Why old age pensioners should be forced to pay their BBC TV licence

Britain was riveted on Saturday when mega wealthy David Dimbleby guest-edited the Today programme. Not because, like a previous guest, the crime writer PD James, he wrenched the programme away from its liberal bias, but because of a scrap with a programme stalwart, hugely rich John Humphrys.

Trouble started during a discussion on the monarchy.

DD: I’m sorry, there was a total sneer in that question, ‘you’re quite posh’. I’m about as posh as you are. I come from Wales as you do. I’m not posh, I happen to have been a broadcaster for a long time.

JH: You had a very distinguished father?

DD: Well, that doesn’t make me posh! I had a distinguished father. It’s a ridiculous question. The point is about the monarchy, I am not close to the monarchy, I have met the Queen probably less times than you, I think I’ve met her once.

JH: I don’t know why I made that assumption.

So who is poshest?

Birth & Background.

David Dimbleby, 80, was born in Surrey, the son of the journalist and distinguished BBC war correspondent Richard Dimbleby CBE and wife Dilys Thomas, from Wales. His family acquired The Richmond & Twickenham Times news group in 1894.

David was educated at two independent schools, the Glengorse School in Battle, East Sussex, and Charterhouse School in Godalming, Surrey. In December 2012 Charterhouse was reported to be the fifth most expensive for boarding pupils. Charging up to £11,415 per term in 2014/15, Charterhouse is the 7th most expensive HMC boarding school in the UK. For the 2016/17 academic year, boarding fees are £39,165 and day boarding is £32,364.

After learning French in Paris and Italian in Perugia, he read PPE  at Christ Church, Oxford, Oxfords premier college known as ‘The House’ (of God) which has produced more Prime Ministers than any other. He and graduated with a third-class honours degree possibly because he was so busy as President of the Christ Church JCR, and a member of the Bullingdon Club, the notorious, exclusive student drinking society, and also editor of Isis the student magazine.

Desmond John Humphries, 75, was born in Splott, Central Cardiff, son a hairdresser and a French polisher. His parents encouraged him to do his homework, he passed the eleven plus and attended Cardiff High School (then grammar school), but did not fit into the middle class culture there. He left school at 15 with no qualifications and became a cub reporter on the Penarth Times. He later joined the Western Mail.


Dimbleby went straight into the BBC as a news reporter in the 1960s and has appeared on screen from 1962, reporting on the 1964 General Election, with his father as linkman.

He was host of BBC Question Time from 1994 until this December. There were reports in 2004 that Dimbleby was shortlisted for the Chairmanship of the BBC. The position went to Michael Grade. As early as 1987, he was a contender for the position of Director General of the BBC, he lost that one to Michael Checkland.

Humphrys joined a commercial television channel based in Wales, and was the first reporter on the scene of the Aberfan disaster in October 1966. He joined the BBC later that year as the district reporter for the Northwest, sometimes reporting on the national news. He then worked as a BBC foreign correspondent and became a presenter of Radio 4’s Today in 1987.

On 12 November 2009, he became the only person to replace Dimbleby as the host of Question Time after Dimbleby was injured by his wife’s 700lb bullock.

Wives & Children

Dimbleby has three children by wife, Josceline , the Daily Telegraph cookery writer: Liza, an artist who studied at the Dragon School in Oxford, and the Royal Drawing School. Henry Richard Melville Dimbleby MBE, who was educated at Eton as a contemporary of Jacob Rees-Mogg, and Kate who attended St Paul’s Girls school.

In 2000, Dimbleby married Belinda Giles, granddaughter of Herbrand Sackville, 9th Earl De La Warr. Their son, Fred gained good A Levels at the £30,000 a year Brighton College in Sussex.

Humphrys married first, Edna Wilding, they divorced in 1991.They had two children, Christopher, who was educated abroad then studied at the Royal College of Music, and Catherine, a reflexologist.

