Jonathan Dimbleby has hit out at the BBC's enemies and warned against future cuts in the TV licence fee.
Speaking to RadioTimes ahead of this evening's The BBC at War series, which he presents, the veteran broadcaster said: "I believe that while there are powerful vested interests who would like to see the BBC denied a licence fee [and] without a licence fee, the BBC could not do what it does. It’s stressed at the moment.
"There are cuts still coming. And in some parts of the BBC’s output, not least in radio - of which I am very familiar - and in television, those cuts are pretty close to the bone. Of course, more can be done, but there comes a point where that crossover between savings, proper savings, and weakened programmes, means that the BBC really is editorially diminished and weakened. And if you’re not careful you get a vicious circle and people say it’s not as good as it was, let’s get rid of it.
"The BBC has enemies, it has powerful enemies. It has powerful enemies in the press and powerful enemies in Westminster. Some for ideological reasons, some for straight commercial reasons."
In the two-part series Dimbleby recounts how his father, war correspondent Richard, played a leading role in the BBC's efforts against the Third Reich's slick propaganda machine.
"The essence of the BBC, and this is what the war established, is it has the potential to do top quality journalism. It is widely regarded as doing the best broadcast journalism. At your peril do we bring about a situation in which that is undermined.
"The war was the making of the BBC. It established it could report massive global affairs with authority and integrity."
Dimbleby exuded the value of the £145.50 TV licence fee, saying that the equivalent of 40 pence a day was "cheap as chips".
He conceded: "There are things wrong with the BBC. Heaven knows, the bureaucracy can still be slimmed. There are too many individuals who are not doing much who are pushed from one job people don’t want them in into a job that is not vital. Too many bullets of that kind are bitten. But I am sure that is a problem that can be tackled and will be tackled."
The BBC at War begins this evening at 9 pm on BBC Two.