Main content

Dame Esther Rantzen, broadcaster and campaigner

Dame Esther Rantzen shares the eight tracks, book and luxury she would want to take to a desert island. With Lauren Laverne.

Dame Esther Rantzen is best known as the presenter of the long-running TV series That’s Life, which began on BBC One in 1973. She was both presenter and producer of the programme, which was hugely successful, regularly reaching 20 million viewers. It featured consumer affairs, vox pops and light-hearted pieces about talking dogs and peculiarly shaped vegetables, along with serious investigations, including reports on the safety of children’s playgrounds and on child abuse. A special edition of That’s Life in 1986 led Esther to set up Childline, the charity which offers support and information for young people.

That's Life ended after 21 years and Esther went on to present her own daytime talk show. A fan of reality TV, she’s appeared on Strictly Come Dancing, Celebrity First Dates, Celebrity Stars in their Eyes and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

It was while she was working on That’s Life that she met TV producer Desmond Wilcox. They later married and had three children. A few years after Desmond’s death, Esther wrote a newspaper article about how lonely she felt as a widow. The response inspired her to set up her second charity, Silverline, which offers friendship and advice to older, lonely people.

She has received many TV awards over the years and was made a Dame in 2015 for her charity work. She stood unsuccessfully as an independent MP for Luton South in the General Election of 2010. Now 78, she is still very involved in her charity work and is a grandmother of five.

BOOK CHOICE: Poem for the Day with a Foreword by Wendy Cope
LUXURY: A bath – sometimes filled with hot water, sometimes cold water and sometimes champagne.
CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: September Song by Frank Sinatra

Presenter: Lauren Laverne
Producer: Cathy Drysdale

Available now

49 minutes

Last on

Fri 15 Mar 2019 09:00

Music Played

  • Édith Piaf

    La vie en rose

    • La Vie En Rose.
    • EMI.
    • 13.
  • Nina Simone

    Feeling Good

    • The Very Best of Nina Simone.
    • Sony Music BMG.
    • 3.
  • Ella Fitzgerald

    Blue Moon

    • Essential Ella.
    • Verve.
    • 7.
  • Frank Sinatra

    September Song

    • September of My Years.
    • Reprise.
    • 13.
  • Itzhak Perlman

    Theme from Schindler's List

    • Schindler’s List: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
    • MCA.
    • 1.
  • Peter Auty

    Walking in the Air

    • The Snowman.
    • CBS ‎.
    • 2.
  • Pharrell Williams

    Happy

    • GIRL.
    • Columbia.
    • 5.
  • Edward Elgar

    Chanson de matin op. 15, No. 2

    Orchestra: BBC Concert Orchestra. Conductor: Barry Wordsworth.
    • BBC Concert Orchestra Plays Classical Masterpieces.
    • Bellevue.
    • 2.

Broadcasts

  • Sun 10 Mar 2019 11:15
  • Fri 15 Mar 2019 09:00

The Desert Island Discs podcast

The Desert Island Discs podcast

Subscribe or download individual episodes.

Listen to over 2,000 programmes

Articles

Articles

Read the surprising things we've learned about some stand-out castaways.

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

Featuring David Beckham, the funniest and most moving moments, animations and quizzes.

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

Why does Vaughan Williams’s masterpiece appeal to so many castaways?

Podcast