One of British television’s best-known faces, Esther Rantzen CBE, has produced, written and hosted a variety of shows since she first appeared on our screens in 1968.
After graduating from Oxford, she started as a sound effects assistant with BBC Radio. From there Esther moved to television as a researcher/ reporter for Braden’s Week before beginning a 21 year spell as a producer/presenter on That’s Life! which reached audiences of more than 20 million and became TV’s most successful consumer programme.
She has appeared on popular shows such as Who Do You Think You Are, Strictly Come Dancing, and I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!
Esther has also made numerous pioneering programmes on subjects such as childbirth, stillbirth, mental health, palliative care and child abuse, an issue she remains passionate about.
“I grew up in a big, extended family where children were looked after and always treated as very precious,” said Hertfordshire-born Esther. “The contrast between that childhood and the suffering I discovered some children had to endure was very painful and difficult to accept.”
In 1986 she famously launched ChildLine, a national helpline for children in distress or danger, which she chaired for 20 years and of which she still remains President today.
“We had opened a helpline at the BBC, after one edition of That’s Life! for children suffering abuse, and we got so many calls the lines were jammed. That made me realise that a dedicated helpline would reach children who could not be helped any other way, and that’s how ChildLine started,” Esther said.
In 2013, Silver Line was founded; A charity to help combat loneliness and isolation in the elderly, providing information, support, a someone to listen. In July 2018 they took our 2 millionth call.
The award of Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University is bestowed upon Esther for her contribution to the welfare of children throughout the UK and numerous groundbreaking documentaries on various important social issues.