Dame Esther Louise Rantzen DBE (born 22 June 1940) is an English journalist and television presenter, who presented the BBC television series That's Life! for 21 years, from 1973 until 1994. 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, which she set up in 2012.
Esther Rantzen at Nightingale House in January 2011
Esther Louise Rantzen
22 June 1940
|Occupation||Journalist, television presenter|
|Years active||1968 - present|
(m. 1977; died 2000)
Rantzen was born in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, England, to Katherine Flora Rantzen (née Leverson, 1911–2005) and Henry Barnato Rantzen (1902–1992). She has one younger sister, Priscilla N. Taylor. She attended Buckley Country Day School in New York leaving in 1950. She was educated at North London Collegiate School, an all-girls independent school in London. She studied English at Somerville College, Oxford, where one of her tutors was Mary Lascelles. 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.
After training in secretarial skills, Rantzen was recruited by BBC Radio as a trainee studio manager. She 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). 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, at the time a researcher for Braden's Week (hosted by Bernard Braden), became a presenter because the producer of the programme decided to put the researchers onscreen. Braden decided to return to his native Canada 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, reaching audiences of more than 18 million. During that time, it expanded the traditional role of the consumer programme from simply exposing faulty washing machines and dodgy salesmen, to investigating life-and-death issues, such as a campaign for more organ donors, which featured Ben Hardwick, a two-year-old dying of liver disease whose only hope was a transplant, and the investigation of a boarding school, the headmaster of which was a paedophile who employed several paedophile teachers.
To lighten some of these very serious themes and issues, That's Life! also had some humorous spots, such as readings of amusing misprints sent in by viewers; it also featured comic songs that often matched the theme of each show, specially written and performed by artists such as Lynsey De Paul, Victoria Wood, Richard Stilgoe and Jake Thackray.
That's Life! was influential in many different ways, not least in the introduction of the videolink for child witnesses in court procedures, and it was responsible for the launch of ChildLine in 1986, the first national helpline for children in danger or distress. Rantzen had suggested the Childwatch programme to BBC One Controller Michael Grade after the death of a toddler who had starved to death, locked in a bedroom. The aim of the programme was to find better ways of detecting children at risk of abuse; to that end, viewers of That's Life! who had themselves experienced cruelty as children were asked to take part in a survey detailing the circumstances of their abuse.
Rantzen suggested that after that edition of That's Life!, the BBC should open a helpline for children, in case any young viewers suffering current abuse wished to ring in to ask for help. The helpline was open for 48 hours, during which it was swamped with calls, mainly from children suffering sexual abuse they had never been able to disclose to anyone else. This gave Rantzen the idea for a specific helpline for children in distress or danger, to be open 24/7 throughout the year, the first of its kind in the world. The Childwatch team consulted child care professionals, who agreed that children would use such a helpline, but said it would be impossible to create. Nevertheless, the team obtained funding from the Department of Health and the Variety Club of Great Britain, both of which donated £25,000. Ian Skipper OBE, a noted philanthropist who had already helped Rantzen set up a special fund in memory of Ben Hardwick, agreed to underwrite the helpline's running costs for the first year. Rantzen and the team went to BT to ask for premises for the charity and for a simple freephone number, both of which were provided.
The Childwatch programme screened on 30 October 1986 and, based on the results of the survey, launched ChildLine with a specially written jingle (by B. A. Robertson) which featured the free phone number 0800 1111. On that first night in October 1986, fifty thousand attempted calls were made to the helpline. ChildLine now has twelve bases around the UK, including two in Northern Ireland, two in Scotland and two in Wales. The NSPCC merged with ChildLine in 2006, enabling it to expand in an effort to meet demand. The helpline has now been copied in 150 countries around the world.
In 2013, Rantzen set up the charity The Silver Line for elderly people, to help combat isolation and loneliness in older people, to provide information and advice and to offer a helpline which is free, confidential and open 24/7. In addition, The Silver Line offers a telephone befriending service, in which trained Silver Line Friends who are volunteers working from home make regular weekly calls to matched older people. It also offers Silver Letters and conference calls, discussion groups they call Silver Circles.
In 1988, Rantzen created a television series called Hearts of Gold, celebrating people who had performed unsung acts of outstanding kindness or courage. Its theme tune was written by her close friend Lynsey De Paul, and was released as a single.
