Sunday, 17 October 2021 Contact us

(MUCH) LARGER THAN LIFE - APRIL 3 - 1.58PM - 2019

Sir Ranulph Fiennes - The Sheldonian - 12.00 noon

Now I thought Marcus du Sautoy’s talk on Monday couldn’t be bettered for sheer delivery, excitement and style. But I was wrong. Big time. Indeed, today’s one hour ‘audience’ with Sir Ranulph Fiennes is probably one of the finest talks I have ever attended. Period.
No messing, no gentle warm-up (apart from an introductory two-minute film that could so easily have been mistaken for a ‘Best of Bond, Indiana Jones and Han Solo’ YouTube tribute), he hit the ground running and didn’t stop.
Hell, I even looked at my watch at 12.18pm and reckoned I heard more, laughed more and learnt more in that bare skeleton of time than during all the other talks I’ve attended this week (and praise must go here too to his interviewer, Rupert Lancaster, who matched perfectly Fiennes brisk pace and dry observation).
But before I move on, I’ll just quickly recount who Ranulph Fiennes is (in case you haven’t heard of him)  -
* The ‘Guinness Book of Records’ no less, calls him “the world’s greatest living explorer” (and maybe that alone is all you need to know…)
* During his 75 years, and yes he looks good on it (although one audience member, careless enough to say out loud before the talk began that he thought he’d aged prematurely, was immediately rebuked by a woman who snapped: “Well, after everything he’s been through and achieved, wouldn’t you?”), he’s been a soldier in the SAS, an athlete, mountaineer and best-selling author.
* But that’s not all: he’s also led expeditions to the most dangerous and inaccessible regions of the world
* Raised millions for charity
* Narrowly escaped death many times
* AND discovered the lost city of Uber in Oman
In short then, a kind of Boy’s Own true-life hero (although having just flown in from Sydney and suffering jet lag, his interviewer did reassure us that if he did indeed drop off, he’d shake him out of it…). Not that he ever even came close.
This was a seasoned raconteur with one, huge advantage over all those who would wistfully love to label themselves the same - his tales are true.
Flexing a superbly dry and wry wit and a mischievous but firm disregard for his own legend, this was an event you walked out of feeling proud and privileged to have attended. 

FT Weekend Title partner BBC World Service International radio partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner University of Oxford New College Jewish Book Week Partner of Jewish programme Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme Irish Embassy, London Supporters of the Irish programme MIT Press MIT Press. Sponsors of the programme of American literature and culture The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner British Academy Festival academic partner Emily Rose and James Marrow Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Jill Dunsmore Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture George Warren Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Marlene Hauser Worcester College Worcester College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Hilda’s College 12th St Hilda's day at the festival St Cross College St Cross College: Festival college partner. The Feathers Hotel Woodstock festival hotel Critchleys Accountants to the festival Owen Mumford Sponsor of programme on science and medicine HM Government of Gibraltar Festival green room sponsor Felicity Bryan Associates Conference Oxford Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Said Business School Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner The Oxford Times Regional media partner Oxford Brookes University Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Floris of London City Audio Visual Schoolreaders The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Chamberlain Evans Estate agents Ironbridge Gorge Museums Foodbuy Siren Communications Siren Communications - corporate consultants Chêne Bleu Wines of Provence Frescobaldi Toscana Wines of Tuscany Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Seacourt Printers Festival printers Steer Oxford Botanic Garden Compassion in World Farming The Wild Geese Nicholas Hunter Ltd

FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival sponsors, donors & partners

FT Weekend Title partner BBC World Service International radio partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner University of Oxford New College Jewish Book Week Partner of Jewish programme Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme Irish Embassy, London Supporters of the Irish programme MIT Press MIT Press. Sponsors of the programme of American literature and culture The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller The Randolph Hotel The festival hotel Princeton University Press Prestige publishing partner British Academy Festival academic partner Emily Rose and James Marrow Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Jill Dunsmore Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture George Warren Mary and Cecil Quillen Supporters of the programme of American literature and culture Marlene Hauser Worcester College Worcester College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Hilda’s College 12th St Hilda's day at the festival St Cross College St Cross College: Festival college partner. The Feathers Hotel Woodstock festival hotel Critchleys Accountants to the festival Owen Mumford Sponsor of programme on science and medicine HM Government of Gibraltar Festival green room sponsor Felicity Bryan Associates Conference Oxford Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Said Business School Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner The Oxford Times Regional media partner Oxford Brookes University Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Floris of London City Audio Visual Schoolreaders The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Chamberlain Evans Estate agents Ironbridge Gorge Museums Foodbuy Siren Communications Siren Communications - corporate consultants Chêne Bleu Wines of Provence Frescobaldi Toscana Wines of Tuscany Symington Wines of the Douro Valley Seacourt Printers Festival printers Steer Oxford Botanic Garden Compassion in World Farming The Wild Geese Nicholas Hunter Ltd