Inspiration

Bradford-born presenter Anita Rani tells us about her roots, Countryfile highs and what she’s looking forward to in 2019.

Yorkshire is who I am and has always been a part of my life.
Bradford is such a handsome city and it’s where I spent a lot of my time as a kid, walking up and down the hilly streets. My mum and dad had a factory in the heart of Bradford and I’d be there pretty much every day after school. One early memory I do have is of starlings, lots of them, in the city centre.

Yorkshire is in my blood.
It’s in my accent. I grew up amongst wonderful culture, humour and friendly chat, experiencing a lot of this when I was little and spending time on Yorkshire markets.

I moved to London in 2001 but there are so many things I enjoy when I come back.
Bradford is located in the middle of beautiful surrounding countryside, there’s Ilkley Moor, Baildon Moor and Shipley Glen, all great places for walking. There’s also so much culture, with the Alhambra Theatre, the newly renovated St George’s Hall for concerts and you can always get a great curry.

There’s a very strong feeling of cultural identity in Yorkshire,
it’s the biggest county in England, it’s stunningly beautiful and there’s a distinct sense of humour that I love. I always have a running joke when I meet somebody new “How can you tell if someone’s from Yorkshire? They’ll tell you in the first five minutes.” That’s me, that’s what I do (laughs). From Hull Truck Theatre to Northern Ballet, of which I’m honoured to be on the Board of Directors and although I never had a tutu or even danced as a child, I love the arts and dance. Yorkshire is Hockney country, Henry Moore’s from the county and there are so many creative people.

Countryfile is a gift of a programme and is so loved.
I’ve been lucky enough to travel the length and breadth of the country and I got to rock-climb in Malham, but when filming in Yorkshire, I feel I’ve come home, so it doesn’t feel like work. In August BBC Countryfile Live will be at the stunningly beautiful Castle Howard in North Yorkshire. It’ll be like a homecoming and fantastic fun. I’ll be having a wander, meeting people and sampling gorgeous food. It’s a fabulous country fair but it appeals to city people too.

The Brontës are inspirational Yorkshire people.
I grew up so close to Haworth where they lived and wrote their amazing stories. Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is my favourite book. It’s dark and broody with a wonderful description of the moors and landscape, a mixture of romance and eeriness. I find it all deeply romantic.

Jodie Whittaker, Doctor Who, is flying the flag for Yorkshire in a brilliant way.
I saw her being interviewed recently and she was talking about Wakefield but she called it Wakey. (laughs)

The Yorkshire countryside is dramatic and varied.
There’s a real contrast from the Yorkshire Dales to the North York Moors and it’s such a stunning drive out to the coast. When I moved to London I was told that there’s lots of countryside in the capital but I thought ‘what?’ Not when you’ve lived in Yorkshire. There are so many places to explore but I did walk the Dales Way over five days when I was young.

Whitby is my favourite place in Yorkshire.
It’s like stepping back in time and I love its mysterious feel. I have strong childhood memories of regular trips there. There’s phenomenal history all around the county but Saltaire is spectacular, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the creation of manufacturer and philanthropist Sir Titus Salt. What a character, with such vision.

Yorkshire is the best place in Britain!
It’s quintessentially English and there’s so much variety with gorgeous villages, stunning countryside, fabulous cities and there are airports so people can easily get to it. My perfect day out would be going to Saltaire and Salts Mill, followed by a drive to Bolton Abbey, then up to Malham and it’s essential to fit in a Bradford curry at some point. Rudding Park is a beautiful hotel and I’d love to stay at The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa near Bolton Abbey.

I’d still love to visit many places in Yorkshire.
My husband’s a southerner and I want to take him to lots of the little villages in the Dales and to make sure it includes great food in an old inn with an open fire. I’ve also read about the Michelin-starred The Star Inn at Harome, it looks beautiful.

People are always surprised that I love underground drum and bass music.
When I was at Leeds Uni I loved going clubbing and I have a huge CD collection that I need to digitise.

I got married in 2009 so that was a good year
and in 2015 I took part in the amazing Strictly Come Dancing, I was on Who Do You Think You Are and I started work on Countryfile, not bad There’s so much I’d still love to achieve, including writing. I’m a firm believer that there are no limits to what you can do and that the best is yet to come.

I’m excited about my podcast It’s Anita Rani
that’s happening now. Of course I’m looking forward to Countryfile Live in August at Castle Howard and I’m presenting Blue Planet II on an arena tour in March and it’s coming to Leeds and Sheffield. I’ll be with an 80-piece orchestra, but don’t worry, I won’t be conducting. (laughs)

This article was taken from This is Y 2019.