Sunday, 17 October 2021 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 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