Esther Rantzen – Bio, Net Worth, Age, Husband, Family, Facts, Awards

Esther Rantzen is an English journalist and television presenter. She is best known as the main presenter of “That’s Life!“, a magazine-style television series, which ran on BBC1 from 26 May 1973 till 19 June 1994. In 2015, she was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to children and older people through ChildLine and The Silver Line. Esther married her husband, Desmond Wilcox in 1977 after his divorce from Patsy. 

After Esther earned her degree from Somerville College, Oxford, she began her career at BBC Radio. She was then moved to BBC Television. She works with various charitable causes and founded the charities ChildLine, promoting child protection, which she set up in 1986, and The Silver Line, designed to combat loneliness in older people’s lives, which she set up in November 2012.

Where is Esther Rantzen from?

Esther Rantzen was born on June 22, 1940 to her parents, Katherine Flora Rantzen (née Leverson, 1911–2005) and Henry Barnato Rantzen (1902–1992). Esther is from Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England. Esther Louise Rantzen is her birth name. Her family is Jewish. She grew up with her one younger sister, Priscilla N. Taylor. In the late 1850s, her great-great-grandfather emigrated to Britain and settled, as a cap-maker, in Spitalfields. Her great-grandfather moved to a more comfortable neighborhood with the help of his brother-in-law, Barney Barnato (born Barnett Isaacs), who had become extremely wealthy as a diamond merchant in South Africa. Her father’s middle name was Barnato. On her wealthy maternal side, her great-grandfather, Montague Leverson, was one of the founders of the West London Synagogue. Montague Leverson was the maternal grandfather of British composer Gerald Finzi. She is British talking about her nationality while she belongs to a mixed ethnical race. She cut her 82nd birthday cake on 22nd June 2023. 

About her education, she attended Buckley Country Day School in New York, leaving in 1950. She then went to North London Collegiate School, an all-girls independent school in Edgware, North London. Further, she studied English at Somerville College, Oxford. At Oxford, she performed with the Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS), became Secretary of the Experimental Theatre Club (ETC), and joined the Oxford Theatre Group, performing in Oxford and Edinburgh. 

How was the career of Esther Rantzen?


  • Esther was initially recruited by BBC Radio as a trainee studio manager. She started her TV career as a clerk in the program planning department. She got her very first production job working as a researcher on the BBC1 late-night satire program BBC-3 (1965-1966)
  • After working on a number of programs, she moved to the award-winning BBC2 documentary series “Man Alive” in the mid-1960s. 
  • In 1972, to present a similar TV show there; the following year, the BBC replaced Braden’s Week with “That’s Life! with Rantzen as the main presenter. “That’s Life!” ran on BBC1 for 21 years from 1973 to 1994, becoming one of the most popular shows on British television. 
  • In 1976, he devised the documentary series “The Big Time,” which launched Sheena Easton’s singing career.


  • Rantzen had suggested the Childwatch program to BBC1 Controller Michael Grade after the death of a toddler who had starved to death, locked in a bedroom. 
  • The Childwatch program was screened on 30 October 1986 and featured the free phone number 0800 1111. On that first night in October 1986, fifty thousand attempted calls were made to the helpline.  

The Silver Line

  • Esther also set up The Silver Line, a charity to benefit elderly people in 2013. The Silver Line offers a telephone befriending service, in which trained volunteers conducting remote work make regular weekly calls to older people. 
  • It also offers Silver Letters and conference calls, discussion groups called Silver Circles.

