Good Morning Britain's Ranvir Singh on growing up in Preston and dreams of ballet
PUBLISHED: 00:00 14 September 2015 | UPDATED: 17:39 21 October 2015
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Ranvir Singh's role as a broadcaster has brought her great success but it hasn't all been plain sailing, writes Mairead Mahon
Her track record as a broadcaster meant it was no surprise when Lancashire lass Ranvir Singh was selected to present ITV’s new primetime series, Real Stories. But at one stage she harboured dreams of life as a ballet dancer.
‘Well, I think the world of ballet had a very lucky escape,’ said Preston-born Ranvir. ‘It’s true that when I was much younger, I had a very, shall we say, enthusiastic attitude toward it and may have even entertained ideas of setting the ballet world alight.
‘However, when my teacher described what I thought was a very elegant move as “landing like an elephant” I had to acknowledge any ambition in that area was only a pipe dream.’
A holiday job in a pharmacy also turned to ashes when the police arrived and told Ranvir to go home as they were arresting the pharmacist. A job in a popcorn factory went pop when it was discovered that she had bagged the wrong weights
‘It was mortifying, especially as everyone else had to stay late to rectify my mistake but the bright side was that I did get to eat lots of popcorn,’ says the former Kirkham Grammar pupil.
However, there was to be an even better bright side for Ranvir when she went to Lancaster University to read English and Philosophy.
‘I know lots of people like to move away from their home county to go to college but I love Lancashire. Besides, I didn’t want to leave my mum by herself. She had done a fantastic job of bringing me up on her own, as my dad died when I was nine, and my sisters were much older. Anyway, the most popular girl at school had gone to Lancaster and if it was good enough for her, it was good enough for me,’ she says.
It was a decision that she never regretted and when she graduated, it was a chance remark that led her to journalism. ‘I had thought about teaching, but I really do believe that one has to have a vocation for it and I also considered law but it would have been too costly. Then, I was chatting to a girl at the Sikh Temple in Preston who had also studied English and who had gone on to study journalism and, as she said it, I just knew that it would be exactly right for me.
‘I knew my dad would have encouraged it, as a memory of him was that he was a great believer in the news, no phones were answered in our house when it was on and, even better, the best journalism course was in Preston at the University of Central Lancashire. No need to leave Lancashire. That decided it.’
It was certainly the right decision; although she can clearly recall the moment she thought her television career had stopped just as it had barely begun.
‘This was my first time on live television and I was covering a U2 concert. I wasn’t nervous, I just wanted to do my best. All was going well until someone I was interviewing swore. I just knew I was going to be in serious trouble. Sure enough, my boss asked to see me and with heavy heart, I went to her office only for her to tell me that I had handled it well and that I was a “natural.” I can’t describe the relief.’
Her boss had judged correctly and today Ranvir is one of the country’s most popular broadcasters with her work on programmes such as North West Tonight, Daybreak and Good Morning Britain leading to her being awarded an Honorary Fellowship for Services to Broadcasting by the University of Central Lancashire.
‘Since working for breakfast television, I’ve had to be very organised, especially since I’m now a mum to a little boy but I am disciplined about getting to bed by nine - essential as I have to be up at 3.30am.’
Ranvir was involved with the recently launched Real Stories from the start and was given free rein to come up with ideas. ‘I have always loved getting under the skin of normal people, finding out what makes them tick, what makes them extraordinary and this is exactly what we do in the programme. It’s about people’s lives and I’m aware of the responsibility that has been entrusted to me,’ says Ranvir.
All the stories covered are very moving, including a 12-year-old autistic boy who finds escape from his closed in world by bonding with horses. One story that made a particular impression on Ranvir is a 45-year-old mother who is awaiting the UK’s first double hand transplant.
‘It is very hard to imagine what this woman’s life is like but her reason for wanting to go through with this procedure will resonate with every parent. I have to say her story made my jaw drop. Working on this programme has given me a heart and a head workout at the same time.’
Giving her head a workout is something that Ranvir enjoys and sometimes she is brave enough to do it on television in front of an audience of millions.
‘Yes, I appeared on Family Fortunes but I didn’t cover myself in glory. My sisters, who were on my team, were most put out and blamed me...unfairly I think but what can you say when your two older sisters gang up! If I had to do a specialist subject on television, I would probably choose the beauty spots of Lancashire of which there are plenty. One of my favourites is Silverdale. I remember the first time I saw it, the river there did literally look silver and it took my breath away. Mind you, I like the hustle and bustle of our county too: obviously Lancaster and Preston but places like Burnley and Blackburn have their own secret charms,’ says Ranvir.
Maybe she might consider giving Kermit the Frog a tour of her beloved county - after all she lists kissing him on television as one of the highlights of her career. That has got to be one of the best compliments Kermit has ever had.