Anita Rani: ‘I’ve accepted that I am never going to look like Salma Hayek’

Born in Bradford, Anita Rani, 43, was a TV researcher before landing her first presenting job on Channel 5’s The Edit. She has co-presented the BBC’s Countryfile since 2015, and this year became a co-host on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. Her memoir, The Right Sort Of Girl, has just been published. She is married and lives in London.

When were you happiest?
The day I passed my driving test, at 17.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
On Strictly, when I was doing the rumba, I was in a white leotard and you could see the crack of my ass on national telly. Does it get more embarrassing than that?

Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
My dog was quite expensive. She’s a Bedlington whippet, named Rafi after Mohammed Rafi, the famous Indian singer. She’s got a boy’s name, but she doesn’t mind.

What is your most treasured possession?
My passport.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
I’ve got quite used to my appearance after hating it for many years. I’ve accepted that I am never going to look like Salma Hayek.

What is your most unappealing habit?
I get up really early. My husband hates it.

What is your favourite smell?
Burning wood: it reminds me of being in India as a kid.

What was the best kiss of your life?
From my mum, when I was a baby.

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
No. People say no all the time, but that’s OK. You’ve got to find a way of making them say yes.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Katie Whittaker. When we were at school, I told her I knew Take That, and I didn’t.

What does love feel like?
Hard work, painful.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I am who I am because of that messed-up childhood.

When did you last cry, and why?
Watching the final episode of Mare Of Easttown.

How often do you have sex?
Not often enough.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?
Climbing Scafell Pike in the Lake District when I was about 15. The winds were about 85mph, my legs lifted and I nearly flew off. Thankfully somebody grabbed me.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I am a pretty good dog mum.

What keeps you awake at night?
Guilt for not being productive enough – ridiculous.

How would you like to be remembered?
As the billionaire philanthropist Anita Rani, who helped bring education to huge numbers of young women around the world.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
We are all energy.

Where would you most like to be right now?
On a mountain in Bhutan.