From Claire Rayner to Dear Deirdre: Britain's Top 5 Agony Aunts

Yesterday Claire Rayner's family held a memorial service to the great women herself. Here's our tribute to Britain's top 5 unflappable agony aunts.
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Hello dearie. Got piles? Sexual problems? Not sure how to tell the guy who sits next to you in the office that he's got B.O? Don't bother the overstretched NHS by throwing yourself off a bridge or taking an attention-seeking overdose of paracetamol – crack open that Basildon Bond and write to a good old-fashioned agony aunt, instead. Here's your guide to Britain’s finest:

1. Claire Rayner

Claire 'will you do that for me, lovey?' Rayner was the queen of all the agony aunts, a kick-ass Jewish matriarch who wouldn't even flinch if you talked about felching. ('FELCH!' you could yell, and Claire would just smile sweetly and give you a nice leaflet on how to do it safely.) Despite looking like an overstuffed chintz pouffe, she was au fait with more deviant sexual peccadillos than you could imagine, and never judged you if you had 'accidentally' inserted a black pudding up your rectum. She even managed to insult David Cameron on her deathbed. RIP Claire, you were the best.

2. Denise Robertson

A poor imitation of Claire, Denise has been This Morning's agony aunt since Richard Madeley's champagne shoplifting days. A squinting, gelatinous Barbara Cartland lookalike, Denise oozes so much empathy that the studio has to be hosed down when she leaves. Hailing from Tyneside, Denise's catchphrase is 'doooooon't worry,' said in a soft, reassuring Sunderland burr. When she shuffles off this mortal coil, Denise's most likely successor will be Cheryl Cole. Or a Troll doll.

"Rayner was the queen of the agony aunts, a kick-ass Jewish matriarch who wouldn't flinch if you talked about felching. ('FELCH!' you could yell, and Claire would just smile and give you a leaflet on how to do it safely.)"

3. Vanessa Feltz

Feltz might come across like an enormous, barking mad foil-wrapped Chocolate Orange, but if you've caught an STD from 6 blokes then she's the gal who can help. Boyfriend wants to try a threesome but you don't? Kick him to the kerb! Want to spice up your sex life? Why not wear rubber and tantalize him with a feather duster and a leg of lamb? Nothing seems to shock the Feltz, as demonstrated by her entire career. And by the look on her face, if she hasn't done it herself, she'll be doing it later on (after she's eaten 12 chocolate eclairs and a family sized bag of Doritos, that is).

4. Dear Deirdre

If you're in a racy love triangle with someone from work, and you've been caught in flagrante on the desk wearing some suspenders, then the Sun's Deirdre Sanders is for you. Deirdre has the grubbiest mailbag in Britain, answering colourful queries from the UK’s skankiest skanks about getting their sisters pregnant and the logistics of having sex in a skip behind Aldi. In Deirdre's world, a problem shared (and posed by 'models' in a crap Jackie-style photostory) is a problem halved.

5. Mariella Frostrup

Oh, smoky voiced Mariella, with your Converse and casual, yet wise pose. You’re the fabulous, insightful BFF we’d all love to have, dispensing relationship advice over a bottle of Sancerre as we cry about shagging our best friend’s husband that time at the beach house in Cornwall. Mariella is Taste The Difference to Dear Deirdre’s Basics range, dealing with deep-seated psychological difficulties as well as plain amoral behaviour. Still, just this once it’d be nice to see her tackle a letter which starts: Dear Mariella – I were out dogging in Rotherham and I’ve got the clap – what do I do?’

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