Esther Rantzen: If I Ruled the World

Journalist and presenter Esther Rantzen was the face of That’s Life for 21 years and launched ChildLine in 1986, helping children nationwide.

I’d ensure politicians didn’t make wild claims...

They’d have to use the same discipline that research scientists and doctors employ; backing up their arguments with solid factual information that’s transparent and accountable. I’d fine heavily any politician who made statements based on their ignorant prejudice. This would reduce most to total silence—which might be a good thing.

 

I’d direct scientific effort into sunny days and rain at night...

Nature could get on with what it needs to flourish—not blistering sunshine or deluges, everything in moderation—and we’d wake with smiles on our faces. My heart is lifted by the sun.

 

I’d make children safe...

I’d ensure people who abuse or neglect their children were detected early and I’d remove their children from them. I’d also put all paedophiles together on an island where no children would ever set foot and surround it with alligators. People who sexually abuse children aren’t obvious; they wear a range of disguises in order to get to their prey. Someone once said to me, “Monsters don’t get near children but nice men do.”  I just want our children protected from them.

 

We’d find older faces beautiful... 

Nowadays, we go to ridiculous lengths to erase every line and wrinkle, and in doing so we iron out the stories of our past and degrade older age. Think of Mother Teresa; her face radiated faith, commitment and experience. We should value older people far more and recognise that we can learn from their valuable experience. Many older people—who have been at the centre of their families, relied on in the workplace or community—find that with old age the tide goes out. They’re left stranded and become isolated. One of the obvious ways to help is to provide more appropriate housing; developments tailored for older people so they have the network to support their changing needs. 

 

I’d ban stone cladding on houses and concrete driveways...

Stone cladding is simply hideous, and concrete prevents the rain being absorbed into the earth. We seem to have lost the art of making beautiful buildings and it makes me cross. We’re animals that respond to our environment and looking at ugly buildings is depressing. 

 

I’d do away with very high platform heels...

The ones where women totter on an artificial ledge so toweringly high they can barely put one foot in front of the other. I’d like women to rediscover what fun it is to walk and run the way God intended.

 

The media and fashion industry would have a social responsibility...

No size-zero models. Of course it’s fun to look at pictures of glamorous people, but not painfully thin ones. At ChildLine we counsel so many children who hate the way they look, and eating disorders have become endemic, particularly among young women who feel they don’t live up to the media’s definition of beauty. 

 

I’d encourage every family to sit down and eat together...

We used to have family supper every night where we’d discuss our days and it was a wonderfully valuable time. Now, with screens in every room, we must find ways to bring the family together and encourage young people to share their concerns or celebrate the good things in life. Families are the best kind of support. It would also be a very good thing if we all learned to cook properly. That’s something I’m not very good at myself, but then I’ve been quite busy…