Dame Esther Rantzen says she was ‘attacked for everything’ as a TV presenter

Dame Esther Rantzen has said she was “attacked for everything” when she presented on television.

Best known for hosting That’s Life!, the 83-year-old journalist and broadcaster, said the criticism she received working in TV felt like “having one’s guts torn out”.

Appearing on the Rosebud podcast, Dame Esther was asked by host and former politician Gyles Brandreth if the criticism she received as a presenter bothered her.

She said: “It was astonishing.”

Frost Summer Party Fundraiser 2016 – London
Dame Esther Rantzen appears on the Rosebud with Gyles Brandreth podcast (Ian West/PA)

“I was attacked for everything. What I looked like, what I sounded like, what I said,” she added.

“And it really felt like… having one’s guts torn out. It really hurt.

“And then I thought, well, you know, these things happen.”

The veteran broadcaster also said she felt she did not have the right appearance for television.

“I wasn’t the right look. I wasn’t pretty enough,” she said.

“I was a bit strange. I had all these teeth, so I never thought I had a role on television.”

Dame Esther presented That’s Life! from 1973 to 1994 – a programme featuring a mix of investigations, topical issues and entertainment.

The veteran broadcaster, who has stage four lung cancer, recently urged MPs to hold a debate in Parliament for a free vote on assisted dying.

The Childline founder revealed in December that she had joined the Dignitas assisted dying clinic in Switzerland as she contemplates the option if her cancer does not improve.

Currently, assisted suicide is illegal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

Dame Esther set up children’s charity Childline in 1986 and it has since become part of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).