28 October 1938 |
Surrey, England, United Kingdom
|Occupation||Television presenter, journalist|
David Dimbleby (born 28 October 1938) is a British BBC TV commentator and a presenter of current affairs and political programmes, now best known for the BBC's long running Question Time television series. He is the son of Richard Dimbleby and elder brother of Jonathan Dimbleby. Long involved in the coverage of national events, Dimbleby has anchored the BBC's coverage of every general election since 1979. He has also presented and narrated documentary series on architecture and history.
Early life 
Dimbleby was born in Surrey and educated at two independent schools, the then Glengorse School in Battle, East Sussex, and Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey (where he was a contemporary of journalist Adam Raphael). The younger Dimblebys made their television debuts in the BBC's first holiday travelogue programme Passport in the 1950s, when the entire family would visit locations in Switzerland or Brittany, for example. Several episodes of this series and the UK-based variant No Passport survive in the BBC and BFI archives.
After learning French in Paris and Italian in Perugia, he read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Christ Church, Oxford and graduated with a third-class honours degree. While at Oxford he was President of the Christ Church JCR, a member of the Bullingdon Club – a socially exclusive student dining and binge drinking society – and editor of the student magazine, Isis.
Dimbleby joined the BBC as a news reporter in Bristol in the 1960s and has appeared in news programmes since 1962, early on co-presenting the televised version of the school quiz Top of the Form. An incident in 1969 led to Dimbleby, then freelance, being called in by the BBC's Director of Television. During President Richard Nixon's visit to Britain, a reference by Dimbleby to UK and US government heads' "'expensively hired" press secretaries "whose job is to disguise the truth" was given much attention by the British press. Dimbleby was one of 70 signatories to the advertisement advocating the decriminalisation of cannabis use, written by campaigner Stephen Abrams, which appeared in The Times on 24 July 1967.
He became involved in a number of projects that combined his established role as presenter and interviewer with documentary making. An early example of this was Yesterday's Men (1971), a film held to have ridiculed the Labour opposition and led to a major conflict between the BBC and the Labour Party; Dimbleby had his name removed from the credits for concessions that were made. In 1974, he became the presenter of Panorama, which had been presented by his father.
In 1980, he appeared in an episode of comedy show The Goodies as "David Dimbumblum" in which he parodied himself, after being caught on camera during the 1979 election night coverage eating a sandwich, by carving and eating a roast turkey during an election parody. The 1979 General Election Night results programme for the BBC was the first to be anchored by Dimbleby, and he has continued in this role for the next seven general elections. He is also seen on BBC Budget specials, and was a presenter of the BBC early evening weekday current affairs series Nationwide, on which he famously addressed Paddy Ashdown as "Panty Ashdown". During the same period (beginning in 1979), Dimbleby has also been the anchor for the BBC's European Elections results programmes and in 2008 and 2012 anchored the BBC's coverage of the US Election night.
Dimbleby was the main presenter of the BBC's political series This Week Next Week (1984-88), broadcast on Sunday early afternoons, as a competitor to ITV's established Weekend World series. This Week Next Week was replaced in 1988 by the On the Record, a political series presented until 1993 by his younger brother, Jonathan Dimbleby. Meanwhile, he continued to work in documentaries, including The White Tribe of Africa (1979), an award-winning four-part history of South Africa's Afrikaans community and the rise of apartheid, An Ocean Apart (1988), an examination of the history of Anglo-American relations, and Rebellion! (1999), a history of Britain's troubled relations with Zimbabwe).
Since 1994, David Dimbleby has been chairman of Question Time, the BBC's Thursday evening topical debate programme. This is the role in which he is now best known. One of the most memorable moments from Question Time was when Dimbleby accidentally referred to Robin Cook as "Robin Cock", to which Cook responded by jokingly referring to Dimbleby as "David Bumblebee".
Dimbleby has also covered outside broadcast events of national importance, such as the State Opening of Parliament, the Trooping the Colour, the Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, and In 1999, he opened BBC 2000 Today, the BBC's coverage of the millennium celebrations, from Greenwich, England. He commentated on the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997 and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 2002, and the state visit of U.S. President George W. Bush to Britain the following year. In 2002, Dimbleby hosted the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II coverage. A profile by Ben Summerskill for The Observer in 2001 quoted an unnamed former Cabinet Minister who had observed Dimbleby's career for many decades: "I suspect he has an almost medieval view, that the Queen governs through Parliament... There are a few quarrels among the subjects - over which he presides very capably - but they have very little to do with what Britain is really about."
There were reports in 2004 that Dimbleby was shortlisted for the Chairmanship of the BBC. However, the position was eventually awarded to Michael Grade. As early as 1987, he was a contender for the position of Director General of the BBC (losing out to Michael Checkland) and for the chairmanship in the Corporation's tumultuous period following 2001, which went to Gavyn Davies. He has instead remained, according to Mark Duguid for the BFI's screenonline website, best known for his "gravitas, journalistic integrity and consummate professionalism" and as "a paragon of impartiality" as a narrator and moderator, of British politics. He remains outspoken about the Corporation he has served for much of his life.
