BLUE PLANET II ON TOUR
One of the BBC’s most-watched programmes of all time, Blue Planet 2 is now preparing to go live on an arena tour. Carl Marsh chats to Anita Rani, who has been selected to narrate the tour.
Anita Rani has many strings to her bow, including an appearance on Strictly Come Dancing in 2015, but her real talent lies in presenting current affairs and factual TV programmes, both past and present. Now she finds herself on the live tour of Blue Planet 2 – the BBC’s groundbreaking TV show, initially narrated by Sir David Attenborough.
Is Anita worried about filling such big shoes? “I’m not thinking about filling anyone’s shoes. David Attenborough, he’s an entity. He’s a god. We’ve actually called him God in our house. What I’m doing is something completely different. We’re taking the show on the road, and I’ve been asked to come in as a narrator and just to take the audience on this beautiful journey.
“It’s about those epic pictures they’ll be watching on a huge screen and the phenomenal score that Hans Zimmer, Jacob Shea and David Fleming did. That is what they’re coming to experience. I’m just going to be the glue that brings it all together.”
Surely though, by taking on this commitment, she’ll be rewatching Blue Planet 2 over and over again?
“I will watch it before, probably, because it’s one of those programs that you can watch over and over again anyway. Best hangover TV ever! [laughs] How will I prepare? Doing some deep-breathing exercises, getting in the zone. Standing up and hosting in front of thousands of people in an arena tour is going to be quite an experience. I’m just so excited about it.
“I think what I’m going to have to do is try and control my emotions every night because it’s going to be quite an overwhelming experience. The TV show was more than a TV show. It’s a moment in history, really.”
For those coming to see the show, it will certainly all be synonymous with the TV program, but how will the tour differ to just watching the DVD? “There’ll be different scenes from the program with the 80-piece orchestra performing the live music,” Anita says, “and I will be doing the bits where I will be coming out onto the stage, talking to the audience – introducing each scene, if you like, so that people know where they’re heading next.”
With a plethora of presenters that would kill for this job, how did Rani land it? “I just wrote a cheque to the right person, and I got the job!” she laughs. Jokes aside, was there an interview process, or anything of the sort?
“No, gone are the days when you get interviewed – oh my God, imagine getting interviewed as a presenter? A long, long time ago, they used to do screen tests. It’s such an honour and such a privilege. You take it on board that somebody powerful enough to make these decisions happened to think that you can do the job. It’s a big, old thing to be able to do. I hope to do it justice.”
One day David Attenborough will call it a day, so by proving herself on this tour will this put a big tick on Rani’s CV?
“No, no, no. He’s not going anywhere, for starters. I’ve got my own trajectory, and I’m having a great time doing the sort of things that I’m doing. I’m really lucky, I’m getting some great programs, and I’m part of some amazing projects. I’m just going to keep ploughing away, doing what I do.”
Blue Planet 2, Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, Thurs 14 Mar. Tickets: from £40. Info: 029 2022 4488 / www.motorpointarenacardiff.co.uk