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Encyclopedia > That's Life!

That's Life! was a television magazine-style series on BBC between 1973 and 1994, presented by Esther Rantzen throughout the entire run, with various changes of co-presenters. The show was generally recorded about an hour prior to transmission on Saturday and, later, Sunday nights. For other uses, see BBC (disambiguation). ... 1973 (MCMLXXIII) was a common year starting on Monday. ... 1994 (MCMXCIV) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated as the International Year of the Family and the International Year of the Sport and the Olympic Ideal by United Nations. ... A television presenter is a British term for a person who introduces or hosts television programmes. ... Esther Louise Rantzen CBE (born June 22, 1940), is a British journalist and television presenter who is best known for her long stint in Thats Life! and her activities as founder of the charity ChildLine. ...

Contents

Format

The original purpose of the programme was consumer protection, particularly safety issues. The importance of wearing seat belts, for example, was illustrated before attitudes supporting their use became widespread. Britain's telephone helpline for children, ChildLine, was developed by Rantzen following items on the programme. Awareness for the need for child organ transplants was increased through the 1984 death of Ben Hardwicke, a toddler whose liver disease was followed by the show. In tribute, Marti Webb released a version of Michael Jackson's 'Ben'. Consumer protection is a form of government regulation which protects the interests of consumers. ... ChildLine is a UK-based childrens charity. ... This article is about the year 1984. ... Ben Hardwicke (6 December 1981 - 23 March 1985) was Britains youngest liver transplant patient. ... The liver is an organ in some animals, including mammals (and therefore humans), birds, and reptiles. ... Marti Webb in Andrew Lloyd Webbers Song and Dance (1982) Marti Webb (born on 13 December 1944 in London) is a musical actress from England, who appeared on stage in Evita, before starring in Andrew Lloyd Webbers one woman show Tell Me On A Sunday in the mid... For other people named Michael Jackson, see Michael Jackson (disambiguation). ...


The programme also featured less serious items, which over time grew in number. These included the 'Jobsworth,' exposing companies and authorities who had implemented obscure regulations and policies causing more grievances than what they aimed to correct. The show was also infamous for showcasing abnormally shaped vegetables, "odd odes" (humorous poems), performing pets (memorably, a dog able to "say" "sausages" and "Esther"!), and street interviews with members of the public. There were also musical interludes from performers such as Victoria Wood, Doc Cox, and occasionally Grant Baynham. Baynham had several buckets of water thrown over him in several live programmes after Rantzen had apparently objected to him smoking, much to his considerable chagrin; on his final show, he got his own back by doing the same to Esther. Taken from the line Its more than my jobs worth . ... Victoria Wood OBE (born 19 May 1953) is an English comedian, actress, singer and writer. ... Doc Cox is a television personality best known for his appearances on the BBC TV programme Thats Life!. However he is also known as Ivor Biggun and fronts a humorous band known as Ivor Biggun and the Red-nosed Burglars, whose specialty is innuendo-laden smutty songs. ... Look up Smoking in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Presenters often left the confines of the studio for various stunts; Esther was arrested during one vox pop for apparently obstructing the pavement. The incident was broadcast in its entirety, along with Esther being driven away in a police van and the crowd's humorously cheering her arrest.


The co-presenters added extra personality to the show. They were all men, and were popularly nicknamed "Esther's nancies" (as they were mostly young and effeminate — A "nancy" or "nancy boy" being British slang for an effeminate man or homosexual). They would dramatise cases by each reading the dialogue of a 'character.' This resulted in hilarity during less-serious cases when they attempted to imitate foreign accents; Adrian Mills was famously unable to perform in a Spanish accent in an unrehearsed item. Adrian Mills is a British television presenter who appeared in the 1980s on Thats Life! with Esther Rantzen, and in later years has been a host on TV Travel Shop. ...


A cartoon strip, drawn by Rod Jordon, featuring items from that edition accompanied the closing credits.


The very last edition was named That's Life All Over, and was predominantly a highlight show.


