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Biography: Benedict Allen - Read interview

Benedict Allen


Others say

"The points you made on teamwork and the power of the individual, plus your enthusiasm gave perfect motivation and start to our conference"
Chief Executive, Sericol Ltd

"The audience was spellbound with inspiration"

"The best feedback I have ever received. He is extraordinary"
Scottish Amicable

Benedict Allen's after dinner speeches are full of tales of exploration and adventure, as well as invaluable and inspirational business lessons.

Exploring and adventuring have been on Benedict’s radar since his earliest days. Adventure holidays at school paved the way for his dreams, which eventually came into fruition when he was chosen by the BBC to front their Skeleton Coast series, where he walked the 2000 mile Namibian coast with three camels, and immersed himself in tribes he came across, with no maps or communication equipment, except a camera to document his travels and experiences with remote tribes.

"We were enthralled by Benedict's keynote presentation at the conference. Benedict scored by far the highest marks of all the presenters. He was described as inspirational, an excellent spirit lifter"
UK Marketing Manager, Progress Software Ltd

Benedict has trekked through the most remote parts of Siberia, through the Mongolian Steppe and Altai mountains, and has crossed the Gobi desert alone. He has been close to death on many occasions, including when he was beaten every day for six weeks as part of the Niowra initiation rite in New Guinea, and was slashed with bamboo blades on his chest and back, leaving him with ‘crocodile’ scars.

Reporting his exploits on TV gives Benedict’s adventures a voice and a purpose. In BBC’s Ice Dogs, he had to earn the trust and respect of his ten dogs, from whom he was separated in a blizzard, Benedict narrowly survived crossing the Bering Straits.

Benedict has written a number of books including Into the Abyss, and Into the Crocodile Nest: A Journey Inside New Guinea.

For further information or to book Benedict Allen, call us at Speakers Corner on +44 (0)20 7607 7070 or email info@speakerscorner.co.uk

Interview with Benedict Allen


What’s the worst thing that has happened to you during an event?


That same event. I was very nervous in front of my first audience, opened my mouth to begin my speech – then suddenly a sash window behind me slammed down with the noise of a bomb exploding. The audience and I jumped with fright, then sighed with relief. It broke the tension, and I cracked a joke about it being more dangerous here than in the jungle and it perfectly set up the rest of my speech.


Can you remember your first speaking engagement?


When I was just 23, it was a Literary Luncheon with actor Donald Sinden – I was famous as the “man who ate his dog to survive”, a Daily Mail centre spread at the time.


What was the last event you spoke at?


Last night, a leadership summit of EDF (the energy giant)


Which event has been your favourite and why?


To a packed theatre in Belfast – seven thousand children who were totally out of control and scary at the beginning but by the end were listening with their jaws dropped.


If you could speak at any event, past or future, what would it be?


To open a G8 summit in which our leaders have sworn in writing to save the Amazon


Which speaker/performer do you most admire and why?


Peter Snow, the broadcaster – he has an enthusiasm about him which is utterly genuine and infectious.


What is your worst on-stage habit?


Jumping on to the stage instead of talking the safe little steps that you are provided with – I can’t wait to get up there, and I’m very tall. Perhaps it suits an adventurer to bound onto stage, but I’ve been known to fall off again


What annoys you most professionally?


When a dinner goes on too long, and by the time you get to speak, your audience is drunk!


Do you have any riders or special requirements?


No, but people somehow assume I’m a vegetarian – because I live with remote “tribal” people. In fact of course I eat monkeys, parrots, snakes, you name it…


Why should an organiser hire you to speak at their event?


These are extremely testing times, and (modesty aside!) no-one has more experience than me of surviving against the odds – I’ve been shot at by drug barons, been left to die by guides, stitched up my own wounds with my boot-mending kit, even had to eat my dog to survive. I enjoy convincing an audience, though my passion and through these adventures, that crises (whether in business or in the real jungle) need not be a bad thing: we are more alive when we are really up against it. At a more personal level, I want the audience to understand that life’s not about how many times you almost die, it’s about how many times you live.

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