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. She made a documentary for ITV called Winton's Children about Sir Nicholas Winton, who (as was first revealed on That's Life!) had rescued a generation of Czech children from the holocaust and was later nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. After the death of Rantzen's husband, film-maker Desmond Wilcox, she made a landmark programme on palliative care, How to Have a Good Death, for BBC Two. Recently she 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. She created the 'Children of Courage' segment for the BBC's Children in Need programme.
Rantzen was for a time a director of That's Media, which provides local TV programmes. In 2016, she was made an Honorary Fellow of Somerville College, Oxford.
In addition to her television career, as a patron or vice-president of 55 charities, she mainly concentrates on working for children, vulnerable older people and disabled people. Much of her voluntary effort is for ChildLine as a volunteer counsellor on the helpline, and as a fund-raiser and spokesperson for children, and latterly working to set up the new helpline for isolated and vulnerable older people. ChildLine currently has 12 centres around the UK, 1,500 volunteer counsellors and answers around a million calls and on-line contacts from children each year. Rantzen chaired ChildLine's Board of Trustees for twenty years, and since ChildLine merged with the NSPCC in 2006, she has served as a Trustee of the NSPCC, as well as being President of ChildLine. In 2013, she also became the Vice-President of Revitalise, a charity providing those with disabilities, and their carers, with short breaks and holidays. Rantzen is also patron of erosh, a national charity which promotes good quality sheltered and retirement housing and provides resources for its members who support older people.
On 26 May 2009, on Stephen Rhodes's BBC Three Counties Breakfast Show, Rantzen announced her intention to stand as an independent candidate for Parliament, if the incumbent Labour MP Margaret Moran stood for Luton South again. This statement was made against the backdrop of the Parliamentary expenses scandal and Moran's expense claims for £23,000 to eliminate dry rot in her second home in Southampton. Two days later, Moran announced she would not stand at the next general election, but Rantzen said she was still considering standing herself and confirmed her candidacy on 28 July 2009. Rantzen 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. In accordance with UK parliamentary electoral process, Rantzen lost her deposit, as only candidates receiving over 5% of the total votes cast have their deposit returned. Labour Party candidate Gavin Shuker won the seat with 34.9% of the vote, the Conservatives got 29.4% and the Liberal Democrats 22.7%.
In August 2014, Rantzen was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian expressing their hope that Scotland would vote against independence from the United Kingdom in the referendum on that issue.
In Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, broadcast on 3 October 2012, Rantzen, after seeing the interviews the programme contains, stated that the jury was no longer out concerning rumours of the late BBC broadcaster Jimmy Savile's abuse of children.
Abuse campaigner Shy Keenan in The Sun newspaper, subsequently claimed that, using a different name, she had told Rantzen 18 years earlier of allegations that she had heard about Savile. Rantzen has denied hearing specific allegations and said she had no recollection of a conversation with Keenan.
Writing for The Daily Telegraph before the broadcast, Katy Brand also criticised Rantzen for failing to act on rumours she had heard about Savile. Pete Saunders, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, at Keenan's request, temporarily asked for all references to Rantzen to be removed from the charity's website, but subsequently defended Rantzen and said she would continue as a patron.
In 1968, Rantzen started an affair with Desmond Wilcox, who was the head of her department. He was married at the time to her friend Patsy who also worked at the BBC. After several years they decided to live together, and informed BBC management of their relationship. Management's solution was to move the entire production team of That's Life! out of Wilcox's department. The new arrangement meant that Rantzen and Patsy were now working in the same department, causing both women concern. Patsy Wilcox had always refused to divorce her husband, but agreed when Rantzen became pregnant. After Rantzen and Wilcox married in December 1977; BBC management moved her back into General Features department run by him.
By that time, That's Life! was achieving huge audiences ratings, and reaching the number one position, gaining more viewers than Coronation Street. This created tension among colleagues in General Features, who ascribed the success of the programme to Wilcox's relationship with Rantzen. They complained to management, quoting the BBC's regulation that husbands and wives should not work in the same department.
As a result, Desmond Wilcox resigned, and set up his own independent production company, making award-winning documentaries such as The Visit, which included a series of programmes about The Boy David. For these, as well as previous films, he received many international awards, including the Grierson Life-Time Achievement Award in 2001. Wilcox and Rantzen had three children – Miriam (formerly known as Emily, b. 1978), Rebecca (b. 1980), and Joshua (b. 1981).
