Esther Rantzen and husband Desmond Wilcox

Esther Rantzen husband: Moments after Desmond Wilcox’s death left presenter with one regret

Her partner died in 2000

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Esther Rantzen spoke about husband Desmond in a moving documentary about grief for Channel 5.

In an honest admission about the moments after he died in hospital in 2000, Esther described her main “regret” when doctors told her she had to leave him.

During Esther Rantzen: Living With Grief, aired on Thursday (February 18) night, the TV presenter admitted that even in the moments after someone has died, it can feel as though they are still there.

Desmond Wilcox died in September 2000 of a heart attack at St Mary’s Hospital.

Esther Rantzen spoke about the impact of losing her husband (Credit: Burning Bright Productions / Channel 5)

What did Esther Rantzen say about her husband?

Speaking in Living With Grief on Channel 5, Esther said: “I stayed with my husband as long as I felt he was there.

“Those final moments matter so much.

“I think I climbed into bed with him, in the hospital. And then someone came in and said they wanted to do some tests and I had to get out of his arms.”

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She continued: “And I’ve always regretted that, I’ve always felt that was wrong. Because I felt that doctors were still trying to save him, even when it was impossible.”

Desmond Wilcox died in September 2000 (Credit: Photo by Alan Davidson/Shutterstock 7528946r)

Lucy’s heartbreaking story

Esther had been speaking to grieving mother Lucy, whose toddler son Jack drowned.

Lucy told Esther: “Jack, he was that little boy that used to bring sunshine and happiness to anyone he met.

“[It happened] two weeks before his second birthday. It was a normal day, the children were playing, it was the summer holidays. And then the telephone rang, it was mum, ‘Got Jack settled, done some drawing’.

“It wasn’t a very long conversation. But I remember looking down and Jack had gone. I noticed that the dog had gone as well.

I’ve always regretted that, I’ve always felt that was wrong.

“I kept saying ‘Jack, Jack’ but there was no response. I went to the back door, looked outside and saw the dog sat out by the pond, and I just knew…”

Lucy said she found her son face down in the water. She explained: “He was just floating there and I remember screaming at the top of my voice and trying to resuscitate him. We went into the ambulance. I remember going into the ambulance with him.”

The mum explained how she stayed with her son for as long as she could after he died, until the medics told her she had to let him go.

“We got the time to be together with him,” she said.

Channel 5 viewers praised Esther and the show’s contributors, including Lucy (Credit: Burning Bright Productions / Channel 5)

What did Channel 5 viewers say?

On Twitter, viewers heaped praise on the programme and thanked Esther and the show’s contributors for sharing their moving stories.

One said: “@channel5_tv What a beautifully made programme about grief and bereavement with Esther Rantzen and all those who shared their stories.”

A second tweeted: “Well done Channel 5 for doing this programme. Thank you.”

A third put: “Esther Rantzen’s prog Living With Grief on telly tonight was not what I was expecting; really, very moving and if you get the chance to catch up with it I recommend watching. So many astonishingly brave people talking.”

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A fourth wrote on Twitter: “Finished watch Esther Rantzen: Living With Grief. Much-needed show, lovingly covered with her personal account of grief.”

A fifth said: “What a fantastic woman Esther Rantzen is, a very moving programme, I’d recommend watching #EstherRantzenLivingwithGrief.”

Someone else wrote: “My days. I was a complete mess watching Esther Rantzen: Living With Grief.”

“Watching #estherrantzen #LivingWithGrief,” said another. “She is such an inspiration. Well done for this… in the light of the pandemic.”

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