While Anita Rani is set to present new series War on Plastic with Hugh and Anita on Tuesday night, she previously revealed that Meghan Markle is on her wish list to be a guest another show she presents, Countryfile. "She's an incredible, very cool, stylish woman," told HELLO! in August 2018.
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"I also love her for declaring she’s a feminist. It would be great to have her – and Kate [the Duchess of Cambridge] – on Countryfile and get an insight into their countryside. They’d be a dream to interview." Speaking about her love of royals, she added: "On top of that, it was amazing to see how much love Harry has for Meghan. His openness in showing emotion is a testament to his mum, Diana.
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"When I was talking about her to my husband Bhupi, he told me he'd had a crush on Diana since the age of three when she visited his nursery and he sat on her lap. We don’t have a photo; if anyone out there can provide one I'd love to see it." The presenter continued: "Diana was the first radical member of the royal family; the first to hug and show affection in public and, as a radical member of my own family, you bring a certain energy."
Anita Rani would love to meet Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle
Anita, 40, who grew up in Bradford speaking English and Punjabi, opened up about her heritage and how her Indian parents supported her ambitions. "My parents encouraged me to follow my dreams," she explained. "I was – and still am – outspoken, confident, and focused on what I want to do. The best advice was from my mum, who told me to let nothing hold me back – and never to tread on people to get to where I wanted."
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The daughter of Indian immigrants, Anita grew up in Bradford speaking both English and Punjabi. But unlike her parents, whose (very happy) marriage was arranged, she became the first woman in her family to choose her own partner and path in life. "My parents encouraged me to follow my dreams," she revealed. "I was – and still am – outspoken, confident and focused on what I want to do. The best advice was from my mum, who told me to let nothing hold me back – and never to tread on people to get to where I wanted."
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Anita, who studied broadcasting at Leeds University, met Bhupi Rehal, who runs a tech company, through mutual friends, and tied the knot in a traditional Sikh ceremony. "I was 30, which for an Indian girl is so past it," she laughed. "Two days later, I presented Watchdog."
If there's one thing that irks Anita, it's the suggestion that presenting a show about the British countryside is somehow incongruous for a British Asian woman. "It surprises me because where I lived as a child was surrounded by beautiful countryside," she shared. "My parents would take me and my younger brother for picnics to the Yorkshire Dales, the Lake District and Ilkley Moor. I loved being outside, the feeling of driving down country lanes to the middle of nowhere."
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"It's important as someone from the North, from a city, from an Asian background, to have a presence in a programme like Countryfile," she added. "There's an irony to people thinking that ethnic minorities going into the countryside is strange. My dad’s family is part of a farming community, with wheat fields and tractors, just like the places we visit on the show. But I genuinely think people who watch Countryfile just see me, not the colour of my skin."
With the scandal of workplace inequality and the gender pay gap – the top 12 earners at the BBC are all men – being a hot topic, Anita said she welcomes a change in direction. "It's wonderfully empowering to hear women and people of colour finally being able to speak out about inequality,” she revealed. "Our experiences and chances haven’t been the same for generations. It's time we all accepted that and worked towards redressing the balance. Pay should be equal."
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