In 2001, Patsy's daughter Cassandra Wilcox gave an interview in response to comments Rantzen had made about Patsy in her autobiography, alleging amongst other things that Rantzen had long harboured animosity towards Patsy.
Rantzen was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1991 New Year Honours for services to broadcasting, before being promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2006 Birthday Honours for services to children and young people, and then Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to children and older people through ChildLine and The Silver Line.
Rantzen has also 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. She was the first woman to receive a Dimbleby Award from BAFTA for factual presentation. She received the Snowdon Award for services to disabled people.
Rantzen was the subject of an episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on 3 September 2008. Her paternal line was traced back, as far as the 1760s, to an established Jewish neighbourhood in Warsaw. Tracing Rantzen's forebears was greatly helped by the rarity of the surname "Rantzen" (even in Warsaw) and the survival of records in Warsaw. In the late 1850s, her great-great-grandfather emigrated to Britain and settled, as a cap-maker, in Spitalfields, a slum district of London's East End. Rantzen's great-grandfather moved to a more comfortable neighbourhood 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, Rantzen's great-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. Rantzen is also related to Ada Leverson, a British writer and friend of Oscar Wilde, who was portrayed by Zoë Wanamaker in the 1997 film Wilde. She is first cousin once removed of the novelist and translator, Michael Meyer.
Adrian Mills (born 16 July 1956) is a British television presenter and actor. He appeared on That's Life! with Esther Rantzen for seven years until its demise in 1994.
Since then, he has presented talk show Central Weekend Live, reported for BBC viewer feedback programme Bite Back, appeared as a location reporter on the TV series Surprise, Surprise, and in later years was a host on Getaways, TV Travel Shop. Sky Travel, Cruise First, and the LBC radio travel clinic. All this adds to his interest in travel writing and photography. For two years, he co/presented the number one programme The AM Show and is a regular contributor to LBC and Talk Radio
Adrian attended The National Youth Theatre for four years and graduated from The Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama in 1977.
In 1982, he appeared as the villain Aris in the Doctor Who series Kinda. He has appeared on numerous TV programmes such as Minder, Brookside, Play for Today, Bad Penny, Waiting for God, Fairly secret army, and took the lead, in the film 'The Man Who Cries for Others', due to be released in late 2017.
Adrian Mills is the co-owner of Thai Tho, a chain of Thai restaurants located in London; including a site in Ealing, which was damaged in the riots of 2011. He is a patron of The Holly Lodge Centre in Richmond Park and Chairman of The Wimbledon Village Business AssociationBen Hardwick
Benjamin Hardwick (6 December 1981 – 23 March 1985) was Britain's youngest liver transplant patient. He became a celebrity through appearing on the BBC television programme That's Life! after his parents appealed for more awareness of organ donation when their son, who suffered from biliary atresia, urgently needed a transplant. Ben became the first child in the UK to have a liver transplant. Tragically, that transplant failed and he died of complications following a second transplant 15 months later, a few months after his third birthday. However, in the course of the appeal and following his death, tens of thousands of pounds were raised by the public in Ben’s name to support children like him with serious liver disease.In his memory, his family set up the Ben Hardwick Memorial Fund, which aimed to offer financial support to the families of children who suffer from primary liver disease. British celebrity Esther Rantzen, who hosted That's Life! and co-wrote a book based on Ben's story, was a trustee on the fund's board. The Ben Hardwick Fund took over the work of the Ben Hardwick Memorial Fund in 1997. Esther Rantzen is patron of the present fund, which helps children suffering from primary liver disease with costs associated with their illness.In 1985 Marti Webb released as a tribute a cover version of the Michael Jackson song "Ben", which reached number 5 in the UK charts, the royalties being donated to the Memorial Fund.Billy Marsh
William Rawlinson "Billy" Marsh (1917 – 19 December 1995) was a British theatrical agent. Widely known as the “doyen of theatrical agents”, he was the founder and namesake of Billy Marsh Associates, a renowned entertainment agency, in recent times representing the likes of Jon Culshaw, Esther Rantzen and Fiona Phillips. He is the only theatrical agent ever to be subject of the BBC biographical documentary series This Is Your Life.Centre for Social Justice Awards
The CSJ Awards are an annual event organised by the Centre for Social Justice, a centre right British political thinktank, where grants are awarded to organisations working in the field of poverty relief. In 2009, a Channel 4 documentary series was made by filmmaker and TV presenter Sadie Kaye about the award nominees which also featured interviews with the Rt. Hon. Iain Duncan Smith and awards host Esther Rantzen.Community Network Projects
Community Network is a registered charity in the United Kingdom, formed initially in Northern Ireland in August 1990 as a six-month project to bring people together across the sectarian divide using telecommunications. It went on to become a UK-wide charity using telecommunications for social benefit.
