David Dimbleby achieves tattoo ambition at 75

Veteran TV presenter is filmed getting tattoo of scorpion, saying 'You are only old once … it is a dream come true'

David Dimbleby, who turned 75 last month, is to be shown in his latest television series getting a scorpion tattoo on his shoulder, fulfilling what he has described as a long held secret ambition.

The Question Time presenter, who has anchored the BBC's coverage of every general election since 1979, was filmed at an east London tattoo parlour – although he admitted he initially balked at the idea, believing he was too old.

He said he chose a scorpion because of his star sign, adding that he was rather fond of it, "sitting on my shoulder ready to attack my enemies".

Dimbleby told the latest edition of Radio Times: "You are only old once. I have always wanted a tattoo. I thought I might as well have it done now. It's a dream come true for me."

BBC1 viewers will see Dimbleby getting inked in the first episode of his new documentary series about the UK's maritime history, Britain and the Sea, on Sunday.

The opportunity arose as his series covers how tattoo art was introduced to the UK following Captain Cook's voyage of exploration to Tahiti in the late 18th century.

Dimblebly initially declined the offer of a tattoo, but changed his mind after he saw how "feeble" a black pencil drawing looked on screen. "I thought it was wimpish having it just drawn on and I needed to man up."

He said while he was being filmed in the Vagabond studio in Bethnal Green he was thinking about Winston Churchill getting his tattoo done.

"It wasn't painful at all, it just zings a bit. It's modest. It can't be seen unless I choose to show it to someone.," Dimbleby said.

"It's beautifully done, actually. It's a work of art. They have these 3D tattoos now that are done using photographs, which are just astonishing, but I wasn't about to have one myself."

Dimbleby is also not about to copy Cheryl Cole and have his bottom tattooed, telling Radio Times: "I wasn't tempted to have any private parts decorated, I have to tell you. I thought the shoulder was the most discreet place. I didn't want it on my arm because it would show every time I rolled up my sleeve."

He said that his wife was "mildly amused". He said: "I believe she wanted a tattoo once, but has never got around to it. Maybe I'll be able to persuade her."

It was reported on Monday that another veteran BBC journalist and presenter, John Humphrys, could also be branching out in a surprising new direction, hosting a hip hop quiz on Radio 1.

The Today and Mastermind host is understood to have had talks with the BBC about the idea but, for logistical reasons, it is not likely to happen any time soon.


Jason Deans

The GuardianTramp

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