Ms Garvey on January 1. 

However, on just her third day in the hot seat, guest Kelechi Okafor stormed off the show just two minutes before airtime after claiming she overheard Ms Barnett discussing if she had made anti-Semitic remarks.     

Kelechi Okafor was set to talk about the MeToo movement on the Radio 4 show but left the Zoom call moments before it went live after the new host – in her third day in the hotseat – left her mic on during a conversation with producers.

Ms Rani, who is married to husband technology firm owner Bhupinder Rehal (pictured), started her career at the BBC on its Asian Network channel in 2005 and has also regularly presented on BBC Radio 2

Ms Rani, who is married to husband technology firm owner Bhupinder Rehal (pictured), started her career at the BBC on its Asian Network channel in 2005 and has also regularly presented on BBC Radio 2 

The actress was accused of anti-Semitism in 2017 when she defended Reggie Yates after he praised musicians who were not signed to ‘some random fat Jewish guy’.

Ms Okafor said in the now-deleted podcast: ‘Black people in the entertainment industry have been short-changed so much by the kinds of people Reggie Yates describes. Apart from the ”fat part” I don’t see what he said wrong.’

Barnett, who took over hosting the popular Radio 4 show on Monday, said she had invited Ms Okafor to debate the matter and ‘stands by her queries’.

She said it was her ‘duty to ask people what qualifies them as a leading voice in a space. And about any previous issues which may influence their views.’ 

She added: ‘Just before I went on air this morning to present a special programme about Me Too – pegged to the anniversary of Harvey Weinstein’s court case – it came to my attention that Kelechi Okafor had made alleged anti-Semitic remarks. 

‘I stand by my questions to my team and to Kelechi. I would have happily hosted her on the programme with a question on this issue.’

She said Ms Okafor denied the allegations. Campaigners have said Barnett’s gaffe meant no BAME voices were included in the MeToo discussion.

Revealing she had declined to appear on the show, Nigerian-British actress Okafor tweeted: ‘Because what I’ve just had to witness is absolutely degrading and vile.’

The mother-of-one, who has appeared in TV adverts for Maltesers, Samsung and Irn Bru, added: ‘You can have a genuine concern about something you’ve been told about me and address it in a manner that is kind. That wasn’t what took place.’

DailyMail Online


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