Sir Ranulph Twistleton-Wykeham Fiennes was very upset when he heard 20th Century Fox planned to make a film in his picturesque village.
He was seconded into the SAS, and promptly expelled following an unfortunate incident – “that Castle Combe business” – in which he was fined £500 for plotting, with the aid of flares and some plastic explosive, to blow up bits of the set of Dr Dolittle, which was apparently causing enormous inconvenience to the good residents of that idyllic Wiltshire village.
Of course, this escapade is not the only thing that Ranulph is known for. While travelling to the North Pole in 2000, he developed frostbite.
Evacuated by air the following day, Fiennes underwent emergency treatment but was told that he would have to wait five months while the only partially damaged tissue healed and his “gnarled, mummified, witch-like talons” could be safely amputated.
Frostbite (not Ranulph’s) found here
So he decided to do the job himself. “I purchased a set of fretsaw blades at the village shop, put the little finger in my Black & Decker folding table’s vice, and gently sawed through the dead skin and bone just above the live skin line,” he writes. “The moment I felt pain or spotted blood, I moved further into the dead zone. I also turned the finger around several times and cut into it from different sides. This worked well, and the little finger’s knuckle finally dropped off after some two hours of work.” It took him five days to do the rest; a job, he says, well done.
The star of Dr Dolittle was Rex Harrison. During the making of the film, he was invited to present an award at the Directors’ Guild Annual Awards dinner. A limo was booked to pick up Rex and his wife Rachel Roberts and drive them to the ceremony. When the chauffeur rang the doorbell, he discovered the Harrisons were far from ready.
Rex and Rachel were joyfully soused and soaking wet. They had both been drinking in the pool and Rachel answered the door wearing her bikini as a waistband. Rex was wandering around minus his toupee and with his left testicle hanging out of his trunks. The studio sent over a “wrecking crew” of hairdressers, makeup and wardrobe people to make them presentable.
According to Mark Harris, the behind-scenes shenanigans of Mr and Mrs Harrison were legendary.
The man was anti-Semitic, passive-aggressive, alcoholic, avaricious, and egomaniacal. His wife, the severe and perpetually stewed actress Rachel Roberts, was a toxic presence on the set. Apparently in keeping with the movie’s subject, she embarrassed herself with dog yowling imitations, and even got bestial with a basset hound.
Sir Ranulph has a couple of cousins in the movie business, Ralph and Joseph. Ralph is famous for his escapade with a Qantas Flight Attendant.
Actor Ralph Fiennes considers himself to have been the victim of a sexual aggressor in an alleged mile-high sex scandal.
Hos media manager, Sara Keene, declared flight attendant Lisa Robertson had instigated the incident in a toilet cubicle of a Qantas flight between Darwin and Mumbai.
“She initiated the encounter,” Ms Keene said, in the first confirmation from the Fiennes camp that an incident did occur.
“This woman seduced him on a plane. She was the sexual aggressor.”
Reports that Lisa Robertson is the owner of a basset hound may have been greatly exaggerated….