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The Dimbleby Dozen

Ahead of this year’s round of elections, a swingometer-arced doff of the hat to the lord of results night raconteurs, David Dimbleby:

1) 1987

David continually interrupts his guests to eulogise effusively about the BBC blimp. “Let’s leave Northern Ireland for a moment and go up into our airship…that’s a beautiful view…trees green…we’re on our magic carpet…there are the buildings of the city of London…some of them graceful, some of them not…where the yuppies live.”

2) 2004 (US elections)

Ohio proves to be a problem, in more ways than one. “I’m standing on it now,” explains Peter Snow, “though it could be Nevada.” “Could be Nevada?” queries David. “I thought for a minute you were saying ‘it could be nirvana’, such was the pleasure you were taking in it all!” A visiting pollster then struggles with David’s references to “Ohio turnout”. “No, a higher turnout,” he frets, “excuse me – it’s my English.”

3) 2003

David has trouble with his Sky package. “Interactive features are available, if you’re fortunate enough to watch satellite – unlike mine, which keeps breaking up.”

4) 1992

David refers to Gyles Brandreth as “the quiz show host in the cardigan,” and pronounces his name Gyles Brand Reth.

5) 1987

David gets on the wrong side of Robin Day, observing that the great behemoth, slumped in his chair, is “already sound asleep.” “I’m not asleep, I’m not asleep,” barks Robin, “I’m just waiting until you finish rabbitting on.”

6) 2005

David has trouble with local geography. “There are so many seats in Birmingham I don’t know how they don’t get them all confused.”

7) 1997

“In case you missed it, Labour won.”

8) 2004 (US elections)

David moves things hastily along: “We’ll have some entertainment – the Black Eyed Peas!”

9) 2005

David discusses Tony Blair’s post-victory visit to Buckingham Palace with his man on the spot, Nicholas Witchell. “We’re not sure why the Prime Minister is taking so long,” wonders Nick. “Perhaps he’s having a job interview – or second thoughts!” jokes David. The mood becomes more uproarious when the PM finally emerges and his car has to take a very tortuous roundabout route out of the Palace grounds to avoid mowing down some soldiers. “Tony Blair’s first U-turn of this new parliament!” cracks David. But he’s not done yet, as he returns to the subject of whether Nick managed to ask the PM a question. With immaculate timing the correspondent replies: “You can get yourself into terrible trouble doing that!” leading David to speculate whether the PM might have been muttering “That bloody man Witchell – what’s he doing here?!”

10) 1979

The BBC cameras catch an unexpected glimpse of ITN’s Anna Ford. “There’s a lady from a television channel I won’t mention,” snaps David. “I don’t know where our chap is.”

11) 1992

As John Major begins to speak at Conservative Central Office, the BBC’s picture quality starts flickering between full colour and grey. “A slight element of Spitting Image entering our screens,” David quips.

12) 1983

“I’m in the middle of eating a Mars bar. Let’s go to Sheffield Brightside while I swallow it.”

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