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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  November 18, 2019 4:30am-5:00am GMT

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sir ranulph fiennes, welcome to hardtalk. the headlines: thank you very much. hong kong police have arrested seems to me, your entire life, at least a0 protesters after a two—day stand—off at you have spent testing the polytechnic university building. yourself, challenging yourself. why this preoccupation with tests? activists continue to occupy parts of the building it doesn't come about in that after a night of clashes. particular way, it comes overnight, protesters set fire about because of being brought up to two of the entrances when police in south africa, arriving in the uk, moved into the campus. not getting a—levels, there's further controversy for prince andrew after the bbc‘s exclusive interview. he said he didn't regret his that's what it comes from, association with sex offender, jeffrey epstein. because that's not what i wanted the duke of york has been widely to do, it's what my dad had done, criticised for failing to express sympathy for victims of epstein, commanding the royal scots‘ greatest tank regiment when he was killed who killed himself in august. in the second world war, large parts of central venice and i wanted to command that same are under water again as another wonderful scottish regiment, but in his day, it didn't require exceptionally high tide a—levels to get sandhurst. inundated the italian city. three of the worst ten floods since records began nearly a hundred in my time, you did, and i couldn't, years ago, have now and therefore i had a second grade of cadet school and would never happened in a week. the mayor of venice has blamed it become colonel of the regiment, in part on climate change. so ijoined the regiment but had only eight years of army service before you were thrown out.
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and so i didn't do what i wanted now on bbc news, it's hardtalk. stephen sackur interviews to do, and i did as long sir ranulph fiennes. as i could in the army, welcome to hardtalk, then i found myself with no income, i'm stephen sackur. i married my wifejenny who had my guest today is an extremist virtually no income, of a very special kind. nothing to do with his political and so we thought we'd do what i had views, but recognition of a lifetime tried to do in the army, which was to do expeditions spent embracing physical challenges with soldiers, but that was paid at the extreme limit for by the taxpayer. of human endurance. doing it with just my wife, the new word was sponsorship. get everything for nothing. sir ranulph fiennes has taken you've already developed on and conquered the polar ice, the world's highest peaks several themes there, and the most gruelling deserts. he's been described and one thing that is important as one of the world's greatest living explorers. 00:01:47,585 --> 2147483051:37:38,507 so, what is the motivation for this 2147483051:37:38,507 --> 4294966103:13:29,430 life of extreme adventure? to your life and i think that's, in a way there's a sense of disappointment that you were not, despite the fact that you tried very hard to emulate your father... and it should be said that your father was killed in action in the second world war, so you never knew him. you were born after he died, but you clearly wanted to emulate his brilliant military
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career, but you were not able to. was that always, and is it now, a disappointment to you? it is the biggest disappointment. i wanted for 2h years to do that, and then found that i had failed and couldn't do it, so i had to turn to something else. you've just written a book about elite special forces throughout the course of human history and you actually write about your dad's own regiment, the royal scots greys, a cavalry regiment which has been involved in some of the most famous battles that the uk military has seen. you did, for a while, serve in that force yourself. have you always found it difficult to live up to your father's reputation? yeah, i mean, i wanted to actually get, it's an awful thing to say, but to fight... in his days it was nazis, in my day it was marxists, and they — harold wilson had chucked the brits out of aden — yemen, as it now is. and they were coming in, having trained the muslims in odessa in the soviet union, to become marxists instead of muslims.
