Ranvir Singh (English & Philosophy, 1998, Pendle) is a television presenter and journalist best known as a newsreader.
She joined Gordon Burns as the main female co-anchor on BBC North West Tonight in 2005 and, after maternity leave in 2012, joined ITV, first on Daybreak and then Good Morning Britain. In addition, she has recently appeared as an occasional broadcaster on the early evening news and the ITV News at Ten. She received an alumni award from Lancaster in July 2014 when we took the opportunity to ask her about her time at Lancaster and beyond.
Why did you choose Lancaster University?
My super bright friend, Michelle, used to run races in Lancaster and was intent on going to university there. I admired her and thought ‘if it’s good enough for her, it must be good enough for me too!’ Also, my family were keen for me to stay close by and the campus felt like a safe environment – a town in itself.
What are your first memories of when you arrived?
I remember nervously unpacking, carrying lots of kitchenware and trying to find the right shelves in the fridge/cupboards for everything. I also remember a warm welcome from my friend, Annabel, who, once the families had disappeared, invited me into her room where we sampled neat Southern Comfort!
What was the most valuable part of your student experience?
Philosophy seminars, as I didn’t realise that it was possible for my brain to actually hurt from thinking (in a good way!)
Who/what at the University particularly inspired you and why?
Robert Hewison, Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies, inspired me. He was a tall, imposing and expressive orator and passionate about his subject. I was mesmerised.
Did you have a favourite student meal/snack?
I remember the pizzas we bought from the pizza place on campus, which tasted particularly good at 3am.
Would you like to be a student again – if so, would you do it differently?
Yes I would like to do it again (if I were that age again) and I would try to enjoy the first year a bit more without being so nervous.
How often have you been back to campus since you graduated?I don’t come back very often, but the turning point to reconnect was when I got involved with the Christmas edition of University Challenge last year. I did come back for the Roses weekend this year with a group of my alumni friends.
How useful was your LU degree to your current role?My English degree was hugely useful to my career in journalism, but also being made to think critically and question is at the heart of my work, so it was all very relevant.
What’s a typical day at work?
My presenting role for ITN means the alarm goes at 2.20am and a car comes for me at 3am. I then do my emails and try to grab 25 minutes sleep. I meet the production team at 4.15am, check the papers, sort my hair and make-up and need to be ready by 5.45am to go on air at 6am. After the programme goes out, there is a post-programme meeting to check what’s coming up and I try to leave by 11am. If I am presenting in the evening as well, I try to sleep in the dressing room for a while before moving to another building where I work from 3pm-11pm. I average about 4 ½ -5 hours sleep a night!
Do you have a favourite interviewee?
I tend to prefer interviewing the less famous, although Kermit the Frog was a particular favourite and brought the building to a standstill when he arrived! I also enjoyed interviewing various politicians during the expenses row.
Do you still come back to the North?
I probably only visit two or three times a year at the moment when there are specific reasons. This is due to work commitments.
What has been your greatest extravagance?
I don’t tend to buy much for myself, but I do treat my little boy to some very smart clothes!
What was your most embarrassing moment in the job?
This was probably when I was working for GMR. In addition to presenting, you also ‘drive’ the desk yourself. During a Champion’s League match, I asked the sports correspondent if this was the furthest Manchester United had ever reached in the competition whilst trying to juggle the demands of the technology, to which he replied that they had actually won it on several other occasions. As I left the building, I realised it would be a while before I lived that one down and resolved to check up on my sport in future!
How did you enjoy the University Challenge experience?
I thoroughly enjoyed it and the four of us (Roger Ashton-Griffiths, Brian Clegg and Matthew Fort) regularly communicate and meet up -albeit an unlikely foursome! We even met up for lunch at BAFTA recently.
Are you a home bird or party-goer?
It depends on how I’m feeling, but I can do both.
What next – any further ambitions?
My current ambition is to carve an even better career for myself at ITV with more appearances on the 6.30pm and ten o’clock news!
You can follow Ranvir on Twitter @ranvir01