Denise Robertson

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Denise Robertson
Denise Robertson (cropped).jpg
Robertson at Durham railway station in 2015
Born Margaret Denise Mary Broderick
9 June 1932
Sunderland, County Durham, England[1]
Died 31 March 2016 (aged 83)
Royal Marsden Hospital
London, England[2]
Cause of death Pancreatic cancer
Resting place Sunderland Minster
Nationality British
Occupation Writer, television broadcaster, agony aunt
Years active 1985–2016
Employer ITV
Known for Agony aunt role on This Morning
Spouse(s) Alexander Inkster "Alex" Robertson
(m. 1960–1972, his death)
John "Jack" Tomlin
(m. 1973–1995, his death)
Bryan Thubron
(m. 1997–2016; her death)
Children Mark Alexander Robertson (born 1962)

Denise Robertson MBE, DL (9 June 1932 – 31 March 2016) was a British writer and television broadcaster. She made her television debut as the presenter of the Junior Advice Line segment of the BBC's Breakfast Time programme in 1985, though is perhaps best known as the resident agony aunt on the ITV show This Morning from its first broadcast on 3 October 1988 until her death.[3] In the course of her career, she dealt with over 200,000 letters from viewers seeking advice.[4] In 2006 she was appointed as a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to broadcasting.[4]

Early life[edit]

Born Margaret Denise Mary Broderick on 9 June 1932 in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, she was the youngest of two daughters of Herbert Stanley (1889–1961) and Catherine Maud Broderick (née Cahill, 1896–1971).[1] Herbert ran a shipping business that failed before she was born. She attended Sunderland High School.[5][6]


Her first job was as a clerk at Sunderland Royal Infirmary. She then progressed to the position of medical secretary and later became a counsellor. She won a BBC competition to write a play and became an agony aunt on Metro Radio in Newcastle.[4] In addition to This Morning, Robertson briefly hosted her own television series Dear Denise in 2000.[7] She also featured as a love and relationships pundit on Dave Gorman's Important Astrology Experiment in 2002. She ran an advice website called and wrote a monthly column for national magazine, Candis. Robertson also made regular appearances on Channel 5's Big Brother's Bit on the Side.[7]

Personal life[edit]

She was twice widowed – she married Alexander Inkster "Alex" Robertson (1919–1972) in 1960 and they had a son Mark Alexander (born 1962).[8] Robertson died of lung cancer in 1972[7] and she married the father of her son's friends, John "Jack" Tomlin (1921–1995) a year later. Tomlin died of a stroke in 1995. She then married her childhood friend Bryan Thubron, in 1997.[9] She was a keen supporter of Sunderland A.F.C. and had worked with the University of Sunderland, appearing as guest speaker at graduation ceremonies. Robertson lived in East Boldon with her husband and dogs.[10] She had eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.


In 1998, Robertson was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham.[11] She was given the Freedom of the City of Sunderland in 2006 and appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Birthday Honours that year for "services to Broadcasting and to Charity".[12][13]


Robertson died on 31 March 2016, aged 83, at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London after being diagnosed in early 2016 with pancreatic cancer. She made the diagnosis public in February 2016 on the television show This Morning after being absent from her usual posting as agony aunt.[14] This Morning aired a special edition tribute programme on 1 April 2016. Her funeral took place on 13 April 2016 at Sunderland Minster and she was buried in Sunderland Cemetery.[citation needed]


Year Title Production company Role Notes
1985–86 Breakfast Time BBC Presenter Junior Advice Line segment
1988–2016 This Morning Granada Television/ITV Studios Agony aunt Until her death
1993 Robson's People Tyne Tees Television Episode 1.12 Interviewee
1993–94 Close to the Edge Granada Television Presenter All 11 episodes
1996 A Spark of Joy BBC Contributor Documentary on Catherine Cookson
1998 Modern Times BBC Contributor Episode 7.3 'Agony Aunts'
2000 Dear Denise Granada Television for ITV Presenter/expert
2002 Loose Women ITV Studios Panellist Episode 3.04, 3.16
2002 Dave Gorman's Important Astrology Experiment BBC Contributor All 6 episodes
2003 The Weakest Link BBC Contestant Episode 9 August 2003
2003 Little Friends Planet 24 for Channel 4 Guest appearance
2003 My Favourite Hymns Granada Television Subject Episode 2 November 2003 and episode 16 November 2003
2004 The Impressionable Jon Culshaw ITV Guest appearance Episode 1.6
2005 The Paul O'Grady Show Granada Television for ITV Interviewee Episode 2.48
2011, 2012 Loose Women ITV Studios Guest Episode 15.133, 16.097
2011–2016 Big Brother's Bit on the Side Channel 5 Panelist Multiple appearances



  1. ^ a b "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  2. ^ "Episode of 'This Morning'". ITV Studios. STV. Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 1 April 2016. 
  3. ^ " Denise also appears on Celebrity Big Brother and Big Brother Bit on the Side.Denise Robertson", Retrieved 15 November 2013
  4. ^ a b c Denise Robertson Obituary in The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 April 2016
  5. ^ Remembering 130 years of Sunderland High School at Sunderland Echo. Retrieved 1 April 2016
  6. ^ Meeting About Historic Sunderland School at St Helens Reporter. Retrieved 3 April 2016
  7. ^ a b c This Morning agony aunt Denise Robertson dies
  8. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  9. ^ Laura Jackson (30 August 2007). "Debt, death, depression – in my life i've suffered all of them". Daily Express. 
  10. ^ Tim Oglethorpe (31 January 2014). "My haven: Denise Robertson, the agony aunt on ITV's This Morning, 81, in the sitting room of her Cumbrian lodge". Daily Mail. 
  11. ^ "No. 55068". The London Gazette. 12 March 1998. p. 2912. 
  12. ^ "Roll of honorary freemen". Sunderland City Council. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015. 
  13. ^ "No. 58014". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2006. p. 21. 
  14. ^ Agius, Nicola. "This Morning agony aunt Denise Robertson has died aged 83 from pancreatic cancer". mirror. Retrieved 1 April 2016. 

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