Jonathan Dimbleby

Jonathan Dimbleby
Jonathan Dimbleby.JPG
Dimbleby at a charity event in support of Book Aid International in 2016
Born (1944-07-31) 31 July 1944 (age 76)
Nationality British
Alma mater Royal Agricultural College
University College, London
Occupation Writer, broadcaster
Years active 1969–present
m. 1968; div. 2003)

Jessica Ray
m. 2007)
Children 4
Parent(s) Richard Dimbleby
Dilys Thomas
Relatives Dimbleby family

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


Dimbleby was educated at Charterhouse, a boys' independent school in Surrey. Later, he studied Farm Management at the Royal Agricultural College and graduated in 1965. He then studied philosophy at University College, London, where he was editor of the student newspaper Pi, and graduated in 1970. He was later elected an Honorary Fellow but resigned in 2015 in protest at the dismissal of Professor Emeritus Tim Hunt. In July 2007 he received an honorary degree from the University of Exeter.[1]

TV and radio career

Dimbleby presenting an Any Questions? broadcast on 15 January 2016 at the Nexus Methodist Church, Bath, during the church's 200th anniversary year
Dimbleby presenting a World Question broadcast from Budapest

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 and over the following six years reported on crises in many parts of the world. One of his first programmes covered Idi Amin's expulsion of Asians from Uganda and adopted a broadly supportive approach to Amins purported reasons for the expulsion.[2] 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.[3]

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). He wrote, presented and co-produced two documentary series; The Last Governor (BBC1 1997) about the final five years of British rule in Hong Kong and Charles: The Private Man, The Public Face (ITV 1994) in which Prince Charles spoke about his first marriage and his relationship with Camilla Parker Bowles,[4] now his wife and the Duchess of Cornwall.

From 1994 to 2006 he presented ITV's political programme, Jonathan Dimbleby. He 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). In 2013 he wrote and presented Churchill's Desert War (BBC2) based on his book, Destiny in The Desert. In 2015 he wrote and presented the 2-part series The BBC At War (BBC 2).

From 1987 to June 2019 he presented Any Questions? on BBC Radio 4. He presented Any Answers? from 1989 to 2012.[5][6] In 2016 he became the main presenter of the BBC World Service monthly series World Questions.

In April 2020, Dimbleby will present the ITV series Return to Belsen with Jonathan Dimbleby about the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

Other work

Dimbleby wanted to be a farmer when he left school and worked on the Royal Farm, Windsor, and trained as a professional showjumper. From 1993 until 2004 he ran an organic farm near Bath, Somerset.

He is a past-president of Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), past President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), past President of the Soil Association and a past President of the RSPB. He chairs Dimbleby Cancer Care, the charity established in 1966 in memory of his father. He was Chairman of Index on Censorship's Board of Trustees from 2008 until 2013 when he was succeeded by David Aaronovitch.[7]


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.

Dimbleby married the author, journalist and broadcaster Bel Mooney in 1968.[5] The couple have two children; their daughter Kitty, a journalist, and Daniel, a television producer. They divorced in 2006.[5] In 2003 Dimbleby began a relationship with the soprano Susan Chilcott, with whom he lived until her death from breast cancer in September 2003.[8] In 2007 Dimbleby married Jessica Ray. They have two daughters. They live in Bristol.

Awards and honours

1996 Sony Radio Award for BBC Radio 4's Any Questions programme

Writing and other activities

  • 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).
  • The Battle of the Atlantic: How the Allies Won the War (2015)


  1. ^ "Wednesday 11 July 2007 afternoon ceremony – Jonathan Dimbleby LLD". Exeter University. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  2. ^ Youtube Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Alexander De Waal (1991), Evil Days: Thirty Years of War and Famine in Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch, p. 58, ISBN 9781564320384
  4. ^ Andrew Alderson "Prince vows to keep silent about his private life",, 25 March 2001.
  5. ^ a b c d "DIMBLEBY, Jonathan". Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  6. ^ "Jonathan Dimbleby hands Any Answers? baton to Anita Anand on Radio 4". BBC Media Centre. 23 May 2012. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
  7. ^ "Winners – Index Awards 2013, Index on Censorship, 21 March 2013.
  8. ^ Richard Alleyne (21 April 2008). "Jonathan Dimbleby on his marriage break-up". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 March 2016.
  9. ^ Felicity Capon (8 April 2013). "Keith Lowe awarded the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for history". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 June 2014.

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