Wednesday, 12 December 2018 Contact us

SIMPLY THE BEST - MAR 26 - 4.38PM

BBC World Service - Worcester College - John Simpson, Maya Youssef

In Festival terms, this was something of a blockbuster; a David Lean type epic presented by the BBC World Service and starring, in no particular order, John Simpson, Anu Anand, Bek Okri, Maya Youssef, Sahar Zand and Luciano Floridi.
And its location was equally as grand - the Sultan Nazrin Shah Centre in Worcester College . Indeed, the last time I was as impressed by a venue as this was in Petra, Jordan (clearly the Shah Centre would fit into this particular World Heritage Site’s toilets, but in terms of sheer aesthetic awe, trust me, it’s hard to beat…).
And in keeping with the intimate grandeur of this brand new facility, the subject matter for this impressive meeting of minds was equally as inspiring - the origin of human nature.
And before I finally bludgeon you to death with superlatives, let me add one final jaw-dropping observation, prompted by John Simpson in his welcome to the audience, reminding us that those of us gathered there were but just a smidgin of the world wide audience of 66 million listening in live at that moment (compared to most Lit Fest venues holding 200 or less, this really was a coup; indeed it must have crossed the minds of organisers that if tickets could have been sold, retiring to Monica would definitely have been a possibility).
Anyway, as for the two-hour cocktail of conversation, debate and music (provided by Maya Youssef), it proved a milestone moment in the 21-year history of the festival.
Funny, daring, provoking, contentious, it currently ranks as my all-time favourite festival event.
And yup, I feel privileged to have been there.

FT Weekend Title partner University of Oxford BBC World Service International radio partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Worcester College Worcester College: Festival college partner Irish Embassy, London Supporters of the Irish programme Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller Head of Zeus The Macdonald Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Italian Cultural Institute HM Government of Gibraltar Festival green room sponsor Gibunco Group Sponsor of Gibraltar Lecture British Academy BBC Four Television Broadcast media partner Earthwatch Europe Ian and Carol Sellars Emily Rose and James Marrow Jill Dunsmore New College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Cross College St Cross College Jesus College St Hilda’s College St John’s College St John's College The Queen’s College The Queen's College Exeter College Exeter College Hertford College Keble College Keble College Oxford Brookes University Said Business School University of Oxford Mathematical Institute Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies The Oxford Times Regional media partner BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design The Royal Society of Literature Royal Literary Fund Princeton University Press Felicity Bryan Associates University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Conference Oxford Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Oxford University Press Floris of London Critchleys City Audio Visual Eynsham Hall Macdonald Bear Hotel Sloane Club Ashmolean Museum British Humanist Association The Story Museum Oxford City Council The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Liaison Financial Services Steer

FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival partners & sponsors

FT Weekend Title partner University of Oxford BBC World Service International radio partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Worcester College Worcester College: Festival college partner Irish Embassy, London Supporters of the Irish programme Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller Head of Zeus The Macdonald Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Italian Cultural Institute HM Government of Gibraltar Festival green room sponsor Gibunco Group Sponsor of Gibraltar Lecture British Academy BBC Four Television Broadcast media partner Earthwatch Europe Ian and Carol Sellars Emily Rose and James Marrow Jill Dunsmore New College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Cross College St Cross College Jesus College St Hilda’s College St John’s College St John's College The Queen’s College The Queen's College Exeter College Exeter College Hertford College Keble College Keble College Oxford Brookes University Said Business School University of Oxford Mathematical Institute Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies The Oxford Times Regional media partner BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design The Royal Society of Literature Royal Literary Fund Princeton University Press Felicity Bryan Associates University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Conference Oxford Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Oxford University Press Floris of London Critchleys City Audio Visual Eynsham Hall Macdonald Bear Hotel Sloane Club Ashmolean Museum British Humanist Association The Story Museum Oxford City Council The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Liaison Financial Services Steer