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Tag Archives: El Alamein

How Dimbleby found vivid accounts of World War II desert campaign in his war correspondent father’s diaries

Jonathan Dimbleby says his father’s diaries, written when he was broadcasting from the Middle East during World War II provided vivid background material for his latest book on the British victory at El Alamein.

Jonathan Dimbleby

A pioneering giant of broadcasting, Jonathan’s dad Richard Dimbleby brought news of the campaign to the ears of anxious listeners back in the UK.

He reported for the BBC from not only  El Alamein but the Normandy beaches during the D-Day Landings and also broadcast the first shocking reports from the newly liberated Belsen death camp.

Jonathan, who will talk about his book, Destiny in the Desert at the Ludlow Assembly Rooms tomorrow night (Wednesday November 28)  and at the Malvern Festival Theatre on Thursday (November 29), says the timet Richard Dimbleby spent as BBC war correspondent in the Middle East yielded some valuable first-hand accounts of the battle.

“He described the desert conflict very vivdly in his diaries, which I came across when I was writing a biography about him. He didn’t talk about it at all. He was from the generation that wanted to move on,” Jonathan told Andy Richardson of the Shropshire Star newspaper.

Writing the  book, which is published to mark the 70th anniversary of El Alamein, was no easy task. He wanted to give an accurate and insightful account of a strategic battle but also one that was accessible to the general reader.

To create his “page-turner” he was only too aware that he was competing with countless studies by academics and career war historians.  “It had to stand up to scholarly scrutiny. I was swimming in a pond teeming with academic sharks and I didn’t want to look silly by making mistakes,” he told  Richardson.

● Jonathan Dimbleby appears at Ludlow Assembly Rooms tomorrow Wednesday (November 28). Tickets and further information from www.ludlowassemblyrooms.co.uk or calling 01584 878141. He will also be at the Malvern Festival Theatre on Thursday. More details at  http://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk

 

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Big party as Jonathan Dimbleby celebrates 25 years as chairman of Any Answers?

Jonathan Dimbleby will soon be celebrating his 25th anniversary  as chairman of Radio 4’s Any Questions? The occasion, next month, is being marked by the BBC with a special birthday party at Broadcasting House. It is being given by Graham Ellis, head of audio and music production.

Theories abound that Jonathan may use the occasion to step down from the job he has made his own. The 68-year-old broadcaster recently decided to give up his regular Saturday stint on sister programme Any Answers? So that he could spend more time with his young family.

Media watchers have pointed out that Any Questions? is actually quite a tough gig. It involves lots of travelling and the constant high-pressure requirement to keep the content – delivered from multiple sources often in the heat of the moment – balanced and legally sound.

Well, all we can say as that if Jonathan is planning to say farewell to the programme it is certainly the first we’ve heard of it.

What we do know is that he is currently out on the road with Clive Conway Productions talking about his fascinating life and career and specifically his latest book Destiny in the Desert. Published last month, it explores the British victory at the Battle of El Alamein in November 1942.

The book is a story of high drama, played out both in the war capitals of London, Washington, Berlin, Rome and Moscow, and at the front, in the command posts and foxholes in the desert. El Alamein is about the tensions and rivalries between politicians and generals, diplomats. Drawing on official records and the personal insights of those involved at every level the book creates a vivid portrait of a struggle which for Churchill marked the turn of the tide.

An Audience with Jonathan Dimbleby is at Ludlow Assembly Rooms,1 Mill Street, Ludlow, SHROPS, United Kingdom, SY8 1AZ on Wednesday November 28.

The following night (Thursday November 29) Jonathan  will be at the Malvern Festival Theatre, Grange Road, Malvern , WORCES, United Kingdom, WR14 3HB.

Why Jonathan Dimbleby would like to buy Karl Marx a pie and a pint

Now here’s a pairing that would turn heads in the public bar of the Dog and Duck! Broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby says the figure from history he’d most like to buy a pie and a pint is Karl Marx.

Dimbleby told our old friend Rob McGibbon at the Mail Online –  Rob did those fantastic Clive Conway Productions interviews with John Humphrys and Felicity Kendal at The Cadogan Hall in Chelsea earlier this year  –  that he’d love to ask Marx “why he thinks it all went so horribly wrong.”

Jonathan  was taking part in the Mail’s Q&A feature The Definitive Answer. Although the  exercise was clearly part of his current publiciity push to promote his latest book – Destiny in the Desert – it came up with some intriguing answers. Did you know for instance that, as a youngster, he was a keen showjumper (Jonathan Dimbleby that is of course  NOT Karl Marx).  In fact he was a professional for a time and even became the South of England champion in 1965. Well you live and learn. Unfortunately Jonathan’s showjumping days are behind him but we can offer you the chance to hear him talking about that fascinating book  about the British victory at the Battle of El Alamein. An Audience With Jonathan Dimbleby is at Uppingham Theatre, 32 Stockerston Road, Uppingham, RUTL, United Kingdom, LE15 9UD tomorrow evening (Thursday November 15) http://www.uppthearts.co.uk/index.html

El Alamein – the end of the beginning – the desert battle that turned the tide

Don’t miss esteemed  broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby’s groundbreaking BBC-2 documentary exploring the  true significance of the World War II British victory at the Battle of El Alamein.

Jonathan Dimbleby

Called Churchill’s Desert War: The Road to El Alamein, it will be shown at 9.00pm  tomorrow night (Monday November 5) and gives fascinating account of this pivotal operation that in 1942 marked a crucial point in the battle against the Nazis.

Dimbleby, who has also just published a book on the subject, Destiny in the Desert: The Story Behind El Alamein, examines the human cost of this battle fought in appallingly inhospitable conditions, the military strategy behind it and how it finally brought the calendar of war to a position that  in Churchill’s famous words was, ‘the end of the beginning’.

 

Dimbleby talks Churchill, Chartwell, his dad and spaghetti plantations

Jonathan Dimbleby

It was good to hear Jonathan Dimbleby on Radio 4’s Saturday Live this morning talking to presenter J.P. Devlin about his father the great broadcaster Richard Dimbleby, We even got a clip of Dimbleby senior’s famed April Fool broadcast extolling the virtues of the great spaghetti plantations of the Po Valley. The main focus of the piece however was Jonathan’s thoughts on inspirational wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

The broadcast was recorded at Churchill’s country home, Chartwell in Kent. It included insights into the great man’s haphazard working methods – early morning briefings and dictation from his bed, strewn with Cabinet papers, and delivered cigar in mouth, whisky in hand. What’s more we got  Jonathan doing his (until now) rather uncelebrated  impression of  Churchill himself.

As well as regularly presenting BBC Radio 4’s  Any Questions? Jonathan – one of our most revered political broadcasters – is an expert on the history of the Second World War. Next Thursday November 8 will find him appearing for Clive Conway Productions in An Audience With Jonathan Dimbleby at the RAC Club in London’s Pall Mall.

No doubt high on the agenda will be his new book Destiny in the Desert published to mark the 70th anniversary of the British victory at the Battle of El Alamein in November 1942.

The book is a story of high drama, played out both in the war capitals of London, Washington, Berlin, Rome and Moscow, and at the front, in the command posts and foxholes in the desert. El Alamein is about the tensions and rivalries between politicians and generals, diplomats.  Drawing on official records and the personal insights of those involved at every level the book creates a vivid portrait of a struggle which for Churchill marked the turn of the tide.

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