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and we were there, thanks to harold wilson sending us, to protect the muslims from the marxists, and so i was able to actuallyjoin an elite force, having been trained by the sas without fighting, i now had a command over an elite force, like what the book's all about, 60 of them, and could change their operations procedure by what i learned in the sas, mainly to move only by night, do nothing by day, and by shouting in the dark when we were under attack from machine—guns, " retreat, retreat! " — but advance. you were a tough guy in that sense and you led men in very difficult circumstances, but you've also written very honestly about the way in which you didn't always find it easy to be that tough guy. you've written about school, how you hated being bullied, how you felt you had
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to keep your mouth shut when you were being beaten at eton, one of the leading public schools in the uk, because you, again, didn't want to let your father down. we have had other guests in this studio talk about their upbringings as males, in very male societies, and they have talked — and one in particular, a novelist from australia, talked about a toxic sense of masculinity, and i just wonder whether you, reflecting on your life, can relate to that? yeah, you're talking about an all—male background. i was brought up in south africa with a mother, a grandmother, lots of aunties, lots of sisters, no male whatsoever, so it was totally — i was spoiled rotten. and then thrown into a pretty brutal boys‘ boarding school. yeah, i hate to call eton brutal... but in your day. yeah, and if i had a son, i'd probably send him there. but in my day, it was very different. you were beaten and all this sort of stuff — like you were at every other school, pretty much at the time.
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and yes, i do remember not wanting to shout when being beaten, and that is a sort of indication, and i do remember people saying i looked "pretty" and i scowled to try to stop looking pretty. so i thought i'd take up boxing in order to become aggressive—appearing, and it sort of worked quite well. so here we are, let us be blunt, you were thrown out of the sas, britain's special forces, because of a complicated incident in which you and a friend acquired some explosive and went a bit freelance. no, i acquired the explosives, but you were being taught to blow up as much as possible by the sas with as little as possible, and at the end of every day i was quite good at it so i had a lot left over. i thought, pity to give it back to the queen, you know. put it in the boot. so two months later, the boot of my car was full so two months later,
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the boot of my car was full—up with explosives. so when this guy came up with an offer to protect castle combe in wiltshire, the prettiest village, voted as such, being ruined by 20th century fox. so we planned to blow up the dam, which they had made this lovely river into a big lake forfilming, and yes, i was thrown out of the sas for misuse... yes, let's be honest, you went a bit rogue. you undertook a freelance operation, and they took a very dim view of it. but the point of the story, in a way, is that there you were, pretty much penniless, newly married, now without a military career. you thought the way through this, to continue to travel, to have the adventures, but to not do it with the military was to launch a series of expeditions. yes. luckily, my wife — late wife of 38 years, she was into the same sort of thing. she'd been a mountain guide up in the north of scotland. and she was a very determined
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person, and she decided that we would have to be polar because of the british media at the time were only interested in polar stuff, and if you don't get media coverage, you don't get sponsorship — which we depend upon. and therefore, we would do the only polar expedition which had never been done by mankind, not even scott shackleton and co, which was to do the first—ever journey around earth vertically, and she decided that's what we would do. which of course was a journey without any air flight, you were on foot across the poles. yeah. no flying one inch of the 52,000 miles. and noticing as we speak that the hand is evidence of some of the suffering that you have had in yourjourneys across the most frozen parts of our planet. yes. well, when we are selecting people for a small team, we've had 8,000 applicants in the london area, we only want two people. so choice is important. one of the things i would never take is someone with previous frostbite
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because they become a liability on the expedition, so i wouldn't choose myself anymore after getting this sort of thing. just explain to me, because that, i think, is important to talk about, not because of the detail of how it happened, but how you responded to it. you basically had to amputate your own, or you chose to amputate your own fingers and most of a thumb, didn't you? yeah, i mean, when it happened, i sent a telegram back to the uk because by then my wife was into cattle, and all i got back from her was, typical ran, getting your fingers and all that, we are already short—handed on the farm, so i didn't get much sympathy. got back to the uk, the surgeon wouldn't operate for five months, so i was walking around with mummified half—fingers on the end, and any time you touched something, it's agony, so she said i was getting irritable, and can't wait five months to have a proper amputation.
