Friday 28 October 2016

Jonathan Dimbleby reveals childhood unease at his father Richard's fame

Published 09/08/2016 | 00:06

Richard Dimbleby's fame was troubling to his son Jonathan
Richard Dimbleby's fame was troubling to his son Jonathan

Jonathan Dimbleby has spoken of the embarrassment he felt over his father Richard's fame when he was a child.

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The radio and TV broadcaster told Radio Times of a time he felt mortified when his famous parent was spotted during an outing to the theatre.

He said: "Once, when I was about 10 years old, we went to see Arthur Askey in pantomime. Suddenly, a searchlight shone on us. Askey said something like: 'It's Richard Dimbleby. Let's give him a big welcome!' My father was required to stand up and wave."

He confessed that he "shrank down" in his seat as his father became the centre of attention during the production.

Jonathan, 72, added: "People would come up to my father in the street, take hold of his sleeve, and say, 'Just touching you for luck, Richard'. Or we'd go into a restaurant and the restaurateur would refuse to let us pay."

He went on to praise his father, saying: "I don't know of any public figure in the serious end of radio or television today who is anything like as well known as he was."

The younger brother of Question Time host David Dimbleby is to tell the life story of their father on BBC Radio 4's Archive On 4 this week, in a programme entitled Dimbleby On Dimbleby.

It will coincide with the 50th anniversary of Richard's memorial service at Westminster Abbey, a landmark moment that saw him become the first journalist to ever be honoured at the cathedral.

Richard was the BBC's first ever war correspondent and a household name during his reign as the corporation's leading news commentator.

Jonathan, who presents BBC Radio 4's Any Questions?, added that his father, who died in 1965 at age 52, was "surprised" at how successful he was and the "esteem" in which he was held by the British public.

:: Read the full interview in this week's issue of Radio Times

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