COUNTRYFILE HOST host Anita Rani is to join Emma Barnett as a presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
She will present the Friday and Saturday editions of the long-running programme, beginning on 15 January.
Rani, 43, said she had “long been a fan” of the programme and that she was “really looking forward to getting to know the listeners and discussing issues that matter to them the most”.
Long-time hosts Jane Garvey and Dame Jenni Murray left the show last year.
Barnett, 35, who made her name on Radio 5 Live and Newsnight, made her Woman’s Hour debut on 4 January. She hosts the show from Monday to Thursday.
Writing on Twitter, Rani said it was “an honour” to be joining Radio 4’s “mothership”.
Rani joined the BBC’s Asian Network in 2005 and is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 2. She is also known for her appearances on The One Show and Watchdog, and for competing on the 2015 series of Strictly Come Dancing.
“Woman’s Hour has always given a voice to people who may not be heard elsewhere and I want to continue that important tradition,” she said.
Radio 4 controller Mohit Bakaya said he wanted the station to “better reflect and be relevant to the audience across the UK”. Rani will bring “a wealth of broadcasting experience” as well as a “valuable” perspective and insight, he added.
Comedian Shappi Khorsandi was among those to welcome her new role, saying she would be “listening even more”.
Rani’s appointment means the new Woman’s Hour presenters are considerably younger than their predecessors. Dame Jenni was 70 when she left on 1 October, while Garvey was 56 when she signed off last month.
Before leaving, Garvey expressed a hope that whoever joined Barnett would be closer to her own age.
“Emma is in her 30s and that’s great,” she told the Daily Telegraph. “It will give the programme a real energy, which I think is brilliant.
“So I think the person working alongside her should be somebody nearer my age to make sure we give the audience as broad a range of life experience and interests as possible. I would prefer it if the other presenter were in her 50s.”
Barnett had an eventful first week on the Radio 4 institution, opening her stint by reading out a message from The Queen.
Two days later, one of her guests dropped out of a discussion after objecting to remarks the presenter made about her off air. BBC