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so we bought a black and decker fret saw, and she brought me cups of tea, and the physiotherapist in bristol said i had done a very good job. the surgeon was sort ofjealous, i think. which raises the question, as you undertook more and more extreme adventures, crossing the poles on foot, deciding, much later in life, you were going to try to climb all seven highest peaks on the seven continents of this planet. you clearly were prepared to endure enormous amounts of physical suffering. yeah, i had a massive heart attack on everest within five hours of the summit ridge. and therefore i had to retreat, three days later i got back down to the base camp through a very good sherpa and tried again five years later, but by which time i was becoming an 0ap and failed a second time because of passing too many bodies. 0n the third attempt, with a wonderful sherpa, passed the bit which has recently been in the news, where you get queues of people —
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all you do is, you do it at night when there's no people. so my sherpa took me up at night, got to the top, no bother, became the first 0ap to get to the top. how old were you? when you got to the top of everest? 65. but because of being an 0ap it made more money for multiple sclerosis. and these expeditions, one of the offshoots is we have made £19 million for uk charities, and the more difficult they are, the more the public will give money to the charity. interesting you say the more difficult they are, the more money we can raise, the more we can do. isn't that, in the end, a rather dangerous philosophy? because it is tempting you to undertake adventures, i don't know whether we call them adventures or explorations... we call them expeditions. expeditions. but they are at the very boundary of what the human body can sustain, and i wonder whether at times you have actually been irresponsible? no, it's a commercial problem. we need sponsorship, we never pay money to anybody or anything, so we need sponsorship.
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the sponsors will only give you sponsorship if you're breaking world records, and they are only world records because the easier ones have been done. so your point about them being very hard, is what comes about. we don't attack at. we look at the previous people, normally norwegian, who have succeeded. where they've failed on the expeditions that haven't yet been done by humans, where they've failed, we discover what they did wrong, and normally they took risks. so we try and actually avoid the risks, not confront them. isn't it the truth that explorers and expedition leaders such as you are running out of new places to go? running out of records to break? it depends which field you're in. if you're in polar, there are only two poles so you are quite right. if you happen to be one of the people who go for first ascents of difficult mountains, there are still many horrible north—faces still to be climbed, so they've got plenty to do.
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it's interesting you mention that, because i was reading a back copy of the new york times from 2008 which was all about the mission that, some of the world's leading climbers undertook to k2 using a very difficult route, and i believe ii of them were killed in one of the worst international mountaineering incidents ever. and ijust wonder, with your experience, whether you fear that decision making is being compromised by this desire to push to ever more extreme limits. yes, it must be. because if you are wanting — that is yourjob to go onto the next record, and because of what i've just said, the records become harder and harder as your predecessors manage the last one. but in a sense, it's not a job, is it? and that's sort of what i'm driving at. perhaps there is a selfishness of going too far in some explorers minds, because if they get into trouble, they are going to have to be rescued or at least rescue attempts will be made, enormous resources will be spent, and i think some people in the public are saying, what's the point? the foreign office
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stopped that happening. you cannot get permission to go down to antarctica in the winter when there's no rescue service. the rescue services want money by rescuing people so they like it. so, you're not ending up with threatening somebody as you have in the old days when that wasn't the case. the polar desk, if they're not going to sue me for libel, in whitehall, are there to stop you going there in the wintertime when there's no rescue service on the entire continent. every time i go in there with a new expedition they say, "christ, it's him again." just one more thought on the way in which you've promoted and sold the expeditions. because, of course, as you very honestly say, "i need the cash to make them happen." is there a tendency to exaggerate at times? i'm just thinking now about one of your most remarkable expeditions, which has nothing to do the ice, it was the desert, and it was your mission to find the lost city of ubar, a sort of mythical city mentioned
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in the arabian nights. you were convinced it was somewhere in the empty quarter between saudi arabia and 0man. yeah, my wife was convinced. well, your wife — well, she led many of your missions in terms of being the logistics commander. true. and you claimed you found it in 1991. now, many archaeologists and experts that i've read since say, well, ranulph found something very interesting, but it sure as anything wasn't the lost city of ubar. the sultan of oman would tell you that it was the lost city of ubar, the queen of sheba had somewhere in order to put the frankincense on the camels to send them to the market up injerusalem and that's a huge journey, and we knew, therefore, exactly where she would have to start loading the camels with frankincense, which cost three times the cost of gold. so, it was well worth doing. it must‘ve been where water came from the coasts towards the great deserts of arabia, which they had to cross. so we are looking at the very tip
