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The surprising way Strictly Come Dancing changed Anita Rani's life

The TV star danced her way to the Strictly semi-finals in 2015

Sharnaz Shahid

With only a few months to go before we find out who will take part in this year's Strictly Come Dancing, former contestant Anita Rani has been reminiscing about her time on the BBC ballroom show. The Countryfile presenter, who was partnered up with professional dancer Gleb Savchenko in 2015, impressed the judges and audiences alike week after week, before reaching the semi-final. But the one thing which has left a lasting impression on Anita is the effect of all that dancing had on her life. Speaking exclusively to HELLO!, she shared: "I think I grew a little bit after Strictly actually. I'm sure I grew half an inch, and it must be my posture. But I never did ballet, I think the big giveaway is that I don't have natural poise."

Anita Rani appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2015

She added: "If only my mother had put me into ballet classes! It's kind of learning to sit with your shoulders back, stomach in, all of that... although you do forget it quite quickly! If you've trained from a young age, it's instilled in you." However, it was the taking part in the BBC competition which had the most impact. "My life has changed a lot, beyond recognition," she explained. "I don't think I'd be sitting here talking to HELLO! if I hadn't done Strictly, necessarily, or on Countryfile for that matter. It made me a household name. People really got to know me, and I love that. I go around Britain filming Countryfile and people want to talk about Strictly. They'll always tell me I was robbed!"

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When quizzed about the moment she was asked by show bosses to take part, she revealed: "There is nothing that prepares you and nothing in the world like Strictly. I instantly said yes when they asked me to do it because it's amazing and what an opportunity to learn how to dance. But it's the hardest thing." Anita then went to heap praise on the support she received from Strictly fans, saying: "Anybody who watched me will know, how much hard work I put into it. I had to because I'd never danced before. Week in, week out, I trained so hard and - to use the 'J' word - my journey was amazing, but only because the British public got behind me. The British public like a grafter, they like to see someone putting their all in to something and flourishing. I think they could see something that I couldn't even see."

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The TV star was paired up with Gleb Savchenko

Speaking about the antics behind the screen, Anita confessed that everyone was full of excitement. "Being with professional dancers, they are so full of energy," she explained. "They are amazing. Janette Manrara is phenomenal, Karen Clifton is hilarious. They are brilliant fun. In terms of the celebrities, I did it with my year, and I danced with Helen George who is just so lovely, we became really really good buddies." She added: "Georgia May Foote, the most beautiful girl. Frankie Bridge, brilliant. When I hosted the tour, Ed Balls was on tour. I got to sit on a tour bus with Ed Balls and Lesley Joseph is amazing. She is the biggest party animal. Like phenomenal. Lesley Joseph is a hero."

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