The charity's main focus is addressing loneliness for older people and its Chief Executive Angela Harris has spoken out about this increasing issue in society. Community Network is also included as a resource to support loneliness in older people on the National_Health_Service website NHS Choices.Community Network has been working since October 2013 with The Silver Line, a help line for older people established by Esther Rantzen CBE, by providing group calls called "Silver Circles".A number of other long-term projects in farming, fishing and regional communities are also supported by the charity.
Community Network operated its own teleconferencing service for 23 years until July 2013 when this operation was deemed non-core to the charity objectives and was transferred to The Phone Co-op.The charity's day-to-day running costs continue to be partly funded by the income from this teleconferencing service which is also provided for other charities and not-for-profit organisations e.g. MencapEsther (TV series)
Esther is a British talk show presented by Esther Rantzen. It was aired on BBC Two between 1995 and 2002 and over 600 episodes were made.Hearts of Gold
Hearts of Gold was a BBC television programme devised and presented by Esther Rantzen, with Michael Groth and Carol Smillie as co-presenters. Running for six years in the 1980s and 1990s, the programme commended members of the public for their good deeds.Rantzen devised the show in 1988. The premise of the show was to commend those who had done good deeds to others. They would usually be tricked into appearing on the show using a practical joke, a device which some critics (such as The Independent's Geraldine Bedell) compared to Beadle's About. Journalist Bedell explains that participants "are inviegled into the studio under false pretences and presented with gold hearts on blue ribbons while they wonder where to put themselves. (There is also a sub-Beadle segment in which Esther and chums dress up as folk in distress and wait for passers-by to come to their aid)."
For some of its life, the show was filmed at The Fountain Studios in Wembley.I've Never Seen Star Wars (TV series)
I've Never Seen Star Wars is a comedy chat show broadcast on BBC Four (2009 episodes) and BBC Two (2011 episodes), first broadcast on 12 March 2009. Created and produced by Bill Dare and hosted by Marcus Brigstocke for the 2009 episodes and Jo Brand for the 2011 special episode, each episode features a celebrity guest trying out new experiences. Based on the original radio version broadcast on BBC Radio 4, the title comes from the fact that Dare has never seen the Star Wars films. An eight part series was recorded in March 2009, with guests including John Humphrys, Esther Rantzen, Rory McGrath and Hugh Dennis.A new host, Jo Brand, presented a December 2011 episode.Joanna Monro
Joanna Monro (born 1956) is a British actress and former television presenter who, in the 1980s, appeared on the BBC show That's Life! with Esther Rantzen.
In 1974 she appeared in the Doctor Who story Planet of the Spiders, followed by a lengthy spell as 'Anna Newcross' in the BBC soap opera Angels. For three years in the mid 1980s she was a regular in the BBC children's sketch show Fast Forward, and was a member of the BBC's Radio Drama Company.In the 1990s, she played the conniving Mrs Lyons in the musical Blood Brothers on Broadway and in the West End, and was on the 1995 London cast recording as well as The International Cast Album (with Petula Clark).
She starred as "Rosie" in Mamma Mia!. She was in the International Tour for 2 years then joined the London cast for a period of 5 years at The Prince of Wales Theatre then at the Novello Theatre. She appeared in character on 31 December 2008 in a West End special edition episode of The Weakest Link on BBC One. She was the 'strongest link', winning over £14,000 which she donated to breast cancer research, beating Summer Strallen.
In 2017 she played the part of "June" in Sandi Toksvig's play "Silver Lining" which toured the UK.Jobsworth
A jobsworth is a person who uses their job description in a deliberately uncooperative way, or who seemingly delights in acting in an obstructive or unhelpful manner. The term can also be applied to those who uphold petty rules even at the expense of humanity or common sense.
