The departure of Jonathan Dimbleby from Any Questions? is sad for me. I first listened to the programme when the chairman was Freddie Grisewood, and first appeared on it under the over-emollient David Jacobs. Then I served under the likeable but somehow underpowered John Timpson. Since 1987, I have appeared under Jonathan. He is the master of all subjects, and much more genial than his interrogative manner suggests. I have never known him seem bored on air, although, over more than 30 years, he must often have been.
Jonathan’s Achilles heel, I discovered quite early on, is the BBC. If you criticise it on air, he gets slightly trembly, casts aside his otherwise impeccable impartiality and tries to put you down. This in turn provokes me, so I make sure to attack the corporation every time I go on the programme. It is sad that the organisation to which he has shown such loyalty is now shedding the values for which the Dimbleby dynasty stands. These include a high standard of knowledge, a carefully achieved balance between courtesy and challenge, and complete clarity of diction. None of these values is compatible with a culture in which ‘diversity’ conquers all.
This article is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, available in this week’s magazine.