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of where that water reached, and we reached a place called shisr, and that must have been — and all the 0mani authorities agree, and the professor who found them, juris zarins, the best middle east archaeologist in the world, agreed that it must be ubar. so, what you're saying, quoting other jealous archaeologists, talking a load of rubbish. no, it is ubar. well, obviously you're not an archaeologist. but you're right, the 0manis, but they could have other reasons, including tourism to want to believe you were right. but in the end, it was an extraordinary expedition, whether it's ubar or not. yeah, it wasn't me deciding it was ubar, it was the best archaeologist in the world, juris zarins. but you sit before me as a man in maturity, in your 70s. and you have not stopped and your health problems have gotten worse. and ijust wonder
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if you are struggling — to put it bluntly — to manage with the realities of ageing, when your determination to get going, keep the expeditions alive, is as strong as ever. yeah, it is, in my head, as strong as ever. but i acknowledge the fact that people, when they get to sort of 73, it starts being alarming. things drop off and you have to start going for fast walks instead of runs on your daily — yeah, that is unfortunately true. so, what we are doing is i am handing over the planning of what we do do to my colleagues like doctor michael strahd, who's a top expedition doctor. he is taking over, right now, up in the arctic with the russian polar experts looking to see how the ice is behaving, allowing new expeditions where there was ice and there is now water. but i just wonder whether you're. .. again, it's a question of responsibility. you have a teenage daughter. after your first wife died, you remarried.
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you're a father. and yet, even in, i believe, your 70s, you undertook one of the world's toughest sporting challenges — the marathon des sables in the saharan desert. and that, for a human in good condition in their 20s or 30s, is almost unbearable. how on earth could you do that? well, you have to have a guide who pushes you really hard, more than your own mental process is pushing you. therefore, i went to this guy, rory coleman in cardiff, who took me on, looked to see what i was capable of if driven and did it successfully. so we made the 2.3 million figure that we were after from that particular thing you're talking about. and when you go off on these extraordinary challenges now, in the last few years,
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what does your wife, what does your daughter say to you? well, they are a wonderful couple, wonderful wife, wonderful daughter. do they ever suggest to you, you are mad? are they fed up? i better, the first time, not answer that question. oh, no... i have to remember, when i was born, i didn't have a father. i was brought up with just a mother. and my lovely wife is a fantastically good mum, so, you know, iwouldn‘t feel all that guilty. and you get to a certain age, you're going to die off anyway whether you do it out in the cold or you run over by a taxi. a theme through our conversation has been motivation and tracing things back to your early life. you said just a few years ago in an interview with the financial times, you said, "if i didn't do what i do, i do think i would get depressed. i think i would suffer depression,
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which i don't, thankfully. but i think i could. it's a sort of a background shadow, a sort of fear at the thought of not having a challenge." i think that is correct. and that's still something i would fear, yes. have you ever, at any point in your life, where either physically or for reasons of money, you've not been able to do what you wanted to do? have you suffered depression? reasons of money, no. because we always know that if we are doing something really difficult, we will get the sponsorship. so, no to that one. in terms of this health thing you bring up, it is very unfortunate, and the only decent thing about it is it happens to everybody. and a thought, before we end, about the planet — you, more than any other guest i've had on hardtalk, have seen some of the most remote, wildest, most extreme parts of this planet of ours. i wonder whether you,
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in your travels to date, really do feel that our planet is under pressure, is being compromised as never before? utterly. and i'm totally behind the youth, including my daughter who has been in trafalgar square, talking about that sort of thing. you mean, she has been part of extinction rebellion? the effect of animals, as well as humans is dreadful and it's very much there. and we in the arctic, it's more easy to see the difference in the arctic than the antarctic. we've seen huge differences. in the 1970s, i was designing sledges that were somewhat waterproof in case there was a canal. now we are designing canoes, which can be pulled every night and again. so the amount of water in 20 years up there in this huge area of ice, which is shrinking, is enabling people to canoe to the pole instead of travelling overland. are you a supporter
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of extinction rebellion? whose core message is it's no good in mouthing the rhetoric of caring for the planet, we have to change how we live right now? i'm totally in support of the rebellion as long as it doesn't put people off by doing violent things or becoming too like the gilets jaunes. as long as complain and they get politicians to guarantee have people to drive, which is difficult because of their business side, you know, very difficult indeed. but that is what is required — something like extinction rebellion, of old and young, really trying to push the movement to get sensible carbon behaviour, which is against business. and a final thought. are you done? you had to abandon your effort to climb all seven highest peaks on the seven continents because you just weren't well enough to do it, your back gave way. is this the end now for you?