"Jobsworth" is a British colloquial word derived from the phrase "I can't do that, it's more than my job's worth", meaning taking the initiative and performing an action that is beyond what the person feels is in their job description. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "A person in authority (esp. a minor official) who insists on adhering to rules and regulations or bureaucratic procedures even at the expense of common sense." Jonathon Green similarly defines "jobsworth" as "a minor factotum whose only status comes from enforcing otherwise petty regulations".An example of the phrase which gave rise to the term occurs in the 1965 Beatles movie Help!, when Roy Kinnear's character, the assistant scientist Algernon, exclaims "Well it's more than my job's worth to stop him when he's like this, he's out to rule the world...if he can get a government grant."
Another early use was by UK folk-singer Jeremy Taylor, in a song he wrote in the late 1960s:
The term became widespread in vernacular English through its use in the popular 1970s BBC television programme That's Life! which featured Esther Rantzen covering various human interest and consumer topics. A "Jobsworth of the Week" commissionaire's hat was awarded each week to "a startling tale of going by the book".The term remains in use, particularly in the UK, to characterise inflexible employees, petty rule-following and excessive administration, and is generally used in a perjorative context.The slang expression "Little Hitler" is also used in Britain with a similar meaning.John Pitman (journalist)
John Pitman (18 November 1939 – 14 February 2018) was an English television producer, reporter and interviewer. He began his on-screen career as a researcher on Braden's Week but later became known for his reporting work on the BBC2 documentary series Man Alive.He was born in Whitecroft, in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire and attended Bexhill-on-Sea and then Cirencester Grammar Schools. He began his career in journalism with the Gloucestershire Echo and Brighton Argus newspapers before moving to the Daily Mail and then on to the BBC. His first on-screen role was as reporter on Braden's Week with Bernard Braden and Esther Rantzen.He was also known for reporting for the series The Big Time, an edition of which launched the career of the singer Sheena Easton and he presented a follow up programme Sheena Easton - the Making of a Star. The programmes helped to make her international career. Other editions included footballer Lol Cottrell, and "Beaminster and District Gardens and Allotments Society Goes to Chelsea". The series was produced by Esther Rantzen. In the late 1980s he devised and reported Just Another Day - a series of documentaries following a notional 'Day in the Life' of English places, institutions and professions. Another important series devised by Pitman was The Other Half, exploring the lives of less well-known partners of celebrities. The sensitive and sympathetic film "Angus and Tony", on Angus Wilson and Tony Garrett, directed by Jonathan Gili, broke new ground. As did his series Fame which he devised and reported and featured among others Barbara Windsor and Ronnie Knight, her then husband.
John Pitman was the reporter on the BBC1 documentary The Ritz, produced by Edward Mirzoieff, which won the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary of 1981. Later in the 1980s he turned director, contributing documentaries to the 40 Minutes series. Among the best-remembered are "Separate Tables", about retired elderly ladies in a hotel in Eastbourne, "Two sides of a Street", about gentrification in a West London suburb, and the life of Jessie Matthews.
After leaving the BBC, he became an independent producer and was appointed series producer of An Inspector Calls on Channel 4 for Twenty Twenty Television. He also contributed as reporter to the Holiday programme on BBC One.Password (UK game show)
Password was a British panel game show based on the US version of the same name. It was originally aired on ITV produced by ATV from 12 March to 10 September 1963 hosted by Shaw Taylor, then it aired on BBC2 from 24 March to 28 April 1973 hosted by Brian Redhead before moving to its flagship channel BBC1 from 7 January 1974 to 1976 first hosted by Eleanor Summerfield then by Esther Rantzen, it was then aired on Channel 4 produced by Thames in association with Talbot Television and Goodson-Todman Productions from 6 November 1982 to 14 May 1983 hosted by Tom O'Connor and then finally aired back on ITV produced by Ulster from 22 July 1987 to 5 August 1988 hosted Brian Munn and later by Gordon Burns.Rantzen v Mirror Group Newspapers (1986) Ltd and others
Esther Louise Rantzen v Mirror Group Newspapers (1986) Ltd., Brian Radford, Richard Stott and Mirror Group Newspapers plc.  EWCA Civ 16,  4 All ER 975, also shortened to Rantzen v Mirror Group Newspapers by legal analysts, is a 1993 English defamation court case. The case was brought by the television presenter Esther Rantzen against Mirror Group Newspapers, publisher of The People which had alleged that Rantzen had protected a child abuser after he had given information about child abuse in a school.
