Dame Esther Rantzen didn't think she would last a week as a TV presenter because she wasn't "attractive enough".

Dame Esther Rantzen

Dame Esther Rantzen

The 78-year-old star is celebrating 50 years of fronting TV shows - including 'That's Life!' for 21 years - but she was convinced she wouldn't be doing such a job for very long when she first started out because she didn't have the cheekbones for the role.

She said: "I didn't think for a minute I'd be presenting 50 years later. I sat next to my lovely friend John Pitman and we clutched each other's knees.

"We were quite frightened and thought we'd be found out within five minutes and sent packing to our typewriters.

"We didn't think for a minute we'd last a week, never mind a series or 50 years. I just didn't think I had the cheekbones, I didn't think I was nearly attractive enough."

Esther claims she was "the ugly one" when she started out her TV career, and has recalled being turned down for an on-camera report in Belfast because her bosses were concerned about what she would wear.

She said: "I think it has been a fascinating time because when I started on television in 1968 there were only two other women - Joan Bakewell and Angela Huth.

"It was much harder then for women and I was the ugly one. So it was against the odds.

"Even when I was a researcher someone I was working for said I'd never make a producer because I was a woman.

"I asked permission to do some reporting from Belfast and the person running the programme said, 'We can't do that Esther because what would you wear?'"

Despite amassing 50 years on the TV, Esther admits she isn't thinking about retiring anytime soon.

She added to the Daily Mirror newspaper: "My children are on at me all the time to retire. But the right moment never seems to come along."

Earlier this week, Esther confirmed 'That's Life!' will return to screens next year.

She said: "A friend of mine is having a go. We will see. 'That's Life!' was a very particular programme which lasted for 21 years.

"It talked about injustices, washing machines that broke and showed you a talking dog at its funniest."