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of that particular one, we've done all the difficult ones, we got beaten by the easy ones because of the old—age factor. i mean, even hillary, a few years after he climbed mount everest, could no longer get about 18,000 feet. my point is, no more expeditions? oh, no. i thought you said... don't exaggerate. no. in terms of that particular one, we done the difficult ones over 29,000 feet. the easy ones at 16, 17, you just, at a certain age, i don't know what goes wrong with you, but you can no longer take altitude above a certain height. if it is not altitude, what challenges can you say? you go back to horizontal, not vertical. have you got one in mind? the poles are all horizontal, not vertical. what is it? i won't tell you, because our enemy, the norwegians, may get there first. laughs
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we will have to wait and find out then. ranulph fiennes, thank you so much for coming on hardtalk. no, thank you. thank you very much. hello there. i think we've got a couple of drier days coming up. some sunshine, but some cold mornings on the way as well. that said, we've still got a legacy of cloudy weather for east anglia and south—east england over the next few hours. a few mist and fog patches, a few patches of drizzle. skies clearing further north, we've already seen temperatures fall well, well below freezing and a sharp and widespread frost across the northern half of the country with showers running in across northern scotland here. the added risk of some icy surfaces to take us into monday. but for monday, it's this ridge
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of high pressure that keeps low pressure at bay to our west and to our east, and that means it should be a fine and dry day for the vast majority of us. now, it might be quite cloudy across the extreme east of england for a time, but for most of us, after that cold and locally frosty start to the day, we're looking at dry and sunny weather. showers for the north—east of scotland, a few running down our north sea coast of england. after that bitterly cold start to the day in the scottish capital, temperatures here only reach around 2 degrees through the afternoon, so it is going to be a cold one for sure. and if anything, monday night, the frost gets more widespread and more intense. some of the sheltered glens in scotland could potentially see temperatures getting down as low as —10 degrees celsius. if that happens, that would be the coldest night of the autumn. now, looking at the weather picture into the middle part of the week, high pressure initially stays with us. but, increasingly, we'll see this low pressure try to make inroads off the atlantic, and that's going to be bringing rain or showers to western areas. but that said, i don't think the rain's going to be
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as troublesome as it has been for much of this autumn. now, we could have some lingering mist and fog patches to start off tuesday. 0therwise, cold and frosty. we'll start to see this band of rain working in across northern ireland, maybe getting into western fringes of wales and perhaps into the extreme west of cornwall as well. but for most, it's another dry day — dry, yes, but still pretty chilly. temperatures, 4 in edinburgh, 4 in hull and a 7 the top temperature in london. heading into wednesday, the rain makes further inroads. so, a better chance of seeing some rain return to wales and south—west england, the rain turning heavier later in the day to northern ireland. with more of a south—easterly breeze blowing through the day, we're going to start to see temperatures lifting by a few degrees. so, highs getting up to around 8 or 9 degrees in london and cardiff, around 8 degrees or so in aberdeen and a 10 for belfast. so, over the next few days, any rain is not likely to be as heavy or persistent as we've seen so often this autumn. cold nights to watch out for, a few fog patches, but it does turn a bit milder later in the week.
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that's your weather.
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this is the briefing, i'm sally bundock. our top stories:
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after a two day standoff with the police protesters at hong kong polytechnic emerge from the building, at least forty are arrested by police prince andrew stands by his exclusive interview to the bbc to defend his friendship with sex offender jeffrey epstein, sources say. it's been seen as deeply damaging. large parts of central venice in italy are once again under water, as another exceptionally high tide inundates the city. and in the business briefing: ford announces its electric dreams, which it hopes will revolutionise and ignite the industry.
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