Origins

According to the Guinness Television Encyclopaedia, the BBC conceived the programme as a replacement for the similar Braden's Week, hosted by Bernard Braden between 1968 and 1972. Rantzen was a reporter on this show, while her husband, Desmond Wilcox, was an editor. Braden was dismissed when he appeared in a commercial on ITV, leading to the introduction of That's Life! a year later. Bernard Braden was a Canadian, actor and comedian. ... 1968 (MCMLXVIII) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1968 calendar). ... 1972 (MCMLXXII) was a leap year starting on Saturday. ... Desmond Wilcox (May 21, 1931 - September 6, 2000) was a British documentary maker at the BBC and ITV. He was producer of This Week, Man Alive, Thats Life!. // Wilcox ran away from home at age 16 to work as a deckhand in the merchant marine. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... ITV (Independent Television) is the name popularly given to the original network of British commercial television broadcasters, set up under the Independent Television Authority (ITA) to provide competition to the BBC. In England, Wales and southern Scotland, the network has been rebranded to ITV1 by ITV plc, the owners of...


Criticisms

Over time the programme increasingly concentrated on sentimental, light and humorous items - particularly after being taken to court by a doctor it tried to discredit and landing the BBC with huge litigation costs (estimated at £1.2 million in a Guardian article) - and featured and appealed to old age pensioners. The public hence became increasingly polarized between those who loved the programme, and those who loathed both it and its presenter Esther Rantzen. The latter camp included Victor Lewis-Smith, who made some hoax phone calls to the programme, sometimes referring to Rantzen as 'Teeth' after her most prominent feature. Esther Louise Rantzen CBE (born June 22, 1940), is a British journalist and television presenter who is best known for her long stint in Thats Life! and her activities as founder of the charity ChildLine. ... Victor Lewis-Smith (possibly born May 12, 1959, although UK birth records contain no Lewis, Smith or Lewis-Smith born on that date) is a British satirist, producer, critic and prankster. ...


Co-Presenters

Bill Buckley (William Buckley, Born January 8, 1959 in Birmingham, United Kingdom) is a presenter on London talk radio station LBC 97. ... Doc Cox is a television personality best known for his appearances on the BBC TV programme Thats Life!. However he is also known as Ivor Biggun and fronts a humorous band known as Ivor Biggun and the Red-nosed Burglars, whose specialty is innuendo-laden smutty songs. ... Simon Hew Dalrymple Fanshawe (born December 26, 1956, in Devizes, England) is a writer and broadcaster. ... Cyril Fletcher (June 25, 1913 – January 2, 2005) was an English comedian. ... Paul Heiney (born April 20, 1949 in Sheffield, Yorkshire) has been a television reporter in the United Kingdom for over twenty years, starting with Thats Life!. He has worked on In at the Deep End, The Travel Show, Food and Drink and, on BBC Radio 4, You and Yours. ... George Layton (born March 2, 1943 at Bradford, Yorkshire, England) is a British actor who studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. ... Adrian Mills is a British television presenter who appeared in the 1980s on Thats Life! with Esther Rantzen, and in later years has been a host on TV Travel Shop. ... Joanna Munro is a former television presenter who appeared in the 1980s on Thats Life! (television) with Esther Rantzen. ... Kieran Prendiville (born 25 December 1947 in Rochdale, Lancashire) is a television writer and producer, and has also presented some shows. ... Chris Serle (born July 13, 1943, Bristol, England) is a former BBC TV presenter, reporter and actor. ... Scott Sherrin was a transracial adoptee, adopted by a white couple in London. ... Mollie Sugden (born Mary Isobel Sugden on 21 July 1922, in Keighley, Yorkshire) is an English comedy actress who found fame as saleswoman Betty Slocombe in the popular British sitcom Are You Being Served? (1972 - 1985). ... Victoria Wood OBE (born 19 May 1953) is an English comedian, actress, singer and writer. ... Glyn Worsnip (2 September 1938 - 7 June 1996) was a British radio and television presenter. ...

References

Evans, Jeff (1995) The Guinness Television Encyclopaedia. ISBN 0-85112-744-4


 
 

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