Jonathan Dimbleby: 'I was a professional showjumper when I was younger and was South of England champion in 1965'



21:30 GMT, 26 October 2012

We ask a celebrity a set of devilishly probing questions – and only accept THE definitive answer. This week: broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby
Broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby

Broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby

The prized possession you value above
all others… My 50-year-old wooden sailing boat, Lady Kate. She sails
beautifully and turns heads because she's so pretty.

The unqualified regret you wish you
could amend… Not telling my mother precisely why I loved her before she
died in 2009. Mama had strong views, but she was immensely tolerant and
she embraced triumph and disaster with understanding and kindness.

The way you would spend your fantasy
24 hours, with no travel restrictions… It's a warm June day, which
starts with tomatoes on toast and coffee in the garden of our house in
Devon. Later, I would ride one of [Olympic Gold medallist] Nick
Skelton's best horses victoriously around the Olympic course in Rio de

Lunch would be fresh fish at Anchorstone Caf by the River Dart
in Devon. In the afternoon I'd play tennis against John McEnroe at the
Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and be back to enjoy Cos Fan
Tutte with my wife Jessica at the Royal Opera House.

We'd have dinner at
La Coupole in Paris – escargots, cassoulet, crme brle and a very
good bottle of Saint-Estphe. I would kiss my children [Daniel, 38,
Kitty, 32, Daisy, five, and Gwendoline, three] goodnight and then go to
bed with an Ian McEwan novel.

'I was a professional showjumper when I was younger and was South of England champion in 1965'

'I was a professional showjumper when I was younger and was South of England champion in 1965'

The temptation you wish you could resist… The third, or fourth, glass of wine, or the next bar of chocolate.

The book that holds an everlasting
resonance… Anna Karenina. I read it as a teenager and again in 2007 when
on my way to Yasnaya Polyana, Tolstoy's home, where he wrote his

The priority activity if you were the
Invisible Man for a day… I would eavesdrop on Tony Blair and George Bush
during a private get-together and make their honest conversation about
Iraq known to the world.

The pet hate that always gets your back up… People who use mobile phones in the ‘quiet' train carriage.

'I'd ask Karl Marx why he thinks it all went so horribly wrong'

'I wish I hadn't lost my father's diary from his time as a BBC war correspondent'

Jonathan Dimbleby would like to meet Karl Marx, left, and find the old diaries his father, Richard Dimbleby, right, kept when he was a BBC war correspondent

The film you can watch time and time
again… The Battle Of Algiers from 1966 about the end of French rule in
North Africa. It's cinematic genius.

The person who has influenced you
most… My father, Richard. He died when I was 21 and ever since I've
wondered what he'd have thought of whatever I do. He had enormous
presence and integrity and was always polite.

The figure from history for whom you'd
most like to buy a pie and a pint… Karl Marx. I'd ask him why he thinks
it all went so horribly wrong.

The piece of wisdom you would pass on to a child… Listen and try to be kind.

'Cole Porter's Do I Love You sung by Ella Fitzgerald is the song that means most to me'

'Anna Karenina, by Tolstoy is the book that holds everlasting resonance'

Singer Ella Fitzgerald, left, and Anna Karenina, right, are two cultural forces which have shaped Jonathan Dimbleby's life

The unlikely interest that engages
your curiosity… Showjumping. It was my first love and my main ambition
when I was younger. I was a professional for a time and became the South
of England champion in 1965.

The treasured item you lost and wish
you could have again… My father's diary of his time as a BBC war
correspondent. I lost it moving house years ago.

The unending quest that drives you on…
Curiosity and the urge to educate, inform and entertain. And,
naturally, the need to earn a living!

The poem that touches your soul… An
Arundel Tomb by Philip Larkin. It provokes a sense of what is
irredeemably lost, but inspires optimism.

The misapprehension about yourself you
wish you could erase… That I'm my brother, David, or that he's me. I
don't mind taking credit for all his achievements, but I am six years

Dimbleby likes chocolate....

Dimbleby likes chocolate….

...and red wine...

…and red wine…

...but not phones in quiet trains

…but not phones in quiet trains

The event that altered the course of
your life and character… My father's death from cancer when he was 52
[on 22 December 1965]. To lose him when I was so young was devastating. I
regret not being more curious and asking him about his experiences,
especially during the war.

The crime you would commit knowing you could get away with it… It would be daft to confess.

The song that means most to you… Cole Porter's Do I Love You sung by Ella Fitzgerald. It sears the soul.

The happiest moment you will cherish
forever… The day on which the Berlin Wall tumbled. It lifted a huge
albatross from the shoulders of the world.

The saddest time that shook your world… Some things are too private and too painful to share.

The unfulfilled ambition that
continues to haunt you… To say exactly what I think about any subject.
Like anyone, I have strong views, but as the chairman of Any Questions I
have to keep them to myself.

Jonathan Dimbleby's happiest memory is the day the Berlin Wall came down

Jonathan Dimbleby's happiest memory is the day the Berlin Wall came down

The philosophy that underpins your
life… Keep on trying and stick at things that really matter. The triers
of this world are under-estimated.

The order of service at your funeral…
It will be quiet and private. I'm not religious and I suppose I'll be
cremated and my ashes can be scattered on the River Dart. I'd like a
reading from Shakespeare's Cymbeline in Act Four, Scene Two, 'Fear no
more the heat o' th' sun, Nor the furious winter's rages, Thou thy
worldly task hast done, Home art gone and ta'en thy wages.'

The way you want to be remembered… He worked, he cared and he loved.

The Plug… My book Destiny In The
Desert: The Road To El Alamein – The Battle That Turned The Tide is out
now, published by Profile Books.