Following Sir Nicholas’s return, Dame Esther addressed the crowd, asking everybody who owed their lives to him to stand.
More than a dozen individuals applauded, and the remainder of the crowd rose to their feet when it was revealed that they were the children and grandchildren of those spared.
The new film One Life, starring Anthony Hopkins, tells Sir Nicholas’ tale, detailing the lengths he went to save as many children as he could, as well as the shame and sadness he suffered for decades for not being able to save more.
Dame Esther expressed her feelings on witnessing that great TV event develop.
‘I found it deeply moving at the time and I actually had to stop recording because I couldn’t carry on because I was just overcome with emotion,’ she shared.
‘It’s the only time, the only time [in my career] I’ve had to do that.
‘I climbed off my chair and went to the side of the set. There is a rumour that I borrowed Nicky’s handkerchief to wipe my eyes. But I cannot confirm that I remember whose handkerchief I used,’ she laughed.
‘But anyway, then I went back onto the set, climbed onto my chair again and carried on.’
Reflecting on finding out about his story for the first time, Dame Esther said she was ‘gripped by the idea’ he and a tiny team of other people had saved ‘so many lives’.
‘The idea that we could reunite them with photographs and details of their childhood was a huge opportunity for us. As a program as well as meeting this amazing man,’ she said.
However, the broadcast did face criticism at the time.
‘Some people love surprises. I love surprises. And of course, in television, surprises are quite often inspiring, delightful. And so I’m on that side of the argument, but there are people who think it was a disgraceful showbizzy way to treat this story,’ she said.
‘Well, all I can say is, you know, this has 42 million viewings on the internet and that clearly means [a lot of] people enjoyed it. And I still find it deeply moving.’
Following his appearances on That’s Life!, Sir Nicholas and Dame Esther became great friends, meeting for lunch on a regular basis until his death in 2015, at the age of 106.
That’s Life! ended six years after Sir Nicholas first appeared on television.
Despite being quite proud of the variety of stories presented throughout the show’s 21-year history, Dame Esther feels it is unlikely the show would be resurrected.
‘It’s interesting these days, television programs are very much more specialised. You know, you get news programs and you get investigative programs and the idea of having an investigative program that could feature a talking dog or tell the story of Nicky Winton…. I’m not sure a commissioner these days would accept it,’ she said.
Dame Esther confirmed last year that she had stage 4 lung cancer after a decades-long career in the spotlight.
Last month, the presenter revealed that she had joined the Swiss group Dignitas, which allows people to commit suicide with the help of others.
However, the practice is illegal in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and carries a maximum prison penalty of 14 years.
Looking at other countries and their laws, Dame Esther stated that they had discovered a manner of ‘protecting people’ and questioned why the same could not be done here.
‘I think there are some of the palliative care doctors that think this is a condemnation of what they do, which is to try and make sure that people do have pain free deaths,’ she explained.
‘And of course, we know they do wonderful work, but we also have to admit that not everybody has the kind of good death that they wish to have and, in some cases, ask to have, and they are denied it.’
‘So, we’ve got to do something about it.’
She concluded: ‘Surely you have to give us the choice. I mean, we can extend life. So why can’t we offer people the choice of ending life if it becomes intolerable for them?
One Life is in cinemas now.
Source My Celebrity Life.