'Some people say that abused kids go on to be abusers – but forget it'
She founded ChildLine, is patron of numerous children's charities and has spent most of her career aiding work to keep abused youngsters safe, so Esther Rantzen believes the idea that she kept Jimmy Savile's sordid secret is preposterous.
She said: "It is a very strange accusation.
"One thing I have spent most of my time doing over that past 26 years is protecting children from abuse."
Carefully coiffed, friendly but very much in charge, Esther has the courage of her convictions.
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For anyone who is unaware, abuse campaigner Shy Keenan claimed she told the BBC stalwart about the late Savile – now the subject of an on-going child abuse investigation – when they met on her TV show, That's Life.
"She said she remembered a conversation with me, I do not remember," Esther said.
"I have asked the That's Life team and they do not remember it either.
"The publisher, Michael Joseph, was putting together a ChildLine book in 1986 and he invited Jimmy Savile to contribute, which I would never have allowed if I had known."
Regaling fans with tales of her Strictly Come Dancing stint, her chat show and her icon, Joan Collins, Esther also had a serious message to give through her Childline book, at the recent Hull and East Riding Literary Luncheon, held at Willerby Manor.
She penned Running Out Of Tears: 25 Years Of ChildLine, in her quest to discover just how much they had helped those children on the fringes at a time when they needed a friendly ear.
Many of the 2.7 million who called over the past 26 years have carried on ChildLine's legacy.
"Some people say that abused kids go on to be abusers – but forget it," Esther said.
"There are many people in the book who have been successful and valued the help we gave. They want to give back to others in the hope their lives could be changed.
"Some of them said to me, 'without ChildLine, we would not be here'.
"All of them said that the phone call changed their lives."
Their stories start painfully, describing neglectful and sometimes horrific childhoods but there is always a way out.
One of the callers who completely turned her life around is now a professional NSPCC fundraiser.
As an 11-year-old girl, her mum was an alcoholic, which meant she was responsible for looking after herself.
Bullied at school for being different, she ran away and when she wanted to call for help, she found ChildLine's number in a phone box. They organised a refuge for the night and found foster parents for her.
She kept calling ChildLine. When her foster mother kicked her out for getting pregnant, the volunteers did not give up on her.
With their support, she managed to look after her child and go to university, graduating with a first.
"If we do protect children effectively in time, they can dedicate themselves to protecting other children so we can help future generations," Esther said.
But the helpline has not always got it right.
Back in its early days, when this was a new phenomenon, Esther was naive of how to help vulnerable children.
"At the time I thought, 'we have to persuade these children to tell us where they are'," Esther said.
"But abusers being abusers and paedophiles being paedophiles, whatever threat they had made to keep them quiet would mean the children being more afflicted."
Intervening and getting police or authorities involved is not as important as making sure that a child is safe, according to Esther.
Now she is taking to the phone lines again in a new revolution.
We all hear about silver surfers but can the internet ever really replace a good, old-fashioned chat?
Rolling out across Britain next year, the SilverLine will put volunteers on a 24-hour helpline for the elderly.
After losing her husband, TV documentary-maker Desmond Wilcox, Esther wanted to tackle loneliness in older people.
Piloting in Manchester, they received more than 100 calls in the first 24 hours.
She said: "We've had everything from someone asking about lunch clubs in the area, to someone talking about the loneliness of bereavement.
"Most people put on a brave face. They say 'there are so many people worse off than me,' but loneliness is bad for your health.
"We are trying to break through the stigma. It is the same for those who ring ChildLine.
"When we started our campaign, judges were telling juries women and children were not to be believed."
There has been a shift in society's consciousness since those early days of ChildLine.
The attitude towards women and children has changed, and those being abused are no longer ignored.
Running Out Of Tears: 25 Years Of ChildLine is published by Biteback, and costs £18.99.