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Anita Rani is one of Britain’s best loved television presenters, appearing on shows including BBC’s The One Show, Countryfile and Who Do You Think You Are? She’s also no stranger to arena shows – having made the semi-finals as a contestant on hit series Strictly Come Dancing in 2015, she went on to appear on the live tour the following year, before returning to host in 2017.
Now she’s gearing up to take on a new challenge with Blue Planet II Live in Concert – a brand new tour which will feature clips and footage from David Attenborough’s award-winning 2017 nature series alongside a live orchestra.
We caught up with her to find out more about the tour, which kicks off next March, and what audiences can expect.
What can audiences expect from Blue Planet live?
It’s difficult isn’t it because it’s not been done before, but from watching the show, this is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime, all-encompassing family experience. If you watched the TV series, and millions of us did, you will know how magical it is and it just takes us into a another world that we just knew nothing about – with so many shocks and surprises and brilliant heart-stopping moments; and that will be brought to a huge 200ft 4K screen along with an 80-piece orchestra who will be performing that incredible Hans Zimmer score in a huge arena. I think there may be tears – and that’s just me!
What is your role exactly on the tour?
So I’m the narrator and I’m going to be guiding people through each of the scenes, so I’ll remind people about what they are about to see, what they remember from the series, what they’re about to go into and provide some context behind all these incredible clips and moments from the show.
Presumably you yourself must’ve been a fan of the original series to want to take part in this?
Who wasn’t?! We’ve all grown up watching David Attenborough. In my family, it was like a proper family sit-down whenever there was any nature or natural history programmes on TV – we’d all sit down and just watch together; and Blue Planet, the first one, was made in 2001, which seems so long ago, and then this series took four years to make, and it wasn’t just a TV show, it was moment! So to be involved in this is just magical.
When the TV series first aired it felt like the most talked about show on television – like you say, everyone was watching it and coming together to experience it, so to imagine all of that amazing footage on the big screen is so exciting.
Yeah it will be exciting – and so beautiful! I just can’t wait to be involved. I mean, just watching on my small TV at home was just an incredible experience, so to see those beautiful vivid colours blown up will be mind-blowing. I mean, can you imagine seeing some of those weird creatures on the massive screen?!
It will probably be quite scary for some, no?
I know, exactly! I’m obsessed with something calling a Bobbit Worm, which was this metre-long worm at the bottom of the ocean – and while I’m not 100% sure if the Bobbit Worm will be featuring in the live show, it could be quite scary.
Do you have any other stand-out moments from the series that you’re really looking forward to seeing – or hoping to see – on the tour?
Bobbit Worm is number one, for sure – but also, who could forget the surfing dolphins? And I just loved them because it was just so beautiful to watch and the way it was shot was stunning, but then it was the bit of David’s voiceover afterward that really made it where he said: “We don’t know why they do it, but we think they just do it for fun,” and I remember thinking that was so brilliant.
How are preparations going – have you managed to see any footage on that huge screen yet?
It’s still early days for the prep, so I haven’t actually yet. All I really know is that it’s going to be this huge two-hour show and it’s going to be great. I really can’t wait! I’ve done an arena tour before, hosting and dancing on the Strictly Come Dancing tour, so I know what it’s like to feel 8,000 people in the room and it is awesome.
To hear them all gasping and breathing in collectively, it’ll feel like some sort of religious event and that’s incredibly powerful for you as a presenter. You know, I get to take them on this epic journey and guide them through these scenes under the ocean, and I don’t think I can underestimate how powerful that feeling will be when we’re all actually in the arena.
What do you think will make Blue Planet II Live so special?
Well there aren’t many things that are this important. Two-thirds of our planet is covered in oceans, we know so little about it, so I think there’s an importance to engage with that – the show really talked about ocean conservation and started some important conversations about how we think about plastics and the environment, and while I don’t think the live show will touch on that specifically, it’s important we understand as much as we can about this part of our world.
Of course, this is also the sort of thing you can come to with the whole family; you can come with granny and a 10-year-old and everyone is going to love it – and imagine bringing that 10-year-old to a show like this – they will never, ever forget going to see Blue Planet II Live in Concert. And then the main thing, of course, is that stunning 80-piece orchestra performing that wonderful Hans Zimmer music, which is just breathtaking – I mean, he knows what he’s doing, doesn’t he?
Anita Rani hosts Blue Planet II Live in Concert across its UK tour from March 2019. Tickets are on sale now and you can get yours at Ticketmaster.co.uk