'I’d ground her plane to Dignitas but it’s her choice, she doesn’t want to die like dad', Esther Rantzen’s daughter says

19 December 2023, 09:50 | Updated: 15 February 2024, 09:37

Dame Esther Rantzen (l) and with her daughter Rebecca Wilcox (r)
Dame Esther Rantzen (l) and with her daughter Rebecca Wilcox (r). Picture: Alamy

By StephenRigley

Dame Esther Rantzen's daughter has spoken about her mum's decision to join Dignitas saying that it is the tv legend's 'choice'.

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The legendary presenter, 83, revealed she had joined the assisted dying clinic amid her battle with lung cancer.

In January, she was told the cancer was terminal and as it advanced to stage four and wasn't sure how long she had left.

Dame Esther Rantzen with daughter Rebecca Wilcox
Dame Esther Rantzen with daughter Rebecca Wilcox. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Esther Rantzen reveals she has joined Dignitas and will consider assisted dying if health does not improve

Read More: Dame Esther Rantzen steps down as Childline president after terminal lung cancer diagnosis

Speaking on Good Morning Britain her daughter Rebecca Wilcox said: “My mother never makes a decision in complete isolation but doesn't care what anyone else thinks.

“Its horrific and she always promised us she would live forever and she not one to break her promises - but this is her choice.

“I would want to ground her plane if she was going to Zurich but it's her choice. She is absolutely correct.

"My late father didn't have a good death. It was horrific. His death replaced our memories of him for a very long time.

"That is what mum wants to avoid."

She added: “When we got the diagnosis in January we never thought we’d have Christmas with her again but here we are.

“She's coming here for Christmas. It's a joy and delight.

"I don't want her to die but I want her to have the choice."

This week Dame Esther revealed she has joined Dignitas, the Swiss group that helps with assisted dying - which is banned in England - as she waits to see if a "miracle" treatment works.

The That's Life! presenter said: "I have joined Dignitas. I have in my brain thought, well, if the next scan says nothing's working, I might buzz off to Zurich – but it puts my family and friends in a difficult position because they would want to go with me.

“And that means that the police might prosecute them. So we've got to do something. At the moment, it’s not really working, is it?"

Dame Esther said she would want a free vote in Parliament on the subject had she been prime minister for a day.

"Why should you not be given the choice about how you want to go and when you want to go?" she said.

Esther married the late BBC documentary maker Desmond Wilcox in 1977.They were together for 30 years until his death from heart disease in 2000. It has long been a topic of debate whether or not assisted dying should become legal in the UK.

Dame Esther's comments are likely to inspire renewed discussion of the UK's ban on it.

Helping someone with assisted dying or going with them so it can be done abroad carries a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.

Dame Esther is best known for presenting That's Life for 21 years from 1973 to 1994. She also founded Childline but stepped back after her diagnosis.