INTERVIEW: Anita RaniPosted by: Richard Abbey
Photo credit: Simon Webb
We sat down for a chat with the TV personality ahead of her stint as the host of Blue Planet II – Live in Concert, coming to Sheffield Arena next year
Take a deep breath and get ready to submerge yourself in Blue Planet II – Live in Concert, the tour which is set to be the big arena event of 2019.
As well as winning numerous awards, including a BAFTA, Blue Planet II touched so many people when it aired on BBC One at the start of the year, highlighting not only the majesty but the plight facing our oceans now and in the coming years. The arena tour is a live adaptation of a television story that began some 20 years ago when a team of wildlife filmmakers from the BBC’s natural history unit set out to make a series on the world’s oceans, the breadth and scale of which had never been seen before.
During the four-year filming of Blue Planet II, the teams embarked on 125 expeditions, travelled to 39 countries, filmed on all continents and in every ocean. Logistically, some of these expeditions could be compared to a trip in space – such was the effort. Anyone who saw the series, could see that it was worth it.
Blue Planet II – Live in Concert will feature the best bits of the series presented on a giant state-of-the-art 4K Ultra HD LED screen. The stunning visuals will be complemented by the series’ moving score, which was composed by Hans Zimmer, Jacob Shea and David Fleming, and will be performed by the 80-piece Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Tying the whole together will be recently-announced host, Anita Rani, who will be taking on an Attenborough-esque role.
To say the Bradford-born TV personality was excited at the prospect is something of an understatement.“I’m the jammiest person on Earth at the minute,” she enthused. “It’s one of those moments when, without thinking, you just say ‘yes’. To be part of the Blue Planet II brand, to be deemed good enough to be able to do this, just personally, it’s a big, big moment in my life.”
Anita is well known and well liked for her various TV roles, which includes The Edit, Cricket AM, The One Show, Countryfile and Strictly Come Dancing. And she’s (not so) secretly delighted that this tour allows her to live out one of her own personal fantasies.
“Come on, who doesn’t want to be Beyonce? A small part of me would love to be Beyonce but I need to accept that’s probably not going to happen but I’m still going to be able to do an arena tour with Blue Planet II. I’m very excited.”
So what can audiences expect?
“The whole thing is going to be a very powerful, overwhelming experience for anyone who comes along to see the show,” explains Anita. “Even though it’s huge, with thousands of people in the auditorium, it should have a real intimacy about it, we’re all going on a deep sea journey together.
“The key thing about it is it’s family entertainment. We want it to be cross-generational, we want you to have the experience that you have at home watching it with the whole family and for people to walk out there talking about it.
“But it’s more than just a show they’ll talk about, it’ll be a feeling they’ll have forever. Can you imagine being able to come and see something like this at the age of eight? It’ll be one of those moments in your life you’ll never forget.”
There’s no surprise that Anita, like many of us, was a huge fan of the series. “You’re watching it and you cannot believe what you’re seeing,” she says. “There was one scene with a squid that could change its colour and can camouflage itself. That’s real, that’s actually happening, that’s not CGI, it’s not Pixar-animated… it really puts us as a human race in perspective. It’s very humbling.”
In the short time I spent speaking with Anita it was clear that she is hugely passionate about this next career step, she’s bubbly, bright and still retains plenty of that Yorkshire sense of humour. When I raised the point about spending 13 weeks on tour she was positively ecstatic: “I’ll be on that bus raising hell! Watch out Nottingham, watch out Leeds, there’ll be TVs flying out of hotel room windows… I can’t wait!”
Of course you don’t need to be from Yorkshire to recognise her tongue was planted firmly in cheek during that exchange but you get the sense she’s fun to be around and will always have a cup of Yorkshire tea at hand – she carries a box of teabags with her whenever she’s filming.
Aside from preparing for the Blue Planet II tour, Anita has launched her own podcast – It’s Anita Rani – which centres around extraordinary interviews with inspiring people. There’s a couple more TV projects lined up too but in her own words “I can’t talk about them until I can talk about them”.
It seems the star that is Anita Rani is very much in the ascendancy.
You can see Blue Planet II – Live in Concert at Sheffield’s FlyDSA Arena on 28 March 2019. See www.flydsaarena.co.uk for further details.