Dame Esther Rantzen believes that privatising the BBC would be a blow for people suffering from loneliness.

The TV star, founder of The Silver Line Charity which offers support for the elderly, said that making it a subscription service would isolate vulnerable people.

No10 is said to be keen to replace the TV licence fee with a subscription model, which could force the sale of many BBC radio stations, mean fewer TV channels and a drop in web content.

Dame Esther spoke to Good Morning Britain about BBC local radio stations yesterday, she said: “The people who ring me up and talk about loneliness are the people who depend and listen to them.”

Dame Esther Rantzen

When the BBC was described as a “dinosaur”, she replied: “Never underestimate how greatly loved dinosaurs are,” adding that many people “watch by accident and find something of real value.

"If this planet survives, it will be due to two words – David Attenborough.”

Dame Esther, 79, said the Prime Minister must think before making any move.

She said: “I think Boris cares about his legacy. He doesn’t want to be known as the man who destroyed the BBC.”

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The Government is already consulting to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee, likely to lead in a drop in income for the BBC of £200million.

When polled 68% of members of broadcasting union Bectu said the BBC was their main source of political news.