Esther Rantzen

This article is from 2008.

Esther Rantzen

Loving life in the third age

It was the death of her husband Desmond Wilcox that shaped the philosophy behind Esther Rantzen OBE’s new book If Not Now, When? A self-help book, after a fashion, it expands on the virtues of enjoying life at every available opportunity, even into retirement or ‘the third age’, to describe the elder years in a less negative way. ‘When Desi died aged 69, I thanked the heavens we did some of the things we’d planned,’ says the ex-That’s Life presenter, ‘There’s no guarantee you have 20, 30 years ahead of you, so enjoy; that’s my message. The theory is that retirement allows you to fill your time with all the things you want to, and of course I have to do chores and take meetings like everyone else, but I’m also free to go to Norway with my son in two weeks if I choose to.’

Well-known as a tireless campaigner for charity, Rantzen also has strong views on the veiled ageism of the medium she once ruled. ‘I’m not saying everyone on television ought to be over 50,’ she says. ‘But it’s completely stupid of producers to listen to advertisers who tell them the sole target audience is aged 16 to 24. Strictly Come Dancing is the perfect example of how you can appeal right across the generations, while in The Apprentice, Alan Sugar has humour and gravitas, and that’s all because of the age he is.’

20 Aug, 1.30pm, 7pm, £9 (£7).

Esther Rantzen

Esther Rantzen OBE embraces the philosophy of her self-help book, 'If Not Now, When?'. 'Part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival'.

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