Esther Rantzen: If Jimmy Savile doesn’t bury her husband’s daughter might
“We all blocked our ears to the gossip.”
“It would be such a great shame if all that work was sabotaged by this. My concern is for the children who are suffering and other survivors who need support…I would be very, very distressed if people lost confidence in me, particularly if people working with children lose confidence in me, but I’m told that everyone who works at whole-heatedly support me.”
That’s Esther Rantzen who set up ChildLine in 1986, a confidential phone service for under 19s to open up about abuse.
Reader AGW writes:
Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile, OBE, KCSG – “Smelly Old Git” to his more mature victims – was not alone. Others covered up because of easy sexual favours, career ambitions or fear of disclosure.
There are other forms of predatory sexual abuse and career leg ups:
The reference below dates eight years after the fact. Eight years of clandestine bumping the uglies or as Wilcox described his soirees with Rantzen “urgent” talks.
The Wilcox children were less than amused. If there had been a Childline then – and knowing what the principal’s principles were – they may have not used it.
Wilcox was high up at the BBC. He died before Savile.
In 2001, Olga Craig wrote:
IT was a callous moment of contempt: the instant when the years of dislike Esther Rantzen had harboured for her husband’s ex-wife, Patsy, boiled over into public vitriol. Within a month of her former rival’s cremation Esther, seated next to her step-daughter Cassandra, Patsy’s daughter, gleefully answered a quiz question which asked what had recently burned in Richmond. “My husband’s ex-wife,” Esther shrieked triumphantly.
Cassandra Wilcox, Desmond Wilcox’s daughter by his first wife Patsy, claimed: “It was the moment I became aware of the extent of Esther’s bitterness towards my mother.”
Esther and Desmond’s love began as an illicit affair.
Through access to her mother’s unpublished manuscripts she tells how Patsy felt Esther had stolen her husband and “gushingly publicised every detail of her marriage” to Desmond. Describing how her parents met as cub reporters, Cassandra says Desmond first met Esther when she joined the BBC. She and Patsy worked together and Patsy invited her home to meet “this fantastic guy I am married to”.
Esther visited so often that Cassandra called her “Aunty Esther”. But when Patsy found out that she was having an affair with her husband and asked how she could do it, she alleges Esther said: “May I please remind you that you said I could not only join the queue but I should go to the front. That is exactly what I did.”
Desmond left Patsy and his children to live with Esther – although he came back briefly, only to leave again. Revealing how she first met Esther when she visited the couple’s flat in Chelsea, Cassandra says it was the only time Esther ever made her a cup of tea. “She was quite open about the fact that she could not cook, use a vacuum cleaner or sew. She never needed to. She had become a star and had her own domestic staff”…
Patsy was so traumatised by her husband’s desertion that she had to be admitted to Charing Cross Hospital. While there she bought a flat in Richmond and Desmond and Esther, who were looking after the children, moved into the family home at Kew…
Patsy wrote in her manuscript: “Sometimes when I leave my BBC office on a cold, wet evening to come home to my little flat, I have to walk past Esther and her children. They will be waiting for a chauffeur-driven car to take them home. To what was my home”…
Patsy, Cassandra says, never found happiness after Desmond left her. In turn, she says, Esther always felt bitter towards Patsy. “When I ask myself why,” says Cassandra, “my only answer lies in something my mother wrote in 1977: ‘I dislike her for the pain and distress she has caused people I love dearly. I know it may sound odd, but that includes my husband. If Esther is a real person she will find it difficult to find total happiness at the cost of what it has taken to get what she wants.”
Good old Esther…
Photo: 1978: Emily Alice sleeps through it all but her first public appearance in the Lindo Wing of St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, London, is a smash hit with her parents Esther Rantzen (37), presenter of ‘That’s Life’, and BBC Executive Desmond Wilcox (46). The baby weighed 7lb 4oz.