Sir Ranulph FIENNES (1944-)

Ranulph Fiennes
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Life on Earth

An uncharted look at nature and adventure

THIS IS YOUR LIFE - Ranulph Fiennes, explorer, was surprised by Eamonn Andrews on board the ship Benjamin Bowring, which had been the sea base during the recent three year Transglobe expedition.

Ran was educated first in South Africa and then at Eton. Failing to get enough ‘O’ Levels for a regular commission, he went to Mons Cadet School in Aldershot and then spent a period from 1961 to 1970 in the Royal Scots Greys. Much of this time was spent posted to the SAS and the Sultan’s Armed Forces in Omar fighting Marxist terrorists.

A number of expeditions followed, including The White Nile Hovercraft Expedition in 1969, the Jostedals Parachute Expedition a year later and the British Headless Valley Expedition in 1971.

He undertook the Transglobe Expedition between 1979 and 1982 when he and two fellow members of 21 SAS, Oliver Shepard and Charles Burton, journeyed around the world on its polar axis, using surface transport only – becoming the first explorers ever to do so.

“Oh it's Eamonn, isn't it? What are you doing on board here? You've been wanting to trick me all these years?”

Screenshots of Ranulph Fiennes This Is Your Life

Ranulph Fiennes' autobiography

Ranulph recalls his experience of This Is Your Life in her autobiography, Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know...

Three days after returning home I learned that Transglobe had accumulated debts totaling £106,000. We had no funds to pay them off. This was where Anton Bowring appeared in our hour of need to announce that he considered the expedition complete only when all debts were paid. For the next eighteen months he and Ginny worked full-time to that end, a thankless task, but they eventually even turned a modest profit through sales of T-shirts and old Transglobe gear at Camden Lock street market.

Anton and his wife Jill, the Benjamin Bowring’s cook for three years, became our best friends. Ginny was godmother to their eldest daughter, Mini Ginny, who was conceived during Transglobe. They were to have three daughters, all red-haired like Jill, and collectively known as the Carrots. I meanwhile was writing the expedition book, To the Ends of the Earth, which made the Sunday Times bestseller list.

Bothie achieved fame by nipping TV host Russell Harty and I was decoyed into This Is Your Life. Family and friends assembled from all periods of my past, included Chris Cazenove and Jack McConnell, as well as the history mistress who caught me on Ginny’s school roof in Eastbourne and the entire Transglobe team. Eamonn Andrews’ researchers were put off the military aspects of my life when one asked my former CO in Oman whether he could regurgitate any heart-warming tale of my ‘bravely saving someone’s life’. The colonel replied with vehemence. ‘Saving lives?! Fiennes wasn’t out there to save lives. He was there to kill Communists.’ Not what we would today describe as PC.

programme details...

  • Edition No: 600
  • Subject No: 597
  • Broadcast date: Wed 20 Oct 1982
  • Broadcast time: 7-7.30pm
  • Recorded: Wed 15 Sep 1982
  • Venue: Royalty Theatre
  • Series: 23
  • Edition: 1
  • Code name: Vault

on the guest list...

  • Members of the Transglobe expedition crew
  • Lady Virginia Fiennes – wife
  • Charlie Burton
  • Oliver Shepard
  • Anthony Bowring
  • Giles Kershaw
  • Jackie McConnell
  • Susan Scott - sister
  • Gill Hoult - sister
  • Greville Napier
  • Peter Tooth
  • Lady Audrey Fiennes - mother
  • Gonda Betrix - cousin
  • Christopher Cazenove
  • Margaret Bright
  • Martin Grant-Peterkin
  • Peter Lloyd
  • Hamish McCrae
  • Letter from Sultan of Oman
  • Ella Ritson
  • Celia Brown – sister
  • Letter from HRH Prince Charles
  • Filmed tributes:
  • Maude DeCourcy-Hamilton - aunt
  • Benny Mapin

external links...

production team...

  • Researcher: Charmaine Carter
  • Writers: Tom Brennand, Roy Bottomley
  • Directors: Paul Stewart Laing, Terry Yarwood
  • Producer: Malcolm Morris
names listed in bold indicate subjects of This Is Your Life
Series 23 subjects: Ranulph Fiennes > Diana Dors > Joan Collins > Katie Boyle > Diane Keen > Brian Johnston > Leslie Mitchell > Lewis Collins > Marty Wilde > Catherine Cookson > Allan Wells > Stan Stennett > Gloria Hunniford > Robert Carrier > Johnny Briggs > John P Spencer > Eva Turner > Kenny Dalglish > Gerald Durrell > Jo Grimond > Anna Neagle > Kitty Wilson > Charlie Magri > Sandy Gall > Arthur Marshall > Jimmy Tarbuck