Esther is an English journalist and television presenter, who is best known for presenting the BBC television series That’s Life!, and for her work in various charitable causes. Esther Rantzen CBE began her television career as a clerk in the programme planning department, then obtained her first production job working as a researcher on the BBC One late-night satire programme, BBC3 (1965–66), created by Ned Sherrin. Having worked as a researcher on a number of Current Affairs programmes, she moved to the award-winning BBC Two documentary series Man Alive in the mid-1960s.
In 1968, Rantzen became one of the onscreen presenters of the BBC consumer show Braden’s Week, presented by Bernard Braden. In 1972, Braden decided to return to his native Canada to present a similar TV show there, and the following year, the BBC replaced Braden’s Week with That’s Life! with Rantzen as the main presenter.
That’s Life! ran on BBC One for 21 years (1973 to 1994) becoming one of the most popular shows on British television, reaching audiences of more than 18 million.
Rantzen also devised the documentary series The Big Time in 1976, which launched the singing career of Sheena Easton.
She was also one of the founders of TV-am, the company selected to launch ITV’s breakfast television service.
Esther has been the face of the Accident Advice Helpline since 2003.
In 2006, Rantzen took part in the BBC Two programmes Would Like to Meet and Excuse my French, and was selected to present a new consumer affairs show with former Watchdog presenter Lynn Faulds Wood, under the title Old Dogs New Tricks.
Charity Work & Recognition
In addition to her television career, as a patron or vice-president of fifteen charities, she mainly concentrates on working for children or disabled people. Most of her voluntary effort is for ChildLine as a volunteer counsellor on the helpline, and as a fund-raiser and spokesperson for children’s rights. She is also Patron of the Red Balloon for bullied children, the Iain Rennie Hospice at Home, the Hillingdon Manor School for autistic children, the North London Hospice, and the Campaign for Courtesy.
For twenty years she chaired ChildLine’s Board of Trustees, and since ChildLine merged with the NSPCC, she has served as a Trustee of the NSPCC, as well as being President of ChildLine.
She has received a number of professional awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women in Film and Television organisation, the Royal Television Society’s Special Judges’ Award for Journalism, their Fellowship, and Membership of their Hall of Fame.
Rantzen appeared on the 2008 series of ITV show I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!. She appeared in Celebrity Cash in the Attic in 2010, raising £1,975 for ChildLine.
One of the most respected figures in broadcasting history, Esther Rantzen is in demand as an after dinner speaker and event host.