WOMAN’S Hour presenter Jenni Murray had her audience roaring with laughter, wiping away tears and bursting into spontaneous applause at the Arts Centre last night.

Jenni, who has presented the Radio 4 show since 1987, was there to talk about her autobiography, Memoirs of a Not So Dutiful Daughter - a pun on French feminist Simone de Beauvoir’s Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter.

From tales of how her “pushy” mother sent her off to elecution lessons to rid her of her Barnsley accent to the poignant tale of an early 1960s visit to Auschwitz with her half-Jewish father, Jenni had her audience - not wholly made up of women - captivated.

Her book tackles a number of issues, including the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship, the changing experience of women through the generations and the loss of her parents within months of each other, as well has her own battle with breast cancer.

It’s not just about memories - it’s about breaking down taboos, such as perceptions surrounding cancer, and making important political points, such as challenging the poor standard of care today’s society offers the elderly.

Speaking about her mother, who had Parkinson’s disease, having to be put in a home, she said: “My mother’s treatment was appalling. It wasn’t enough, it was inadequate – and it cost an awful lot of money.”

Her mother died the same day that Jenni, who turns 60 next week, was diagnosed with breast cancer – and with typical guts, she said: “It was a tremendous relief that I didn’t have to tell her.”

Her candid and warm approach to some difficult issues had the audience murmuring their agreement throughout her talk. One point which hit home with many women in the audience was when Jenni said the most difficult part of having cancer was losing her hair.

“People says that’s so trivial,” she said. “And it’s absolutely not trivial.”

As Jenni herself said, Woman’s Hour tackles everything from high politics to knitting, which is why it is such a success.

And her talk to last night’s audience did exactly the same, tackling everything from how not to corpse on live radio to her attitude to living with cancer.

“I don’t intend to die any time soon - I hope!” she said. Damn right, Jenni.

Gill Harris