Aged 56, Humphreys had a second son, Owen, with his partner, radio producer, Valerie Sanderson. He also had a reverse vasectomy. He referred to these facts on 31 October 2006 on BBC Radio 4 in the programme Humphrys in Search of God. Later he began a relationship with journalist Catherine Bennett, former wife of Robert Bertrand Sackville-West, 7th Baron Sackville, keeper of Knowle House, now owned by the National Trust. She was fifteen years Humphry’s junior. Since April 2017 he is said to be with Sarah Butler-Sloss, twenty-one years his junior, daughter of billionaire supermarket owner, Lord Sainsbury.


In 2011 Dimbleby was reported to have been offered £2.3 million to host 30 editions of Question Time a year, at about £15,000 each, earning him £450,000 per annum. His current pay is not known as he is paid through a private production company, not directly by the BBC.

In 2017, Humphrys earned between £600,000 and £649,999 as a BBC presenter on Today and BBC TV Master Mind. In January 2018 he took a voluntary pay cut to the £250,000–£300,000 range due to the gender pay gap controversy.


Dimbleby owns a 1.5 million mansion in Polegate, East Sussex. He and his wife keep chickens, cows, goats, pigs and sheep.

In 2010 Humphreys sold his sixteen acres in Carmarthenshire for £265,000. He lives in Hammersmith, London W6 near Ravenscourt Park where five bedroomed houses sell for over three million. He also has a home in Greece, with six bedrooms, five bathrooms and a swimming pool.

The BBC is currently consulting on whether or not to charge old age pensioners over 75 for their TV licences.



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4 Comments on Why old age pensioners should be forced to pay their BBC TV licence

  1. Thank you, Jane, for your hilarious research. You deserve an uncommonly happy new year.

    It’s a shame that Kingsley Amis is dead. Dimbleby v Humphries could have provided him with material for an entertaining novel, though I suspect that he’d have wanted to include the egregious David Attenborough as a target for his strongest satire.

    Meanwhile, the BBC have done us proud this Christmas. Festive episodes of Steptoe and Son, Morecambe and Wise, Porridge, the Two Ronnies and Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em have reminded us that it wasn’t very long ago that the rich man in his castle and the pauper at his gate shared the same sense of humour.

    Let’s all make a new year resolution to make 2019 the year in which we start resisting the cultural-marxist efforts to deprive us of our shared sense of humour.

    Bliadhna mhath ùr!

  2. I know that I will eventually figure out the point of this piece. I’m good at that sort of thing. But why should old geezers “well struck in years” (not you, Ms Kelly – another main contributor here) not pay for the privilege of watching Strictly Come Dancing, Fawlty Towers re-runs and (Lord have mercy) The Great British Bake Off?

    Septuagenarians are (as a rule) set for the rest of their increasingly long lives – sucking at corporate and/or public teats. I believe there to be far more quadragenarians (I’m past that, so please don’t accuse me of special pleading) who need the equivalent of “food stamps” in order to watch crap TV, which I’ve never done this century, except when visiting my millionaire octogenarian golf-addicted uncle (RIP) at his winter home in Florida.

  3. Thanks for those revealing comments about two insufferable “national treasures” from our bloated public broadcasting industry.

    Humphrys is one of those BBC time-servers who enjoys a reverence and respect from other journalists that is not really justified by his performance (Andrew Marr is another). Perhaps political writers imagine the public are hugely impressed by the verbal fencing that takes place when a senior politician is summoned to appear before Humphrys or Marr. We are supposed to believe that these attempts to trap politicians into revealing the truth of their intentions with tough questioning are an important part of the democratic process when in fact they are of piffling irrelevance.

    Far more useful would be a good piece of genuine investigative journalism to inform and educate the public. This is increasingly rare. Instead we are given propaganda-like pseudo-investigations created to “raise awareness” of the broadcaster’s favourite worthy causes. What the public should think and feel on these issues is decided for them.