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Dame Esther Rantzen, 83, says older women are ‘invisible’ on TV but only have themselves to blame for ‘discriminating against wrinkles: ‘Just look at all the Botox and fillers people on screen have!’


Dame Esther Rantzen admitted she believes older women are ‘invisible’ on television and only have themselves to blame for ‘discriminating against wrinkles’.

The 83-year-old, who presented the BBC television series That’s Life! for 21 years, claimed ‘Botox and filler’ are to blame for ‘discriminating against wrinkles’. 

As one of the most prominent women on television between 1970 and 1995, Dame Esther has long been a campaigner for women on television.

Speaking to Radio Times on Tuesday, she said she doesn’t think she would have been as successful if she started a few generations later because she isn’t ‘pretty enough’.

She said: ‘Even today, older women are still invisible on television,’ she said.

Dame Esther Rantzen admitted that she believes older women are 'invisible' on television and only have themselves to blame

Dame Esther Rantzen admitted that she believes older women are ‘invisible’ on television and only have themselves to blame

The 83-year-old, who presented the BBC television series That's Life! for 21 years, claimed 'Botox and filler' are to blame for 'discriminating against wrinkles' (pictured 1981)

The 83-year-old, who presented the BBC television series That’s Life! for 21 years, claimed ‘Botox and filler’ are to blame for ‘discriminating against wrinkles’ (pictured 1981)

‘And it’s not just men who dump them.

‘Women themselves are just as much to blame for discriminating against wrinkles.

‘Just look at all the Botox and fillers women on screen have to invest in.

‘If she’s over 60 and presents a show, which is rare enough, what woman on TV these days is allowed to look her age? Only Professor Dame Mary Beard?’

The veteran presenter said she doesn’t think she would have been as successful as she has been if she had started her career any later.

‘I’ve said that if I had embarked on my career a few generations later, I might not have been successful because I wasn’t nearly pretty enough,’ she said.

‘Today, the expectation to look a certain way -tall, skinny, streaky blonde – is improving. 

‘The fact that Alison Hammond is flavour of the month proves that talent and personality can prevail. 

As one of the most prominent women on television between 1970 and 1995, Dame Esther has long been a campaigner for women on television

As one of the most prominent women on television between 1970 and 1995, Dame Esther has long been a campaigner for women on television 

Speaking to Radio Times on Tuesday, she said she doesn't think she would have been as successful if she started a few generations later because she isn't 'pretty enough'

Speaking to Radio Times on Tuesday, she said she doesn’t think she would have been as successful if she started a few generations later because she isn’t ‘pretty enough’ 

‘And Claudia Winkleman’s fringe does its bit for emancipation, too.’

It comes after she revealed her dream final supper after admitting she is considering assisted suicide.

The Childline founder was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year, and has since revealed she has joined the assisted-dying clinic Dignitas in Switzerland. 

She has now told how she would love to enjoy some caviar and drink champagne as a final meal.

Dame Esther added that despite it making her feel sick in the past as she is allergic to champagne, she would love to consume both as there would be no worry over the consequences. 

She told LBC Radio on Monday: ‘I’d like to fly off to Zurich with my nearest and dearest. Have a fantastic dinner the night before. 

‘I’d love caviar, if possible, and the fact that it doesn’t always agree with me doesn’t matter, does it? 

‘I could even have champagne, which I’m deeply allergic to. Then the next day, go to this rather unappealing place where they do it.’ 

Sharing more details of her final plans, she continued: ‘Listen to a favourite piece of music, say goodbye to everybody. Tell them to cheer up. 

‘I’m meeting my late husband, my departed dog and my mother at the pearly gates. Hold up my hand for an injection or open my mouth for a rather disgusting medication.’

‘I’ve got an amazing family and a group of friends and colleagues. So I’d like to say goodbye fairly gracefully, as much as I can muster, and then go, that’s what I’d like.’

It comes after she revealed her dream final supper after admitting she is considering assisted suicide

It comes after she revealed her dream final supper after admitting she is considering assisted suicide 

The Childline founder was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year, and has since revealed she has joined the assisted-dying clinic Dignitas in Switzerland

The Childline founder was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year, and has since revealed she has joined the assisted-dying clinic Dignitas in Switzerland

It comes after last week Dame Esther‘s daughter Rebecca broke down in tears during an emotional appearance on Loose Women while discussing her mother’s cancer diagnosis.

Rebecca broke down as she watched an emotional video montage of Esther, admitting her diagnosis is the news ‘no one wants to hear.’

She added that she was ‘a little surprised’ by Esther’s decision to join Dignitas, but she has ‘chosen how she wants to live.’ 

Rebecca said: ‘It’s the news that no one ever wants to hear. Mum doesn’t usually break her promises and she promised to live forever so she’s quite embarrassed that she’s had to go back on that.’

‘But how does anyone ever feel when a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness? It’s confusing, it’s bamboozling. 

‘They use all these words, you just want them to tell you what’s going to happen and when, really directly and really succinctly and nobody does, because they pad around it carefully and you just want them to say, ”This is what you have and this is how long it’ll take”.’

