the doctor does little

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.

My favourite Dr Dolittle animal

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….

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41 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. A lovely circle of intrigue Nursey …… the Fiennes are quite an interesting family …… I always get the feeling that sibling/peer rivalry is their main motivation …. either that or they’re barking …….

    • I thought all the peerage was barking….

  2. I didn’t realise that Rex Harrison was such an unpleasant man. His wife sounded pretty vile too.

    As for Sir Ranulph, a DIY amputation was hard core!

    • Well, that quote is just one man’s opinion…..

  3. Does that make Iggy Pop a member of the barking peerage?

    • not nece-celery archie

      • But he IS King of the Dogs.

  4. “that Castle Combe business”

    before i die, i MUST be the instigator of some scandal that is later described as “that such and such business”. i now have a calling in life…. looking for henchmen…. post a resume my way if you’re interested.

    • umm… how about “that Lesbos business”….?

      • Fuel to the fire!!!

      • I’m reading to start spreading rumors right now!!!

  5. ‘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.’

    Now thats a fucking party!

    • yeah, wish I’d been there for that one

  6. ewww…frostbite picture. Way too early in the morning for that.

    Isn’t it interesting that the part of the story that gets out is that his nut was showing.

    • Sorry about the frostbite image bearman, but it wasn’t the most shocking one I found by any means

  7. Poor Ralph. Poor basset. Both lumbered with overpowering women. I feel especially sorry for the basset.

    • He was better off than yesterday’s shark though

  8. You have forever altered my delight in (and impression of) the movie Dr. Doolittle – particularly my view of Rex Harrison. Sigh. Another illusion has bit the dust.

  9. One of the first forwarded email stories I remember getting back in the early internet days when a tale of a man performing a DIY circumcision. Didn’t go quite as well as Ranulph’s home surgery.

  10. It’s pretty cold down here in the country – I bags not getting frostbite. Iggy Pop, larger than life as he is (amazingly, still) cannot compete with the Fiennes folk on which you diligently report. Meanwhile that picture of the sweet donkey with the Janus-llama is very cute.

  11. wow, so many discoveries today. First, I also love the llama and even posted about it once. still get google search links.
    I’m stunned about Rex Harrison.. I loved him in that movie.. recently rewatched My Fair Lady and he’s very misogynistic there!
    And, Ralph Fiennes is the son of the Lord? Interesting.. I find him interesting.. I might have contemplated a little mile-high tomfoolery myself.

    • Yeah, I had no idea he was related to peerage. And I find him .. .interesting… as well. 🙂

      • No, Ralph is his cousin

  12. Ran Fiennes is periodically interviewed on TV and always relates the story of sawing off his own fingers in the shed with a hacksaw.

    He also, against his doctor’s advice, ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days – this was only four months after heart surgery.

    He’s also climbed Everest.

    He’s hugely entertaining when interviewed and comes across as a thoroughly nice chap and a wonderful raconteur.

  13. when i’m “joyfully soused” i’ve been known to wear my bikini as a waistband too!

    • that doesn’t surprise me 😉

  14. This is probably why I don’t pay attention to celebrity “news” (gossip). I prefer to live in blissful ignorance. I don’t want or need to know about Rex Harrison’s anti-Semitism, just as I didn’t want to know exactly how sexist a pig Sean Connery is. I only want to watch the movies, let them have their foibles and peccadillos in peace. I shudder to think what sorts of things would be written about me if someone had been following me around during my youthful escapades!

    We should remember that the lines Rex Harrison spoke in “My Fair Lady” were written in the script, the character was misogynistic and I prefer to think that Mr. Harrison was doing a splendid acting job rather than just being himself on screen.

  15. A nut, a bestial trist, and self-amputation. Ah, the high life!

  16. And to think I had a thing about Rex Harrison after watching ‘Cleopatra’. The swine, the cad, but I’d have swooned nonetheless.

    • oh I always swoon for the cads. damn hormones.

  17. Speechless…

  18. Rachel Roberts eventually killed herself; not before an excellent turn in ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’.

  19. Wow, Iggy Pop does look like a droopy beagel. Thanks.

  20. As long as you are within my memory nurse, such afflictions of frostbite and cutting off limbs will never be necessary.

  21. I neever thought I’d say this, but compared to Iggy, the basset hound is kind of sexy…

  22. Poor Rex Harrison, I think he is a bit maligned there. I remember reading that Kay Kendall was the love of his life, and that after she died of leukemia he fell apart, and didn’t really give a hoot about anything.

    Also, let me recommend two enthralling books, to be read one after the other.

    “Mind Over Matter” by Ranulph Fiennes about his trip across Antarctica with Dr Mike Stroud, and THEN read “Shadows on the Wasteland” by Stroud, telling his side of the story. Fantastic.

    • Intriguing. Do they differ greatly queenie?

  23. I wonder if Fiennes would extract a tooth of mine. I’ve got the fretsaws.

  24. OMG!!! This is the first frostbite pix i’m seeing and it’s certainly changed my mind bout ever attempting everest!

  25. The late Mrs D was related to Max Oldaker, born in Tasmania 1907 – (google him)

    In 1958 he understudied Rex Harrison in the London performances of My Fair Lady.

    When Rex was ‘indisposed’ Max stepped into his shoes. The audiences (and critics) apparently judged his performance to be vastly superior to that of Harrison. After reading the reviews of his understudy’s performance, Harrison made a remarkable ‘recovery’ and Max was never again allowed to play the part of Prof Higgins.

    My opinion of Rex Harrison as a person underwent a change for the worse when I read about this incident involving one of Mrs D’s relatives

  26. And I can’t wait to work wth these…..”types” in show biz.

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