The jury in the case at the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales found for Rantzen and awarded her £250,000 in damages. The defendants appealed the award to the Court of Appeal of England and Wales where the award was reduced to £110,000 as the court ruled that the damages awarded by the jury had been disproportionate.Rebecca Wilcox
Rebecca Wilcox (born 10 January 1980) is an English television presenter, mainly for the BBC.Sarah Caplin
Sarah Caplin is a British producer and television executive, formerly at ITV, and before that Deputy Secretary of the BBC, who has helped create two national charities, one for children and one for older people. She was a founder of Childline, together with her cousin Esther Rantzen and also The Silver Line. She was educated at the University of York and has been married to TV presenter Nick Ross for more than twenty-five years.That's Life!
That's Life! was a magazine-style television series on BBC1 between 26 May 1973 and 19 June 1994, presented by Esther Rantzen throughout the entire run, with various changes of co-presenters. The show was notable for presenting hard-hitting investigations alongside satire and occasional light entertainment. The show was generally recorded about an hour prior to transmission, which was originally on Saturday nights and then on Sunday nights. In its latter days, in an attempt to win back falling ratings, it was moved back to Saturday nights.
In October 2018, it was announced that "a similar version" of the show would air on Channel 5, with Rantzen presenting alongside Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford.The Big Time (TV series)
The Big Time was a British documentary and reality television series made by the BBC, consisting of 15 original episodes which ran from 1976 to 1980. A revised, extended repeat of episode 12 was broadcast in 1981.Devised and produced by Esther Rantzen and narrated initially by Rantzen but later by John Pitman, Paul Heiney and Norma Shepherd, each programme followed a member of the public placed in the limelight as a result of their skill and documenting how they fared. Their progress was filmed and sundry professionals in their fields advised the amateur as they progressed.
Some of the exploits included an amateur musician conducting an orchestra at the Fairfield Hall; a housewife becoming a TV presenter; a cookery competition winner becoming head chef for the day at The Dorchester hotel and preparing a banquet lunch for former Prime Minister Edward Heath; an amateur wrestler taking on professional John Naylor on a bill at the Albert Hall on 26 March 1980 (the amateur was given the stage name 'Rip Rawlinson'); a model entering the Miss United Kingdom beauty contest; an amateur footballer (Lol Cottrell) being trained by Liverpool player Tommy Smith to take part in the latter's testimonial game; a young gymnast who became a circus trapeze artist; an amateur singer getting the chance to record a single. The latter 'discovered' the singer Sheena Easton and the edition featuring the amateur chef is credited as terminating the television career of the TV chef Fanny Cradock, who criticised the amateur's choice of menu.When the series ended, the BBC commissioned In at the Deep End, which followed the same format only using two presenters, Chris Serle and erstwhile The Big Time reporter Paul Heiney (former reporters on Rantzen's That's Life!), as they undertook various tasks as complete beginners in professional roles.
Further versions of the format followed, when Hale and Pace (comedians Gareth Hale and Norman Pace) presented a short-lived series Jobs For The Boys on BBC TV in 1997, where they undertook professional tasks as complete amateurs. The four episodes featured the pair attempting to become professional polo players, dress designers, producers of a TV commercial and an effort to write Britain's 1998 Eurovision Song Contest entry. This format followed 1995's Jobs For The Girls, when Birds of a Feather stars Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson undertook four similar tasks.The Silver Line
The Silver Line is the only free confidential telephone helpline offering information, friendship and advice to older people in the United Kingdom that's available 24 hours a day.Would Like to Meet
Would Like To Meet is a British reality television dating series, first broadcast on BBC 2 in 2001. Presented by Lowri Turner, it featured relationship expert Tracey Cox, confidence coach Steven Anderson (later replaced by Jeremy Milnes) celebrity stylist Jay Hunt and Debenhams fashion director Spencer Hawken, who each used their expertise to help a singleton find a date. The show ran for three series until 2003. This was followed by a one-off celebrity special in 2004 where the experts helped TV presenter Esther Rantzen.
The series led to numerous success stories, one of whom was Jon Massey, the subject of programme two of series two. As a direct result of his being featured in the programme, he was contacted after transmission by a woman who became his future wife.
Having changed his name in the meantime to Jon McKnight, he was married at The Ritz in London on 19 December 2004. Jeremy Milnes, who had acted as his confidence coach during the filming of the programme, and Alannah Richardson, the series producer, were guests of honour at the wedding in the hotel's Marie Antoinette Suite.