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Countryfile presenter Anita Rani has said that she can “breathe for the first time” after getting a divorce, explaining how she can finally do what she “truly wants to do”.

Writing in The Sunday Times, the 46-year-old, who is best known as host of the BBC nature programme and Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, reflected on how becoming single in her mid-forties has allowed her to realise that she is “answerable to no one”.

Rani, who doesn’t have children, said the concept of divorce is “complex, especially if you are born with a vagina”.

She went on to reflect on how she had been raised to be a high achiever who would go on to fulfil a “dutiful role”, with certain expectations placed upon her.

“I was also raised never to bring shame,” she said. “This is where it gets kind of problematic, especially if you are born with a vagina. So I guess I’ve lived in extreme conflict. I’ve done my ‘duty’, but resented that I had to do it.”

Rani explained the complexity of getting a divorce, especially ‘if you are born with a vagina’
Rani explained the complexity of getting a divorce, especially ‘if you are born with a vagina’ (Getty Images for Universal Pictu)

“Becoming single in my mid-forties has made me re-evaluate everything. It has made me see how much I have been conditioned to be a dutiful woman, rather than a free woman. Until now.

“Now I feel as if I’m beginning to breathe for the first time, do what I truly want to. And now hitting my mid-forties has given me a sense of urgency.”

While she may have gone against her family’s expectations, Rani said she is looking at her journey post-divorce as “chapter two”.

“It’s not easy to talk about and it’s private, so I won’t, but what I will tell you is how I feel about my life going forward now that I am answerable to no one,” she said.

Following her divorce, the presenter has moved into a flat she has owned for two decades and created what she calls “a little sanctuary” for herself.

Rani on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ in 2015
Rani on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ in 2015 (PA)

“I bought a flat about 20 years ago, which I kept for all these years, and I’ve moved back into it,” she told Good Housekeeping in May. Rani added that she had taken pleasure in decorating the home exactly how she wanted.

“When I first became single, a friend said, ‘You could make your little apartment like a Parisienne dream house’ – and that’s exactly what I’ve done.

“I have lovely cream drapes and white floorboards. My bedroom is dusky pink and I’ve turned my spare room into a dressing room,” she said.

“Just talking about it makes me happy! It’s my little sanctuary and it feels really important to have that.”

The presenter met her former partner in 2008 at a London rave, where the pair reportedly hit it off over a shared love of music. They quickly progressed in to a relationship and married the following year. They split in September last year.

Rani, who has been a Countryfile presenter since 2015 and on Woman’s Hour since 2021, has described her situation as like being in “uncharted territory”.

“I’m a single, Asian woman with no children, and do you know what? I love it! I’ve sort of got a blank slate in front of me, and that feels really good,” said Rani.

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