Sunday, June 05, 2005

David Dimbleby’s bladder

Some broadcasters are so bland and inoffensive that it’s offensive. Nick Ross is one such. I remember a magazine article that featured photographs of celebrities as children and invited you to guess who they grew up to become. It was somehow inevitable that the young Nick Ross should look exactly like the older Nick Ross.

Two more such creatures are the Dimblebys. The first part of David Dimbleby’s new series A Picture of Britain, which looks at British landscape and its effect on British painting and other arts, was shown on BBC1 this evening.

Inevitably the pictures were beautiful, though when you see clouds racing over an otherwise still landscape for the tenth time it ceases to impress. And there was someone with a terribly literal mind at work too. When Dimbleby mentioned Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush swelled up on the soundtrack at once. Yorkshire as a whole was introduced by a brass band. Playing “On Ilkley Moor Baht ’At”. On Ilkley Moor.

What was most striking, though, was an extract from David Dimbleby’s first television film. He made it with his younger brother Jonathan. At the age of 17.

No doubt it does your career little harm if your father is the most famous broadcaster in the land,* but this film crystallised what is objectionable about David Dimbleby. He is a public school boy of no great imagination or ability, projected on to the national stage by television fame and family connections.

Though his performance on election night this year was not his worst, his occasional misunderstanding of the statistics or miscalling of results reveal someone with no great passion for psephology. You feel he would be just as happy covering ballroom dancing or show jumping.

It has been suggested to me that Dimbleby has made election night his own because he possesses a bladder of iron and has no need to nip away from the camera in the small hours. If so, this lucky heredity may be the real reason the Dimbleby family has made our state occasions its own.

It’s not talent. It’s not nepotism. It’s urology.

* In his latest diary Lord Bonkers suggests that Richard Dimbleby “commentated upon every state occasion from the launch of the Queen Mary to the conception of Princess Anne”.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Dimbleby whilst interviewing Boris Johnson on Thursday night you sounded doubtful that immigration was a problem, when clearly it is. Boris Johnson wavered around the answer because of his position when everyone knows there are far too many immigrants in this country.

Jonathan Calder said...

I am afraid that David Dimbleby does not write this blog. I suspect it wouldn't be half so entertaining if he did.