Dame Esther Rantzen revealed she had lung cancer in January, and tonight she could not appear on The One Show because of the condition.

The 82-year-old star missed the BBC show’s tribute to That’s Life 50 years after it first aired.

That’s Life – a TV show which was a mix of investigations, topical issues and entertainment – ran for 21 years from 1973 to 1994 and Dame Esther was the face of it throughout.

But while The One Show remembered That’s Life with a series of montages and memories, Dame Esther could not be there to join in on the tribute due to her lung cancer.

In a statement read out by Alex Jones, the broadcaster – who founded charities Childline and The Silver Line – said: ‘I can’t believe it’s 50 years since the launch when I’m still only 35 myself . Those 21 years of That’s Life passed in a flash!

‘My current illness, lung cancer, is the reason that, sadly, I can’t be with you tonight – I would have loved to join you to suggest that someone should be making That’s Life today.  

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‘Of course, The One Show does a lot of the same great work, but you do need a few more talented dogs.  

‘I would also have loved to be there to thank you so much for reviving all those happy memories – please send everyone, the viewers and my fellow That’s Lifers, my fondest love.’

In January, Dame Esther revealed she was living with lung cancer which had ‘spread’ but she remained ‘optimistic’.

At the time, the former journalist said in her statement: ‘In the last few weeks I have discovered that I am suffering from lung cancer which has now spread.

‘At the moment I am undergoing various tests, to assess the best treatment.’

‘I have decided not to keep this secret any more because I find it difficult to skulk around various hospitals wearing an unconvincing disguise, and because I would rather you heard the facts from me.’

She continued to the PA news agency: ‘At the age of 82, this diagnosis has prompted me to look back over the years, and I want to express my profound thanks to everyone who has made my life so joyful, filled with fun, and with inspiration.’

Dame Esther went on to say how much she loved her family, as she continued: ‘My three children Miriam, Rebecca and Joshua have been the most wonderful support, company, and source of love and laughter and I am deeply grateful to them.’

As well as inspiring women in broadcasting, Dame Esther was made a DBE in 2015 after her endless work outside journalism with her charities ChildLine and The Silver Line.

Dame Esther shared her three kids – TV presenter Rebecca Wilcox, 43, Joshua Wilcox, 41, and Miriam Wilcox, 45 – with her late husband and fellow journalist Desmond Wilcox before he died in 2000 from a heart attack aged 69.

The One Show airs weeknights at 7pm on BBC One.

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