Lunch with the FT: John Oliver

Illustration by Sam Kerr of John Oliver
©Sam Kerr

The satirical news anchor talks about failure in England, hosting his own US show and why his comedy isn’t activism

Illustration by Patrick Morgan of Christiana Figueres
©Patrick Morgan

Christiana Figueres, UN official

Can the UN’s top climate change official save the world from catastrophe?

Illustration by James Ferguson of Bill Burns
©James Ferguson

Bill Burns, diplomat

On predicting chaos in Iraq and the ‘adrenaline rush’ of international diplomacy. By Gideon Rachman

Illustration by James Ferguson of Sepp Blatter
©James Ferguson

Sepp Blatter, Fifa’s suspended president

His reputation may be spoiled but his legacy is intact, insists the suspended president of Fifa over ‘Mama Blatter’s salad’ in Zurich

James Ferguson illustration of Ben Bernanke
©James Ferguson

Ben Bernanke, former Fed chairman

After fighting financial fires, the former Fed chief is glad to no longer be making ‘tough calls’. Martin Wolf meets him in Chicago

Novak Djokovic illustration by James Ferguson
©James Ferguson

Novak Djokovic, tennis player

Peter Aspden joins Novak Djokovic on his private jet — and on court — to find out what it’s like to be the world’s number one tennis player

James Ferguson's illustration of Jonathan Franzen
©James Ferguson

Jonathan Franzen, author

What is it about the great American novelist that provokes such strong reactions? Lucy Kellaway meets him for mackerel and mullet in London

Sam Kerr's illustration of Marian Goodman
©Sam Kerr

Marian Goodman, gallerist

Over chicken in Paris, the grande dame of American art talks to Jackie Wullschlager about Richter, radicalism and today’s over-moneyed market

Seb Jarnot's illustration of Ta-Nehisi Coates
©Seb Jarnot

Ta-Nehisi Coates, author

The American writer hailed as the intellectual heir to James Baldwin has moved to Paris. Over ‘le cheesecake’, he talks to Simon Kuper about race, riots and Barack Obama

Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general

Over sea bream in New York, the UN’s secretary-general talks about refugees, red tape and his own remarkable journey

Jed Rakoff, judge

The judge known for holding Wall Street to account is determined to fight the ‘evil’ of mass incarceration in America

Ian Hannam, former JPMorgan banker

Fined for disclosing inside information, the banker has a ‘Big Boy’ breakfast in west London — and his eyes fill with tears

Mary-Kay Wilmers, literary editor

Over artichoke risotto in Marylebone, the formidable editor of the London Review of Books talks to Lucy Kellaway about controversy, literary neighbours and Helena Bonham Carter

U Win Htein, aide to Aung San Suu Kyi

Over rare steaks and red wine, one of Aung San Suu Kyi’s closest aides talks about his military past and whether ‘the Lady’ is too big a figure in Myanmar’s opposition

Mariana Mazzucato, economics professor

Over duck and Pouilly-Fumé in London, the economist talks about ‘austerity craziness’ and Silicon Valley ‘free-riding’

Neil Shen, venture capitalist

At the offices of a drone maker, the billionaire investor talks about China’s market meltdown and why he gives money to ‘small, fast fish’

Mhairi Black, MP

Over chicken korma in London, Britain’s youngest MP since 1832 talks about Scottish nationalism, her meteoric ascent into Westminster and pub politics

The Fat Jew, Instagram celebrity

Over cocktails at a New York strip club, the online superstar explains why big brands want to cash in on his profane humour

Beppe Grillo, politician

Over seafood in Sardinia, the head of Italy’s biggest protest party talks about comedy and corrupt politics

Sheikha Moza, philanthropist

Qatar’s former first lady talks about her expanding education empire, foreign ‘hypocrisy’ and ‘how to deal with wealth’


This column is a weekly interview in the Life & Arts section with leading cultural and business figures.

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