Veteran reporter David Dimbleby faces stormy online seas

He’s been called silly names, described as a ‘turd’, ‘cold fish’ and upbraided for spouting flannel in online commentary and in some newspapers…poor old David Dimbleby must wonder what on earth he’s done to deserve such mud-slinging.

His TV triptych, Britain and the Sea, saw one of the BBC’s leading political journalists sailing his 28ft Heard gaffer along selected pieces of coastline and stopping off for a chat here and there.

His gentle voyage was actually rather winsome. If it seemed a little self-indulgent then so be it: there is too much history around our Sceptred Isle to cover everything, and the same places get visited over and over again. Mr Dimbleby rightly picked out what interested him, on what was after all his personal passage.

What impressed me was how scenes which perhaps didn’t put him in the best light weren’t edited out. He looked decidedly anxious during a fresh breeze crossing Mounts Bay in Cornwall, he appeared as a bit of a shouter on board, berating the camera crew for filming when entering Dover and he almost toppled over while clambering over the guard rails aboard Gipsy Moth IV to meet Dame Ellen McArthur.

None of this added anything to the programme and could have easily been cut, but Mr Dimbleby saw to it that it was screened: not the actions of a ‘nauseous celebrity’.

But then even his crew have come in for ridicule, too. My old shipmate Peter Lucas, who once appeared in the TV soap and water The Onedin Line, was aboard for the Scottish leg. Peter has sailed many thousands of miles offshore, many more I would wager than his detractors, yet this top rigger and sailmaker, was berated for throwing a mooring line more than once!!

All I would ask is please would the Beeb screen Question Time – one of the best reality shows on TV anywhere in the world – an hour earlier: 10.30 is way past my bedtime.

Credit: Courtesy BBC TV