IT’S EASY to get David and Jonathan Dimbleby mixed up. David, 72, is best known to Aussie TV audiences as the host of recent The Seven Ages of Britain. Younger brother Jonathan made his mark with 2008’s Russia with Jonathan Dimbleby.
Jonathan, 66, also made headlines when, in 2003, he left his wife of 35 years, Bel Mooney, to care for operatic soprano Susan Chilcott, who had breast cancer. In 2007 he married Jessica Ray and the couple have two children— Daisy, 3, and Gwendolen, 1.
Dimbleby is back on TV with An African Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby. What do you want to communicate to viewers with An African Journey? Africa is usually seen as a place of disaster, famine, war, corruption and vicious dictators. That’s not the whole story. I wanted to turn Africa on its head — to show that it’s very diverse, has an enormous amount Fresh look: Jonathan Dimbleby’s Africa Journey. of energy, talent and drive. It was time for a fresh look. Two things come through in the doco — your love of African music and the effect that mobile phones are having there . . . Yes to the music — how can you not dance when you’re in Africa? I hadn’t realised how pervasive the mobile phone is in Africa. It’s being used by people on low incomes to trade and move money around. The people are very entrepreneurial. It’s also having a huge effect on health. What’s your relationship like with David? Do you talk to him often? Yes. We go sailing, have dinner, run the same charity together. People think there must be a tremendous rivalry. I think we’re both senior citizens and it would be pathetic if there was rivalry. (That said) I certainly would not have wanted to work for my brother and can’t conceive of any circumstances in which my brother would be willing to work for me. You have a couple of young kids. What’s it like being a new father in your mid-60s? I’ve just taken Daisy to preschool. Jessica has just taken Gwendolen to her nursery. So I have to work — no retirement for me, mate. I don’t think one goes into life planning to have children at the age of 65. Of course you’re aware you’re not 35, however the responsibilities are the same and the delight is the same. Because you’re not competing to get to the top of the greasy pole you probably get to focus more on the wonder of childhood. Your docos are wildly ambitious. Howdo they come about? In the case of Africa, it was something I wanted to do. I went to the BBC and they commissioned it. An African Journey with Jonathan Dimbleby, ABC1, Tuesday, 8.30pm