Dame Esther Rantzen's Brave Farewell

TV icon confronts mortality with poignant dignity.

by Nouman Rasool
Dame Esther Rantzen's Brave Farewell
© Max Mumby/Getty Images

Dame Esther Rantzen, the esteemed television presenter, has openly expressed her poignant final desires, amidst her advocacy for the legalization of assisted dying in the UK. The 83-year-old icon, who was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, has candidly discussed her contemplation of physician-assisted suicide, aligning herself with the Swiss organization Dignitas.

In an emotional dialogue with the Radio Times, Rantzen articulated her fervent wish to be remembered with "love and laughter," highlighting her commitment to reforming end-of-life care legislation. "Following my diagnosis with stage four lung cancer, I have embarked on a deeply personal campaign to advocate for changes in the laws governing assisted dying.

I am buoyed by the growing public support for this cause and remain hopeful for legislative reform within the decade," she remarked. Rantzen's plea to the public is clear: to initiate dialogue with their parliamentary representatives to foster change.

She illuminated the legal quandaries faced by loved ones accompanying someone to Dignitas, underscoring the paradox of potential legal repercussions for what is ultimately a personal decision.

Esther's Final Chapter

Reflecting on her final moments, Rantzen shared her ideal farewell: a cherished gathering with loved ones in Zurich, indulging in caviar and Champagne without concern for allergies, all while embracing the memories of her late husband, beloved pet, and mother.

Dame Esther Rantzen's revelation of her cancer battle in January of the previous year was a heartfelt admission of her condition. "I have been diagnosed with lung cancer, which has now metastasized. Currently, I am undergoing various evaluations to determine the optimal course of treatment," she disclosed, emphasizing her preference for transparency over secrecy.

Renowned for her illustrious career in journalism and broadcasting, Rantzen's legacy also includes the founding of Childline in 1986, a testament to her enduring impact on society. Her life story is intertwined with her late husband, Desmond Wilcox, a fellow BBC producer, whose memory continues to inspire her journey.