No, we haven’t met, but in terms of revered and markedly successful British families of my lifetime, the Dimblebys are right up there. Father Richard was the most famous TV broadcaster of his generation (1950s-mid 1960s), two of his sons, David and Jonathan, have made their careers in journalism and broadcasting likewise, David’s first wife Josceline is a top cookery writer, and one of their sons, Henry, is a chef and co-founded the fast food chain, Leon.
David, born in 1938 and 84 years old as I write this, has spent a professional lifetime in front of the TV cameras and most recently has fronted a series about the “Days That Shook the BBC”, together with presenting part of HM Queen Elizabeth’s funeral proceedings. Quite an accolade when you keep getting the calls at the wrong side of 80. He benefits from good health and retains his pin-sharp and forensic view on life – an example to us all. He is admired by all for his professionalism and objectivity.
He was interviewed for the Times by Decca Aitkenhead at the beginning of October 2022* – – and I was delighted and surprised to find a kindred spirit in a number of things that he said, apart from the bit about resorting to roll-ups in later life.
Following Dad’s Footsteps – I too followed my Dad into the same company – ‘it seemed the natural thing to do’ – with all of the benefits and disadvantages that this brings
No Social Life (and not because he’s so busy). In spite of knowing a lot of people, there are only a very few he could count as real friends. Yes, that’s me too – but it’s not an issue for either of us, it’s just how it is.
A Quiet Family Life. I enjoy the company of all parts of my greater family, and doing this quietly – walking, talking, eating etc. And we don’t need to see each other every week either….
Sitting on the Outside. Particularly in relation to family gatherings, I like looking and listening without feeling the need to play Father of the Clan. I’m more inclined to have one-on-one chats with those on the edge of the jollity – that appeals to me so much more
Voting. He claims to have voted for the three main political parties at different times. Same here – when their policies chimed with my own needs and aspirations
Deference. He doesn’t like or see the need for bowing and scraping when confronted by famous people/Royalty etc, or in fact treating anyone any differently to anyone else. He will have had a thousand percent more opportunities to meet the great and the good than I, but it’s quite obvious in his demeanour on TV, that he isn’t cowed by anyone. Good for him. I have met many captains of industry over the years, and from my experience they delight in being normal and not standing on ceremony. I remember talking football over lunch with legendary conductor David Temple MBE. He thought this brilliant, as so often his usual lunchtime experiences seemed to revolve around choral music.
The lives of David Dimbleby and I have followed very different courses, but if I reach 84 years old with his recall, intelligence, wit and demeanour, I shall be a very happy man.