Saturday, 19 November 2011

Friend for Friday: Jonathan Dimbleby

Apologies for the late blog post - the Jourknow has, as ever, been busy writing articles and voicing his opinions, as well as drinking a few to many tipples at the local grazing ground last night!

However, he is proud to be able to introduce his new Friday feature: Friend for Friday. Each Friday the Jourknow will post an interview with a new "friend". With celebrities, sportsman, politicians, community heroes and the general public all lined-up, the feature promises to be a firm-favourite by readers.

It gives me great pleasure to introduce my first friend of the week, the respected broadcaster and journalist Jonathan Dimbleby. After studying his father in my recent history studies, it seems rather fitting to share this with you. The interview was taken just under a year ago.

A renowned political and current affairs broadcaster and presenter who has chaired Any Questions? every Friday evening since 1987, along with fronting political coverage for ITV and the BBC. We caught up on his views of Britain, the young and his family.

Tuition fees, university cuts and student riots were a big part of tonight’s debate; what are your feelings on the future for students in our current society?
It is terrible. The young people of Britain, if not the world, are our future! It is an outrage for students that they are the ones who will have to sort out our country's problems in the future. Whether it is the environment, economic mess or over-consumption it is my generation's fault - yet the younger generation’s problem. I worry what the future will hold for my young daughter (1 year of age) in 20 or so years time. It does not help that times are uncertain, even if cuts to university tuition fees are certain.

Do you think that the young are misrepresented then?
Oh yes, almost certainly. Whether the media blame them for binge drinking or the rising gang culture kids and teenagers are part of, they're always in the press for something negative. Yet it is this country that is taking the lives and happiness away from children, and with cuts to higher education it is not hard to realise that the problem for children is only going to get worse.

What would you suggest needs to happen in order for teenagers and kids to get a ‘better deal’ in society?
Well, a change in values is definitely needed. We need to stop looking at the negatives and think positive. Children are our future and therefore we should protect and nourish them. Although the higher education cuts are inevitable, along with cuts to child benefit, there is a future for children if we act now. The glass is half-full for kids, let us not make it empty for them!

Speaking of children and family, yours is very important to you. Do they take an interest in your work, or even in politics?
Yes, I am very proud of my family. I have four kids, the eldest being 38 and the youngest being 1! Obviously, the youngest has no idea what ‘Daddy’ does, however my youngest son (3 years) listens to the radio and says ‘Daddy’ every time he hears me, which is a delight to hear. My eldest son has also followed a similar family route to me, being part of media and television production.

The Dimbleby family have made a big presence in the political world - particularly your father Richard and brother David.
Yes, they have. Its family tradition I guess! My father Richard was one of the first political reporters and news presenters on television and, of course, my brother has and still does present various political shows for the BBC.

Mentioning your brother David, you both present similar shows (David Dimbleby anchors Question Time on the BBC); one on the radio and one on TV. Is there, would you say, healthy competition or an edge of competitiveness between you two?
(Laughs) Well, no, there isn’t. At one time, I was heading the ITV coverage of the General Election (2005) and my brother was the face of the BBC’s coverage. The media consistently covered our so-called competitiveness, suggesting we were ‘brothers at war’. However, it was all false. It was more fighting between the institutions rather than us. After the evening broadcast, we would meet up and have a drink and laugh about the constant headlines - but the tabloids never picked up on this!

Finally, you have hosted Any Questions since 1987; is there a favourite location and panellist that you remember from over the years?
Gosh, that is a tricky question. I mean, there are so many locations and panellists that it would be hard for me to pick out my favourite one. To be perfectly honest, my favourite panellists are those who speak their mind. The three traits, you could call it, for my perfect panellist is someone who is original, thoughtful and lively. That way they not only entertain audience, but the listeners and me too!

Interviewed by Kieran Watkins

Picture Courtesy of

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