REVIEW: Esther Rantzen

That’s Life!

Forest Arts Centre, New Milton

CELEBRATING 50 years in broadcasting, effervescent journalist and TV presenter Esther Rantzen shares the stage with her daughter Rebecca Wilcox, discussing careers, personal lives and contemporary issues.

The charismatic Rantzen, now aged 77, is still fluent, informative, thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining, explaining how her popular prime-time TV show That’s Life! attracted over 20 million viewers and 15,000 letters each week (before the days of emails, texts, and social media).

As a tireless and compassionate campaigner against human cruelty, Rantzen founded Childline in 1986, helping more than 4 million children to combat abuse, get professional help, and transform lives.

More recently, the creative and caring Rantzen has founded The Silver Line charity, trying to combat the stigma of loneliness in elderly people. She explains that this problem is not just concerned with the loss of a long-loved wife, partner or husband (like her own beloved “Desie” Wilcox), but also loss of a job, sight, hearing, memory, mental health, confidence and self-esteem.

Apparently, the “worst times are what should be the happiest times”, with calls to Silver Line (free and confidential) increasing dramatically (and probably predictably) over Christmas and New Year. As the wise, intelligent and perceptive Esther Rantzen observes, “Hope is what makes life worth living”.

Esther Rantzen’s fascinating That’s Life! plays Chandlers Ford’s Thornden Hall on April 5, Winchester’s Theatre Royal on September 23, and Fareham’s Ashcroft Arts Centre on October 4.

Brendan McCusker