Dame Esther Rantzen has shared that she has joined Dignitas as she considers ending her own life.

The founder of Childline, Dame Esther revealed she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in May.

The 83-year-old has now shared her intentions of assisted dying with Swiss organisation Dignitas if her cancer does not improve.

Speaking on the BBC's The Today Podcast, Dame Esther said: "I have joined Dignitas. I have in my brain thought, well, if the next scan says nothing’s working I might buzz off to Zurich."

However, the veteran broadcaster also confessed that she knows her choice would leave her family in a "difficult position", adding: "But it puts my family and friends in a difficult position because they would want to go with me.

“And that means that the police might prosecute them. So we’ve got to do something. At the moment, it’s not really working, is it?”

Dame Esther Rantzen joins Dignitas as she calls for vote on assisted dying

Discussing assisted suicide, Dame Esther suggested that there should be a free vote on the matter, as hosts of the podcast Nick Robinson and Amol Rajan asked what she would do if she was made prime minister for the week, Dame Esther said: “I would get them to do a free vote on assisted dying.

“I think it’s important that the law catches up with what the country wants.”

She said that her family has said it is her decision to make, adding: “I explained to them that actually I don’t want their last memories of me to be painful because if you watch someone you love having a bad death, that memory obliterates all the happy times and I don’t want that to happen.

“I don’t want to be that sort of victim in their lives.”

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, assisted suicide is banned and can result in a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

Alongside Dame Esther, Bake Off judge Dame Prue Leith is also a long-standing campaigner on the issue of choice for terminally ill people, having witnessed her brother David die a painful death from bone cancer in 2012.

In May, the Great British Bake Off judge said at an event hosted by Dignity In Dying, for which she is a patron of, that MPs show “a lack of courage” and “harm” their constituents by not changing the law to legalise assisted dying.

Dame Esther said she was unsure if she would see her last birthday on June 22, so it has been “very unexpected” that she has made it to the Christmas period.

She added: “Anything can happen, I live in a forest, a tree can fall on me.

“I’ve got to drop off my perch for some reason, and I’m 83 damn it, so I should be jolly grateful and indeed am.”