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‘I’ll be back, but as a guest’

Mandira Bedi on her exit from Set Max’s post-match analysis show and her current IPL show on ITV UK that’s grabbing the eyeballs.

entertainment Updated: Mar 21, 2010 14:03 IST
Rachana Dubey
Rachana Dubey
Hindustan Times

How did you land the ITV show on IPL?
One evening, I got a call from the ITV office in London. They asked me if I was committed to a show in India during IPL Season Three. They were looking to have me on board to front their coverage with one of the ITV sports presenters. I had dates to spare and everything has worked out well.
Don’t you miss the Indian audience?
I do. But now I can reach out to a new set of viewers in UK. Though I am in London right now, I will be back in India in the first half of April. I plan to travel extensively and watch some of the matches. I will also be conducting interviews for ITV. So, I’m not really going to miss out on the action. I will return to London for the last 10 days of the tournament.
The Set Max guys say that the channel decided to give you a break from IPL this year?
They told me they wanted to try something new this season with a team of male presenters. I will be
in the studio when I am in India for the IPL.
If the buzz is to be believed, the channel wanted you out because they felt that you were past your prime as an anchor.
That quote was attributed to “a source”. I would believe it if the comment had a name attached to it!
Did you see your ouster coming?
I was brought on board for the IPL last year with no promises that I would be retained this year. Set Max likes to experiment. So, when I found out I wasn’t on the anchors’ team this season, I was hugely disappointed but not really surprised.
What’s the ITV show all about?
It’s a wraparound show. I’m stationed in a studio with co-host Matt Smith. We have ex-cricketers
like Clive Lloyd, Vikram Solanki, Graham Thorpe, Graeme Hick, Alec Stewart and Mark Ram Prakash stepping in
every day. We talk about the game before, during and after the match. Everytime that there is a commercial break on Indian TV, we talk over live images. I don’t have even a second to breathe through the day. Phew!
Will you be associated with the forthcoming T-20 World Cup?
No, I won’t be.
Do you plan to come back to India and join the IPL presenters’ panel?
This season, I will show up only as a guest. I’m not certain what will happen next year.
Apparently, the ITV ratings have shot up since you stepped in?
Yeah, I’ve been told the ratings have escallated by seven times this last year.
Do you plan to take on anchoring for other sports too?
I can only concentrate on one thing at a time. Though I have hosted events connected with other sports, I don’t plan to focus on a sport other than cricket since I wouldn’t know too much about it.
Once again your body and hair-do was the subject of a national debate shortly before the IPL opened.
I don’t know what the fuss was all about. I’ve lost some weight, sure, but that’s only because I was to be fit. And I’ve cut my hair short because I wanted a new look. It’s not a valid subject for a national debate.
Over the last few years, have you become close to any cricketer?
I have met several of them for interviews. A few are also my friends now. But I’d rather not mention names.
Have you faced any kind of gender bias on the cricket field?
None so far, thank God!
There are many women sports anchors now, including Anjum Chopra, former captain of the women’s cricket team?
Yes, women have found their place in this male sport. Every channel has women sports anchors now and that’s very encouraging.
After the cricket season is over, will you be doing any TV soaps or reality shows?
No TV soaps for now. I’d like to host a reality show but I won’t participate in one. Please, that’s so tiring!
And movies?
It’s only cricket for me, darling!

First Published: Mar 21, 2010 13:57 IST