The Inventory: Ben Fogle

Ben Fogle, 39, has presented TV programmes including Countryfile and Extreme Dreams. He has published five books, and his sporting achievements include rowing across the Atlantic (2005) and crossing Antarctica on foot (2008-09).

What was your earliest ambition?

To be a veterinary surgeon like my father or an actor like my mother.

Public school or state school? University or straight into work?

Bryanston School in Dorset. Coming from a very warm, close family, it was hard for the first year. I was a very shy, reserved individual, I’ve never been academically endowed, but it was the making of me. I have a degree in Latin American studies from the University of Portsmouth.

Who is your mentor?

Kate Humble, the first TV presenter I ever worked with. She’s become godmother to my children. James Cracknell, the Olympic rower – teaming up with him changed the course of my life and my outlook. I’d be wrong if I didn’t mention my parents and my grandmother too.

How physically fit are you?

It waxes and wanes. I try to keep a general fitness level; I never know when I’m going to be asked to run a marathon or do a bike ride.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

To be honest, I’m not sure I have a lot of talent – but I have drive.

Have you ever taken an IQ test?

No. I dread to think what my result would be.

How politically committed are you?

I’m apolitical. I’ve got opinions on most subjects but they don’t fall within one political belief or system. There are causes I believe in passionately; I’ve been fighting the cause of the exiled Chagos Islanders.

Do you consider your carbon footprint?

Yes, and it gnaws away at my conscience, because it’s impossible for me to do my job without creating a significant carbon footprint through air travel.

Do you have more than one home?


What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

A puppy. I lost my dog Inca last summer and I’m just about ready to fill that yawning gap.

What’s your biggest extravagance?

I do love interior design – maybe it’s a reaction to being away so much. And I was never into watches in the past but there’s something about having a thing of beauty on your wrist.

In what place are you happiest?

Home, especially with the children.

What ambitions do you still have?

Plenty. Without ambitions, you’d be nothing.

What drives you on?

Fear of failure – and having a family has changed my aspirations. I want them to be proud of me and to give them the opportunities I’ve had.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

My first book, given that I failed all my exams and was dyslexic. And rowing across the Atlantic: I was hopelessly unsporty at school.

What has been your greatest disappointment?

If I hadn’t had disappointments, my life would have taken a different course. I’m a believer in destiny.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would he think?

“Wow. No way.”

If you lost everything tomorrow, what would you do?

I’d head to the wilds of Africa, live on a reserve and work as a guide.

Do you believe in assisted suicide?

Yes. The ultimate human freedom is making your own choices.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

I’d like to.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?


Ben Fogle is campaigning to keep Britain’s beaches “barefoot friendly”. Details at

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