Jonathan Dimbleby

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Jonathan Dimbleby (born 31 July 1944, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire) is a British presenter of current affairs and political radio and television programmes, a political commentator and a writer. He is the son of Richard Dimbleby and younger brother of British TV presenter David Dimbleby.


Dimbleby was educated at Charterhouse School, a boys' independent school in Surrey. Later, he studied Farm Management at the Royal Agricultural College and graduated in 1965. He read Philosophy at University College London and graduated in 1969.[1]

He is an Honorary Fellow of UCL and in July 2008 was given an honorary degree by the University of Exeter.[2]

TV and radio career[edit]

Dimbleby began his career at the BBC in Bristol in 1969. In 1970 he joined The World at One as a reporter where he also presented The World This Weekend. In 1972 he joined ITV's flagship current affairs programme This Week. Over the following six years he reported from crises in many parts of the world. His coverage of the 1973 Ethiopian famine – The Unknown Famine – was followed by TV and radio appeals which raised a record sum nationally and internationally. His report (for which he won the SFTA Richard Dimbleby Award) contributed to the overthrow of the Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie.

In 1978 he wrote and presented the ITV series Jonathan Dimbleby in South America. In 1979 he joined Yorkshire Television where he wrote and presented three ITV network series – The Bomb (1979), The Eagle and The Bear, (1980) and The Cold War Game (1981). He also presented the ITV documentary series First Tuesday. In 1985 he joined TV-am as presenter of Jonathan Dimbleby on Sunday. In 1986 he returned to ITV as presenter of This Week.

In 1988 he joined the BBC to present the new flagship political programme On the Record (1988–93). Later, he wrote, presented and co-produced two documentary series, Charles: The Private Man, The Public Face (ITV 1994) and The Last Governor – the story of the last five years of British rule in Hong Kong (BBC 1, 1997). In Charles, the Prince of Wales admitted to his extra-marital relationship with the (then) Camilla Parker-Bowles.[3]

From 1995 he began to present ITV's new political programme, Jonathan Dimbleby (1995–2006). He also anchored ITV's general election coverage in 1997, 2001 and 2005. He wrote and presented Russia with Jonathan Dimbleby (BBC2 2008), An African Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby (2010), and A South American Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby (2011).

For BBC Radio 4 he has presented Any Questions? since 1987 and Any Answers? from 1988 to 2012.[4]

Other work[edit]

Dimbleby wanted to be a farmer when he left school and he worked on the Royal Farm, Windsor, and trained as a showjumper. For a number of years[when?] he ran an organic farm near Bath, Somerset. He is also Vice-President (former President) of the Soil Association. He wrote the forewords for "The Organic Directory: Your Guide to Buying Natural Foods" in 1999 and "The Origins of the Organic Movement" in 2001.

Dimbleby is president of Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). He is also Vice-President (and past President) of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and a trustee of Dimbleby Cancer Care. In addition, he is president of the South Hams Society.[5] He was Chair of Index on Censorship's Board of Trustees, until 2013 when he was succeeded by David Aaronovitch.[6]


Dimbleby is the son of the Second World War war correspondent Richard Dimbleby, who was later to become presenter of the BBC TV current affairs programme Panorama. He has an older brother, David Dimbleby, who is also a current affairs commentator and presenter of BBC programmes. Jonathan wrote a biography of his father in 1975.

For thirty-five years, Dimbleby was married to fellow author Bel Mooney. They have two adult children, Kitty, who works for the charity Help For Heroes and Daniel, a television producer. In 2003 he began a relationship with the operatic soprano Susan Chilcott, with whom he lived until her death from breast cancer three months later, in September 2003. The following year the Dimblebys announced their separation. In 2007 Dimbleby married secondly Jessica Ray, and they have two children, Daisy (born 2007) and Gwendolen (born 2009).[7]

Awards and honours[edit]

Writing and other activities[edit]

  • Richard Dimbleby: A Biography (1975)
  • The Palestinians (1978)
  • The Prince of Wales: A Biography (1994)
  • The Last Governor: Chris Patten and the Handover of Hong Kong (1997)
  • Russia: A Journey to the Heart of a Land and Its People (2008).
  • Destiny in the Desert: The Road to El Alamein (2012).


  1. ^ "Spotted: Alumni in the Public Eye". UCL Department of Philosophy. Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  2. ^ "Wednesday 11 July 2007 afternoon ceremony – Jonathan Dimbleby LLD". Exeter University. Retrieved 27 December 2010. 
  3. ^ Andrew Alderson "Prince vows to keep silent about his private life",, 25 March 2001.
  4. ^ "Jonathan Dimbleby hands Any Answers? baton to Anita Anand on Radio 4". BBC Media Centre. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012. 
  5. ^ [1] Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  6. ^ "Winners – Index Awards 2013, Index on Censorship, 21 March 2013.
  7. ^ "Jonathan Dimbleby to be a dad again at 64". Hello. 1 May 2009. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  8. ^ Felicity Capon (8 April 2013). "Keith Lowe awarded the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for history". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 

External links[edit]