In 2005, he hosted a BBC One series, A Picture of Britain, celebrating British and Irish paintings, poetry, music, and landscapes. In June 2007 he wrote and presented a follow-up, the BBC series, How We Built Britain, in which he explored the history of British architecture by visiting a region of Britain and its historic buildings each week. David Dimbleby has, as of February 2010, recently started to present a new series on BBC One, Seven Ages of Britain. In early editions of the programme, he has looked at the Bayeux Tapestry and exhibits to do with Thomas Becket.
On 12 November 2009, Dimbleby missed his first Question Time in over 15 years, having been taken to hospital as a precaution after being briefly knocked out by a rearing bullock at his farm in Sussex.
Dimbleby hosted the third of three televised election debates featuring the leaders of the three main political parties held in the run up to the 2010 general election. On the night of the 2010 Election, Dimbleby hosted the BBC coverage, along with Jeremy Vine, Jeremy Paxman, Nick Robinson, and Emily Maitlis. Presenting from a specially built set in BBC Television Centre Studio 1, he was an anchor and involved commentary contributions, guest interviews, and introducing live outside broadcasts. He presented the election in 2010 for 18 hours.
Family and honours 
He is the son of the World War II war correspondent Richard Dimbleby and Dilys (née Thomas, from Wales) elder brother of Jonathan Dimbleby, also a current affairs commentator and presenter of both BBC and ITV programmes. David Dimbleby was chairman of the Dimbleby Newspaper Group, former publishers of the Richmond and Twickenham Times, acquired by the Newsquest Media Group in 2001 for a reported £12 million.
Despite the brothers presenting election coverage on competing channels, when asked in an interview about rival ITV's plans to include a riverboat party with the likes of Kevin Spacey and Richard Branson in their broadcast, David Dimbleby commented "They've got Jonathan Dimbleby, what do they need Kevin Spacey for?"
Dimbleby has three children by his first wife, Josceline Dimbleby, a cookery writer: Liza, an artist; Henry, now a chef and co-founder of the healthy fast food chain Leon; and Kate, a jazz and folk singer. Henry Dimbleby had a brief television career in a BBC TV adaptation of Arthur Ransome's children's novels Coot Club and The Big Six.
In 2000 Dimbleby married Belinda Giles, a granddaughter of Herbrand Sackville, 9th Earl De La Warr. They have one son, Fred. Dimbleby lives in Polegate, East Sussex with a second home in Dartmouth, Devon.
- Zoe Williasms "When Newsnight got a wife", The Guardian, 3 April 2010
- GRO Register of Births: MAR 1938 2a 180 SURREY NE - David Dimbleby, mmn = Thomas
- "Battle Abbey School". Retrieved 10 February 2008.
- Ben Summerskill "“The Observer Profile: David Dimbleby - Auntie's favourite”, The Observer, 19 August 2001
- Jonathon Green All Dressed Up: The Counterculture and the Sixties, London: Pimlico ed., 1999, p.181-84
- Dina Rabinovitch, Emily Green and Andrew Brown "Twenty-five years gone up in smoke", The Independent, 22 July 1992. The surname of the first named author is misspelled on the web page.
- "Yesterday's Men 1971", The BBC Story (BBC website)
- "Politics". The Goodies. Season 8. Episode 1. 14 January 1980. BBC. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0591016.
- Mark Duguid "Dimbleby, David (1938-)", BFI screenonline
- "Jonathan Dimbleby Esq", Debretts
- Sherwin, Adam; Snoddy, Raymond (13 March 2004). "Headhunters look outside the box for Dyke successor". The Times (London). Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Matt Wells "Dimbleby 'shortlisted' for top BBC post", The Guardian, 10 August 2001
- "David Dimbleby injured by bullock". BBC News. 12 November 2009. Archived from the original on 12 November 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2009.
- "Brown to face three televised election debates". BBC News Online. 2009-12-21. Retrieved 2009-12-21.
- "BBC News Article - BBC Election Coverage 2010". 6 May 2010.
- "Dimbleby, 71, up for 18 hours as BBC's General Election coverage goes into extra time", Daily Mail, 8 May 2010.
- Barratt, Nick (3 February 2007). "Family detective". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- David Teather "Dimbleby sells his newspapers", The Guardian, 10 April 2001
- David Rowan: Interview: David Dimbleby, BBC Question Time (Evening Standard)
- "Observations' One To Watch: Kate Dimbleby, Singer, 39", The Independent, 25 August 2012
- thePeerage.com - Person Page 19622
- David Dimbleby misses Question Time for first time in 15 years - after being knocked out by wife's bullock - Daily Mail
- BBC - Press Office - How We Built Britain: Programme Six Modern South
- Stamp, Rory (2009 Spring). "Anchor man". The Lifeboat 587: 46–7.
- Honorary Graduates of the University of Essex, UK
- Institute for Citizenship - Trustees
- David Dimbleby at the Internet Movie Database
- David Dimbleby at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
|Regular Host of Question Time
|Host of BBC Election Night Coverage