Esther Rantzen

In this post, there are notes so that you can understand the BBC radio 4 Desert Island Discs interview with Esther Rantzen. Aggie and I are currently creating a podcast and it will be launched on 11th October!

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You can hear the Desert Island Discs radio programme here:

- television career that spanned 5 decades

- presenter of ‘That’s Life’ household name

- an eclectic mix of consumer new and investigative pieces alongside talking dogs and indecently shaped vegetables

- pulling in 20 million viewers

1.38 - shows no signs of slowing down

1.58 Your diary sounds formidably packed

2.01- indefatigable (describing Esther)

2.24 Mother always got a round of applause by sending me up rotten’ (she was extremely energetic)

2.37- Were you aware of being a trailblazer (produced as well as present own TV show)

2.50 generation   ‘very aware that if I didn’t do a job well I would make it much harder for the next generation of women’

3.13 ‘I was making things about post natal depression and things that affected people’s real lives

3.20  ‘I was trained by my late husband, Desmond Wilcox always to first hand experience

3.34 I was not getting experts to tell me …..I was actual speaking to the people who had had that experience. I was aware that I had to do it justice.

That would lead to policy change …the introduction of things that we take for granted   (3.46)…an increase in the number of organ donations   (3.48)

Children were able to give evidence via video link in court  (3.48)

I don’t like to contradict you but at our most it was 22.5 million viewers (4.05)

We were influential (4.15)  - because they had so many viewers

The other stroke of luck was…(4.20 we were transmitting on Sunday night (MP’s watching TV)

I have my indiscreet moments (4.45) – party – ‘I will be Edith Piath

‘He looked at me like a snake looks at a rabbit that’s begging to be eaten’

5.04   If ever a song sums up what it feels like to be a woman in love

5.20 She sang it from the souls of her feet

5.27   That little vulnerable beggar who stood in the gutter singing for money

5.34  the whole of France came out into the streets to mourn her.

6.57   I love to know how they put them together (Celebrity get me out of her)

7.21 Celebrity get me out of here’ cameramen belching when they were hidden in rocks…

7.47 I used to wink at passersby (as a baby)

8.31  A fragment of butter (the war time diet)

8.44 everybody is saying that this is the way we should all nourish ourselves (a different diet)

8.47 “What about your cheeky, extrovert streak? Did it extend to performing?”

8.54  ….at family dos (see above)

9.00 I relied on being entertaining

9.20   It brought down a floor in broadcasting house – people leapt under a table.

9.35  Lord Reith was not anti semitic…we’re Jewish as a family

9.45  He wasn’t the most practical person….

9.52 He would mend something….always find that he had a screw or a washer left over…’

10.05  Mother – ‘she was anarchic….she was mischievous

10.17   ‘dimples’

10.19 their aspirations for you weren’t typical of many parents of the time

10.30 it was all voluntary work (mother – what she did)

11.00 Nina Simone, I came to very late….

11.17 this song would immediately cheer me up   (Nina Simone)

12.17 she’s just staggering

12.35 she had hair in a bun, she had sticky out teeth

12.44   she had a hat with a veil

12.59   she liked people who were a little off piste

13.17 she would call all of us into her study and reduce us to tears.

13.24 the sooner we broke down in tears, the sooner we’d get out

13.26   I was a bit stubborn

13.30 I didn’t burst into tears soon enough

13.44 she taught me about propaganda

13.49 I owe so much to Dame

14.02  it remained buried for a long

14.16   one of those creepy smiles – distant relative

14.21 he sexually abused me

14.51 it really didn’t occur to me

15.14   My mum cared about the social circle we moved in….

15.51    barbed wire - Safari

15.51   A hyena broke in and staggered around the kitchen

16.07   I was lying trembling in my tent visualising what would happen if he mashed me.

17.30   How diligent a student were you?  (at Oxford)

17.47   I managed to drag in Oscar Wilde (in the play the next day)

18.15 I got into making sound effects

18.32   ‘she thought it would be flesh’

18.35 I had to fall over on a plank

18.42 I limped up to the office

18.54 a satirical show

19.02 the coolest cat in the building

19.35 the F word was first said on television

19.59 things have changed so much….have they changed for the better …..the jury is out

20.06 you were at the cutting edge

20.10 very male dominated

20.16 taken for granted that it was ok me being a researcher

you should have been promoted

20.41“I should really feel that you had that capacity’ – her boss told her when he didn’t give her

20.49 gender blind  - Desmond Wilcox

21.10 sounds effortless

22.35 you have to wear thermals

23.08   how did you cope?

23.16 my challenge was to tempt people into watching

23.26 we wanted them to be cross with themselves for not having watched it

24.41 I suppose if he or I had been tougher….

25.03 When his marriage ended and your relationship became public it was you that bore the brunt of some very negative critism

23.12 it did feel like having your guts pulled out of your stomach and examined

25.22 it was inevitable price of being well known

25.41 I didn’t have these horrible anonymous trolls persueing people

28.03   ‘your guilt (about working so hard – children)

28.10  ‘her pride. (daughter)

29.17 Do I think my children missed out?

29.53  sexual abuse – the great taboo at the time

30.33 bullying

31.05   the horrendous revelations

31.13 we are all culpible (jimmy Saville)

31.16   that enabled him to go undetected

33.42  did writing about it (Des’s death) help you to process it?

33.54 spontaneous, warm, generous, funny  (Des)

24.16   It’s a thing you don’t get over (death)

34.36  those are the things that are tough (sailing memories)

35.06 I downsized

35.09   I’m an agnostic

35.33 I was inundated with responses

35.34   there’s a stigma attached to lonliness

36.20   there’s every reason to try and combat lonliness

36.30 I had my second light bulb moment

39.08 it is blissful (grandchildren)

39.29 Do you have any regrets?

39.59   You just pick yourself up and keep going

40.23   who wants to follow in your footsteps

40.39   don’t get disheartened    - advice to women

40.59 Politics is so enticing at the moment

41.15 the demand outstrips what we can do

21.20 self –sustaining (wants Silverline to be …)

41.50 so much had happened in my life that I hadn’t anticipated

43.47   I’m going to cast you away

43.57   I’ve wrestled a bit trying to choose that

44.30   A luxury to soften the blow