Anita Rani says “posh white men” are the “default” on the BBC, whereas she is “expected to explain why I should be presenting something much more than others”.
The Countryfile presenter, who was born in Bradford to Indian parents, revealed the BBC would not allow her to follow up her successful BBC Two documentary about Bollywood with another about Hollywood, asking her, “Why you, Anita?”
In contrast, she said, “You would never think to ask the number of posh white men on TV: ‘Why did you get to present shows about train travel in India?’”
This was a reference to Great Indian Railway Journeys, presented by the former Cabinet Minister Michael Portillo.
Opening Channel 4’s diversity festival in Bradford on Monday, Rani said: “I feel I have to justify why I should present things more than anyone else because I’m an Asian woman, and on top of that I’m blimmin’ northern.
A BBC spokesperson told Prolific North: “We’re proud that Anita presents some of our most popular programmes including BBC One’s War on Plastic with Hugh and Anita, Countryfile and The Victorian House of Arts and Crafts on BBC Two as well as the BBC’s recent coverage of the Royal Wedding.
“We have a wider variety of presenters and programmes than any other broadcaster, a range of initiatives to increase diversity on and off air, and commission ideas on their merit.”