‘You just want someone to say this is what you have and this is how long it will take but they can’t.’

Discussing Esther’s decision to join Dignitas, Rebecca told the panel: ‘Probably the same time as you! It was a little surprising. 

‘She likes surprising us and keeping us on our toes. I mean I’ve always known about how she feels about death and dying, she’s done a lot of work around it. 

‘She’s done documentaries, she’s done newspaper articles and books so we’ve always known that the last thing she wants is for our memories of her to be replaced with a traumatic death. 

‘A traumatic death involves a patient in pain, so if she’s in pain, why would she want to live any longer? If she’s not getting anything from life and obviously you can live with a certain amount of pain and some people are brilliantly stoical.’

Last week Dame Esther 's daughter Rebecca broke down in tears during an emotional appearance on Loose Women while discussing her mother's cancer diagnosis

Last week Dame Esther ‘s daughter Rebecca broke down in tears during an emotional appearance on Loose Women while discussing her mother’s cancer diagnosis 

‘But she’s always said, ”I love my life the way I am”. ”I love who I am”… she doesn’t say that, she’s very modest but she is who she is. She is this super-dooper brain.

‘I know I’m biased but she’s so bright and so brilliant that the last thing she’d want is to become something else in her last moments.’

Sharing an update on how Dame Esther is doing, Rebecca explained: ‘Fortunately, she is doing ok. We don’t know what is going to happen next, we only know what happened in the last scan and the last scan is always a bit out of date and then you go and meet the oncologist and he asks mum, ”How are you doing?” and she says, ”I don’t know, that’s why I’m here”.’

Describing her mum, Rebecca said: ‘My brother said, living with mum is like living next to a volcano. 

‘You just never know when it’s going to explode so you know, just put on your hat for lava.’

Dame Esther also recorded a exclusive for Loose Women, which was played during Rebecca’s interview, in which she said: ‘I don’t know if I’ll live long enough to see this debated in parliament but if you do agree with me, please, please make your views known to your MP and for those that disagree – maybe on religious principles or maybe because they’re professionally absorbed in palliative care and believe that this goes against what they practice in medicine – can I just say, all we ask for is the choice. 

‘That’s all we’re asking for, we don’t want to impose our views on you but we do want the choice ourselves.’

Agreeing that her mother ‘wants to spark a debate’ on the topic, Rebecca said: ‘Yes, the fact that she isn’t allowed to choose how she dies, doesn’t make any sense to any of us. 

‘She’s chosen how she wants to live and she’s been a bit of a force of nature in that sense so it makes sense in a way that this is the debate that’s coming to the forefront of our family.

‘She’s watching now, which is making me really nervous because I feel like I’m putting words in her mouth and you should never do that with Mum!’

Is Assisted Suicide illegal in Britain? 

Under the Suicide Act 1961, anyone helping or encouraging someone to take their own life in England or Wales can be prosecuted and jailed for up to 14 years if found guilty of an offence.

Section two of the act states that a person commits an offence if they carry out an act capable of encouraging or assisting the suicide or attempted suicide of another person, and the act was intended to encourage or assist suicide or an attempt at suicide.

In 2015 MPs including former prime minister David Cameron rejected a Bill to legalize assisted dying.

Opposition to changing the law has come from faith groups, campaigners who say disabled people may feel pressured to end their lives and campaigners who fear assisted dying would become a business.

Discussing the laws around assisted dying in the United Kingdom, Rebecca commented: ‘This is the awful thing about outsourcing death to Switzerland, you have to go before you’re ready because you have to be signed off by two doctors so you’re not quite at the stage that you would choose and you have to go alone, because anyone that goes with you, comes back to prosecution. 

‘The worst time in your life, I’m experiencing the worst thing ever, which is the loss of my mum. I’m very lucky to have her, but then I’d have to go through a court case and prove that I didn’t murder her.’

Kaye also asked Rebecca if she can ‘understand the objections and concerns of those that do not agree’ to which Rebecca replied: ‘I absolutely understand that there are a few evil people who would take advantage of it, to do whatever it was they wanted to, to get hold of someone else’s assets and to end somebody’s life before they have chosen to. 

‘It’s not reinventing the wheel, it works and exists in other countries. It works in Canada, so we could take those rulings and adapt them for this country.’ 

Rebecca added: ‘Yes, absolutely protect the vulnerable but someone like mum, who has made her opinions very clear – what’s to debate?’

In a final message from mother to daughter, Dame Esther Rantzen was heard telling Rebecca: ‘I am incredibly proud of Rebecca for all kinds of reasons, she is a terrific mother, a terrific daughter, she’s a terrific journalist and I am absolutely thrilled that she is taking on the presidential role at Childline.

‘I felt very [inaudible] because I am not able to do what I used to do, which is go in and be a volunteer counsellor on the phone and visit the various Childline bases and meet our staff and volunteers and she’s going to do all of that and it’s such an important role. I know she’ll do it brilliantly and I know she’ll love doing it. Becca, I am extremely proud of you.’

