Esther Rantzen interview: ‘I fully intend to go to my grandsons’ 21st birthday parties’

Dame Esther Rantzen would like to make more space for her family
Dame Esther Rantzen would like to make more space for her family
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Esther Rantzen has no intention of slowing down – despite the fact that her PA would very much like her to.

“It’s not easy, is it?” she smiles. “When people say they need you and you can make a difference, it’s not easy.

Dame Esther Rantzen talks to Laura McMullan in the News Letter offices

Dame Esther Rantzen talks to Laura McMullan in the News Letter offices

“I would like to make more space for my family because they are a source of so much happiness for me.”

Her three grandsons are Benji, Alexander and Teddy, and she reveals that they all affectionately refer to her as Etta.

“Have I any remaining ambitions? I intend to go to their 21st birthday parties,” she says with a smile, before adding that her mother lived into her 90s, but of course, one never knows what is around the corner.

On the subject of immortality, I admit I’m curious about her position as regards a faith, as I read conflicting reports, some saying she was Jewish, other that she was agnostic.

She laughs as she replies.

“You know, Jews can do that,” she twinkles. “You see, all my family are Jewish, if Hitler were alive today, he’d say I’m Jewish and he’d send me off somewhere horrible.

“So there’s no question I’m Jewish. Do I believe in God? Well, it’s not that I don’t believe in God. And if I end up anywhere where I meet Him, or Her, I shall say, ‘I’m sorry I didn’t quite have enough faith to believe in you at the time.’

“But on the other hand, if there isn’t a God, I’m not relying on Him. So that’s where I am.”

She reveals that she’s planning to write to the widowed wife of the late Sir Terry Wogan, Helen, but admits that she’s finding it “difficult” to put pen to paper.

“Because I’ve got to do that because I know what she’s going through,” she says, adding that she, like everyone, felt a “huge sense of loss” following the veteran broadcaster’s passing.

She’s quick to respond when I ask her what she believes her ‘least attractive’ personal qualities are (“I used to be very unpunctual, now I’m too punctual and I arrive everywhere an hour or two early”) but takes a few minutes to think about the best ones.

Finally she answers: “I think I do get passionate about things I believe in, which can be good – and can be bad. #

“But I think if you agree with me that it’s an important cause, then I think I get driven along by my passion, and if you put an obstacle in my path I will find a way around it if I can, and this can be annoying to certain people.

“If I can make a thing work, I will.”