Rosie Boycott's 5×15 is coming back


“True stories of passion, obsession and adventure, recounted live with just two rules: no scripts and only fifteen minutes each” Rebecca Hobson’s review

Autumn season starts September 19

Welcome to 5×15: the brainchild of journalist Rosie Boycott, her daughter (and book editor at The Lady) Daisy Leitch and literary festival promoter Eleanor O’Keeffe.

Running since January 2010, 5×15 is a series of evenings that feature dynamic thinkers from a wide spectrum of spheres.

Past speakers include Alain De Botton, Niall Ferguson, Melvyn Bragg, Mick Hucknall, Janet Street Porter, Howard Jacobson, Ruby Wax, Will Self and Yotam Ottolenghi.

Hosted by Boycott, it takes place at Notting Hill’s The Tabernacle – a delightful 19th century, Grade II listed former evangelical church.

Last night’s offering included left-leaning economist and former editor of The Observer Will Hutton; the celebrated author and historian Bettany Hughes; award-winning Bangladeshi author Tahmima Anam; the satirical cartoonist Gerald Scarfe; and the acclaimed documentary filmmaker Molly Dineen.

Each took us on journeys that were at times nostalgic and humorous (Scarfe), thought provoking and melancholic (Dineen)

The evening didn’t disappoint.

Each speaker delivered a slick yet spontaneous performance – treating the audience to a heady mix of passion and penetrating insight into their selected subjects.

Bettany Hughes had the unenviable task of speaking first. Arguably the most media friendly of the bunch, (Hughes appears regularly on TV and recently published The Hemlock Cup), she enraptured the audience with her monologue on Socrates and his relevance to modern life.

The others followed suit, equally enchanting. Each took us on journeys that were at times nostalgic and humorous (Scarfe), thought provoking and melancholic (Dineen).

Anam’s question “how to write about Muslims?” made the (predominantly) white, middleclass crowd sit up a little straighter, inspiring a little self scrutiny as they did so.

Confrontational yet tempered, Will Hutton finished the evening berating bankers’ bonuses whilst reminding us all of his formidable, take-no-prisoners, approach to journalism.

5×15 is a fantastic event: its bite-size format proves an easily digestible and pleasantly light way to spend a Monday evening. And you learn something too.