Denise Robertson

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Denise Robertson
Robertson at Durham railway station in November 2015
Margaret Denise Mary Broderick

(1932-06-09)9 June 1932
Sunderland, County Durham, England[1]
Died31 March 2016(2016-03-31) (aged 83)
Resting placeSunderland Cemetery
Occupation(s)Writer, television broadcaster, agony aunt
Years active1985–2016
Known forAgony aunt role on This Morning
  • Alexander Inkster "Alex" Robertson (m. 1960–1972, his death)
  • John "Jack" Tomlin (m. 1973–1995, his death)
  • Bryan Thubron (m. 1997–2016; her death)

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 she is 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, County Durham, she was the youngest of two daughters of Herbert Stanley (1889–1961) and Catherine Maud Broderick (née Cahill, 1896–1970).[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]

Robertson was twice widowed; she married Alexander Inkster "Alex" Robertson (1919–1972) in 1960 and they had a son Mark Alexander (born 1962).[8] Alexander Robertson died of lung cancer in 1972.[7] In 1973, she married John "Jack" Tomlin (1921–1995); he died of a stroke in 1995.[citation needed]

She then married her childhood friend Bryan Thubron in 1997.[9] Robertson was a keen supporter of Sunderland A.F.C.[10] and had worked with the University of Sunderland, appearing as guest speaker at graduation ceremonies. She lived in East Boldon, Sunderland.[11]


In 1998, Robertson was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of County Durham.[12] 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".[13][14]


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.[15] 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 in Grangetown.[16]


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


  • Don't Cry Aloud Hopcyn Press 2015 ISBN 9780992893323
  • Winds of War Little Books 2009 ISBN 9781906264079
  • None To Make You Cry Little Books 2009 ISBN 9781906264062
  • The Promise Little Books 2008 ISBN 9781904435976
  • The Second Wife Little Books 2008 ISBN 9781904435952
  • Agony? Don't Get Me Started... Autobiography Max Press 2006 ISBN 9781904435846
  • The Bad Sister Little Books 2005 ISBN 9781904435426
  • Relax It's Only a Baby Little Books 2005 ISBN 9781904435464
  • Men Are From Earth. Women Are From Earth.: Deal with It! Little Books 2005 ISBN 9781904435327
  • Sir Tom Cowie, A True Entrepreneur: A Biography University of Sunderland 2004 ISBN 9781873757840
  • A Relative Freedom ISBN 9781904435853
  • Wait For the Day ISBN 9781904435556
  • The Beloved People (Belgate Trilogy 1) 2004 ISBN 978190443534-1
  • Strength for the Morning (Belgate Trilogy 2) 2004 ISBN 9781904435358
  • Towards Jerusalem (Belgate Trilogy 3) 2005 ISBN 9781904435372
  • A Year of Winter 1986 ISBN 9780094672307
  • The Land of Lost Content 1985 ISBN 9780094664401
  • Blue Remembered Hills 1987 ISBN 9780753102473


  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 "Agony aunt Denise Robertson dies". 1 April 2016 – via
  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. ^ Meechan, Simon (14 April 2016). "The augony aunt's n". ChronicleLive.
  11. ^ "Denise Robertson: funeral details announced for Sunderland agony aunt". Retrieved 4 March 2021.
  12. ^ "No. 55068". The London Gazette. 12 March 1998. p. 2912.
  13. ^ "Roll of honorary freemen". Sunderland City Council. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 4 November 2015.
  14. ^ "No. 58014". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2006. p. 21.
  15. ^ Agius, Nicola (April 2016). "This Morning agony aunt Denise Robertson has died aged 83 from pancreatic cancer". mirror. Retrieved 1 April 2016.
  16. ^ Thompson, Fiona (14 April 2016). "Tears for our 'lass from the telly'". Sunderland Echo. Retrieved 4 March 2021.

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