Rebecca responded to the message saying: ‘I don’t feel I could do anything at all in relation to how brilliant she’s been but I just want to do my best.’

In December, Esther revealed she has joined assisted-dying clinic Dignitas in Switzerland and will consider going there to end her life should her next scan show she is getting worse.

Dame Esther has also reignited the debate over assisted-dying after calling for national debate on the subject, saying people deserve ‘the choice’ over how they pass away.

She previously revealed she had not expected to spend this Christmas with her family after being diagnosed with cancer, but a ‘miracle’ drug had given her additional time with her loved ones. 

Writing in her column for The Mirror, her daughter Rebecca, 43, explained: ‘It’s not often that you know beforehand it will be the last time you will dish out turkey and pull crackers at the table with your mother, but that’s what this year has been for us.

‘She thought she would be dead in spring, but a miraculous drug has meant that we have another Christmas with her, a wonder we couldn’t have imagined possible when she was diagnosed in January. I was determined to make the most of it.’ 

Rebecca continued: ‘I couldn’t relax. I was too aware every moment was a precious treasure. I felt I needed to hold on to each minute so tightly I was probably exhausting to be around.’ 

She explained how despite initially stressing about the ‘trickling away time’ she managed to finally ‘relax’ and find contentment in making memories.

She revealed how Dame Esther made wonderful memories with her grandchildren – teaching two how to play solitaire and being taught in return how to do a sudoku puzzle – before singing karaoke late into the day.

Rebecca added that the was ‘filled with so much love that our memories will last’ and said she was holding out hope for ‘another Christmas miracle’ by having her mother with them next year.

She previously said she fears she could be accused of murder if she helps her seriously ill mother travel to Dignitas.

However, Dame Esther admitted such a decision would put her family and friends in a difficult position as they could be prosecuted should they decide to join her. 

Rebecca told TalkTV: ‘It’s impossible, isn’t it, because I can’t even say to you, I would support my mum on her journey to Dignitas because if I said that, that’s legally murky. 

‘Obviously, in my head, I would have thought that I would never let her go alone to somewhere like that, but I’m a busy working mum. I can’t leave my children to pop off to jail while she’s buzzing off to Switzerland.

‘The fact is only three people a year get prosecuted. But the actual process of going through a court case at what is the worst time of my life so far. 

‘You know, mum is my person. I do not want to live without her. I will have to live without her and please, please don’t make it worse for me by accusing me of murdering her and making me go through what would be a terrifying legal process.’

Dame Esther has called for a free vote on assisted dying as it’s ‘important that the law catches up with what the country wants’.

Speaking on the current illegal status of assisted dying in the UK she pleaded: ‘This cruelty must stop.’

She continued: ‘The current law was intended to protect the vulnerable, to stop them being pressured into suicide.

‘And of course precautions are vital. But bad cases make bad laws, and in trying to prevent crime the law at the moment denies us the most valuable freedom of all, the freedom to choose when to end our own suffering.’

She said she will find out in a few weeks if a new medication she has been taking is ‘performing its miracle’ or if it has ‘given up’.

Asked about the current rules on assisted dying, Ms Wilcox said: ‘Why would it be a problem to set up regulation around this? 

Rebecca broke down as she watched an emotional video montage of Esther, admitting her diagnosis is the news 'no one wants to hear' (seen together in 2017)

Rebecca broke down as she watched an emotional video montage of Esther, admitting her diagnosis is the news ‘no one wants to hear’ (seen together in 2017) 

‘We have regulation around everything. I’ve been trying to adopt a dog and the forms and licenses and things that go through that is ridiculous. 

‘So death and birth are possibly the most important moments in your life. 

‘My death, I want it to be exactly how I want it to be and I think coming together, making a law, making structures, making regulation that respects my opinion on my body and my death for everybody is the only sane way.

‘It would stop the money-makers who want to make money from people’s death and frankly if you’re going to give someone a good death, make some money out of it as long as you’re helping them.

‘I have to say, Dignitas does not look like a very lovely place. I would much rather have diamonds and champagnes and a hot bathtub, and it doesn’t look like they supply that, and I think mum would too. We both model ourselves on Dame Joan Collins who is fabulous.’

Ms Wilcox had earlier told ITV’s Good Morning Britain how her mother, who has also worked as a broadcaster for several years, ‘doesn’t care what anyone else says’ as she prepares to join her family for what tragically could be her last Christmas. 

‘It’s horrific and she always promised us she would live forever. She’s not usually one to break her promises so we’re a little upset about that. 

‘I would personally want to ground her plane if she was going to fly to Zurich but I know it’s her decision. I just don’t ever want her to go.’

Ms Wilcox also spoke of the heartbreak of watching her father, Desmond, endure a slow and painful death as he battled heart disease, adding: ‘That’s what mum wants to avoid.’

Dame Esther said that if ‘nothing’s working’ she might ‘buzz off to Zurich’ in Switzerland but realises this would put her family and friends in a difficult position as they could be prosecuted should they decide to join her. 



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