Later Career

  • Rantzen created a television series called “Hearts of Gold” in 1988. In addition, she presented her own talk show, “Esther”, on BBC Two from 1994 to 2002.
  • Moreover, she took part in the BBC Two programs “Would Like to Meet” and “Excuse My French” in 2006. She was selected to present new consumer affairs show with former Watchdog presenter Lynn Faulds Wood, under the title “Old Dogs New Tricks.”
  • She made a documentary for ITV called “Winton’s Children”. After the death of Rantzen’s husband, filmmaker Desmond Wilcox, she made a landmark program on palliative care, “How to Have a Good Death”, for BBC Two. She created the ‘Children of Courage’ segment for the BBC’s Children in Need program. 
  • She even appeared in the 2008 series of ITV show “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!”, and was the fifth celebrity to leave the camp. In the year 2016, she was in the first episode of “Celebrity First Dates.” She presented a new Channel 5 consumer advice show called “Esther Rantzen’s House Trap” in 2018. 
  • In addition to this, Esther has also appeared in Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes (4 May 2002), Celebrity Cash in the Attic, Pointless Celebrities (28 April 2012), Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (22 February 2013), Pointless: Children in Need Special (15 November 2013), Celebrity Antiques Road Trip (17 September 2014), The Chase: Celebrity Special (27 September 2014), Sunday Brunch (15 March 2015) and more. 

Political Career

  • Rantzen announced her intention to stand as an independent candidate for Parliament on 26th May 2009. She stood for election in Luton South against eleven other candidates, of whom four were independent.  At the May 2010 election, Rantzen came fourth with 4.4% of the vote, behind the three main parties.  

Who is Esther Rantzen’s husband?

Esther Rantzen is a married woman. She tied the knot to her husband, Desmond Wilcox. Desmond was a British television producer, documentary filmmaker, journalist, and television executive. Esther and Desmond married in December 1977. The two remained together until the death of Desmon in 2000 due to a heart attack. 

Desmond Wilcox and Rantzen are blessed with three children – Miriam (formerly known as Emily, b. 1978), Rebecca (b. 1980), and Joshua (b. 1981). The family is leading a happy life at the moment. 

Esther Rantzen with her husband, Desmond and their kids

Previously, Esther had an affair with the Scottish politician Nicholas Fairbairn in 1966 at age 62. She wrote: “He wore idiosyncratic suits and waistcoats, and I fell in love with him. … I didn’t realise he was married until far, far too late.” 

Recently, Rantzen has campaigned on behalf of hospice care and better care for the elderly and terminally ill. She has also campaigned to raise awareness of ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), as her eldest daughter Emily has suffered from the condition. Besides her work in TV, Ester as a patron or vice-president of 55 charities, mainly concentrates on working for children, vulnerable older people, and disabled people. In 2013, she also became the Vice-President of Revitalise, a charity providing those with disabilities, and their carers, with short breaks and holidays. She is also patron of Erosh, a national charity that promotes good quality sheltered and retirement housing and provides resources for its members who support older people. 

How much is Esther Rantzen’s net worth?

Esther Rantzen is a journalist and television presenter who is well-remembered for presenting the BBC television series That’s Life! for 21 years, from 1973 until 1994. Her main source of wealth comes from the entertainment industry. 

Esther has an estimated net worth of $8 million at the time of writing. She is leading a lavish lifestyle right now and she does have a collection of branded cars and a big bungalow. She has been the face of the Accident Advice Helpline since 2003. 

What is Esther Rantzen’s height?

Esther Rantzen is a beautiful TV presenter whose attractive personality has magnetized a lot of viewers toward her. Her hair color is brownish-black while her eye color is light brown. She has a slim body type and she has leadership qualities. 

Rantzen stands at the tall height of 5 feet 7 inches. On 29 January 2023, Rantzen announced that she had been diagnosed with lung cancer. In a statement, Rantzen said, “In the last few weeks I have discovered that I am suffering from lung cancer which has now spread. At the moment I am undergoing various tests, to assess the best treatment […] I have decided not to keep this secret any more because I find it difficult to skulk around various hospitals wearing an unconvincing disguise, and because I would rather you heard the facts from me. […] As I am sure you will understand, while I am awaiting the results of the tests, I am unable to answer questions. Thanks to the extraordinary skills of the medical profession there are wonderful new treatments, so I am remaining optimistic.”

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