I often remind our student candidates that it is normal to be nervous before an interview. At their age, I was so very fortunate to shadow Esther Rantzen from her green room to live broadcast on BBC That’s Life and Hearts of Gold. The minute before she waited to walk on to receive rapturous live audience applause, you could see stage fright kick in and the shear look of terror on her face. Of course, it was all gone as quick as it arrived once the programme titles started rolling. It is good that in her golden years, she is still inspiring the next generation with her wisdom.
Her sixth book Over entitled “Older & Bolder” is crammed with advice, gleaned from her own experience, what she has learned as a journalist, author and broadcaster, and from what she has been told on the rare occasions when she has actually listened to somebody else who turned out to be worth hearing.
This energising book charts her time travels through her most significant memories, from meeting Princess Diana to creating a national outrage with a mischievous short film about a driving dog and reflects with candour and humour on the life lessons she has learned, revealing the hints, hacks and personal philosophies that have been her secrets to surviving almost everything.
We may not all achieve what Dame Esther has, but here we can soak up her wisdom, laughter and learn from her, embracing the passing years and march boldly on.
Over a career spanning five decades Dame Esther Rantzen has appeared in more than 2,000 television broadcasts, in her regular contributions to political and news programmes, including The One Show, she especially advocates protecting vulnerable people and growing old ungracefully. She is also a reality TV favourite with appearances on Strictly Come Dancing, First Dates, and I’m a Celebrity. As a journalist, she writes for the Daily mail, the Guardian, the Telegraph and The Times.
She was awarded a DBE in 2015 for her services to children and older people, through her pioneering work as founder of Childline and The Silver Line.
I am still in touch with Dame Esther today. Sadly, she was recently diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Her quote “Remember that history is written by the survivors, be bolder as you grow older and make sure you float above any challenges that threaten to overwhelm you,” will resonate with all those who have had the privilege of meeting or working with her and the audiences of tens of millions who avidly placed their trust in her during a career spanning five decades.
Her generosity of spirit to others less fortunate will always live on.
Older and Bolder: My A-Z of Surviving Almost Everything is out now from Penguin Books