She is a popular presenter of BBC One’s Countryfile and has presented numerous BBC documentaries including Bollywood: The World’s Biggest Film Industry, My Family, Partition and Me: India 1947, and War on Plastic with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
The BBC is committed to putting more BAME presenters on the airwaves. An Ofcom report published in November found that people from minority ethnic backgrounds were under-represented in radio.
A BBC source said Rani’s background plus her broad appeal on television could help to bring new listeners to Radio 4. “Audiences know her from Countryfile, from Strictly, different places where maybe people don’t currently listen to Woman’s Hour,” the source said.
Rani will present her first show this Friday. She 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.”
Rani has previously said that being female, Asian and a northerner was a “triple whammy” that differentiated her from many people in the broadcast industry.
The presenter said television executives happily gave her a Bollywood documentary but were less keen when she suggested a follow-up about Hollywood.
“The question that came back was, ‘Why you, Anita? We can understand why you’d make a programme about Bollywood. But Hollywood? What’s that got to do with you?’
“You’d never think to ask a number of posh white men on TV, ‘Why did you get to present shows about train travel in India?’”