Great Lives: Series 5: Joseph Banks06/25/15
Scientist Lord Robert May nominates the naturalist and botanist, Joseph Banks.
David Blunkett on Louis Braille
Matthew Parris hears why David Blunkett has chosen Louis Braille, the 18th century French boy who blinded himself in his father's workshop, as his great life - with the help of guest expert the RNIB's Kevin Carey. Producer: Maggie Ayre.
PD James by Val McDermid
Val McDermid thinks crime writing is most definitely a suitable job for a woman. She believes women are good at observing the minutiae of life and incorporating them into clue development. Despite writing a book entitled 'An Unsuitable Job For A...
US Ambassador Matthew Barzun on JG Winant
Matthew Parris meets the American Ambassador Matthew Barzun whose choice of great life is his wartime predecessor, John Gil Winant - the man widely held to have helped seal the special relationship between Britain and America and to have brought the...
Antonia Quirke on Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando - greatest actor of the twentieth century ? Film critic Antonia Quirke definitely thinks he is. But the star of the Godfather, On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire divides opinion in this lively assessment of his life. With...
Wendy Cope on John Clare
"John Clare, I cried last night for you" wrote Wendy Cope in a poem dedicated to the earlier poet, who overcame monumental setbacks - including a poverty-stricken upbringing and a long struggle with mental illness - to write some of the most sensitive...
Dame Helen Ghosh on James Lees-Milne
Matthew Parris's guest is Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust, who chooses as her Great Life James Lees-Milne who worked for the Trust between 1936 and 1966. He was responsible for acquiring many of the Trust's most iconic...
Kulvinder Ghir on Zoran Music
Comedian and actor Kulvinder Ghir nominates the life of the artist Zoran Music. Matthew Parris finds out about Music who sketched corpses during and after he survived the horrors of being held at Dachau- a concentration camp in 1944. They are also...
Rachel Johnson on Ottoline Morrell
Rachel Johnson author and journalist champions the life of Ottoline Morrell. The Bloomsbury hostess, a mistress, a dominant figure in the arts without being an artist herself was often mocked and ridiculed. Rachel tells Matthew Parris why her...
Sir Trevor McDonald on Learie Constantine
The veteran broadcaster Sir Trevor McDonald chooses the life of Learie Constantine, the Trinidadian cricketer, politician and broadcaster who championed the rights of West Indians in Britain during the war years and afterwards. Producer: Maggie Ayre.
Mervyn King on Risto Ryti
Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England tells Matthew Parris why the life of the Prime Minister of Finland Risto Ryti was so remarkable. They are also joined by expert and biographer Martti Turtola. Producer: Perminder Khatkar.
Former newspaper editor and writer Eve Pollard tells Matthew Parris why Nora Ephron, the screenwriter of hit films such as 'When Harry Met Sally', 'Heartburn', and 'Sleepless in Seattle', is a Great Life. They are joined by Dr Jennifer Smyth, an...
Michael Dobbs on Guy Burgess
Michael Dobbs champions the life of Guy Burgess - journalist, diplomat and spy. Between 1935 and 1951, Guy Burgess worked for a Conservative MP, the BBC, MI6 and the Foreign Office. Brilliant, flamboyant and apparently shambolic, he also shot like an...
Philippa Langley on Richard III
When Philippa Langley and other members of the Richard III Society helped to discover the body of the king in a Leicester car park, Richard's life once again became a hotly contested debating point. Philippa joins Matthew Parris to defend Richard III...
Writer Roald Dahl is well known as the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr Fox and The BFG, but he was also fascinated by medical science. Professor Tom Solomon, who looked after him during his last illness, spent hours...
Great Lives: Hans Sloane
Sir Mark Walport, the government's Chief Scientific Advisor champions the life of Sir Hans Sloane, founder of the British Museum. Along with expert Marjorie Caygill they tell Matthew Parris why they think Sloane is the mother and father of all...
"Whenever I have too much to drink, I bang on about Dante ...." Sarah Vine makes a choice from the heart - the great Italian writer Dante Alighieri, father of the Italian language and author of the Divine Comedy. Matthew Parris presents, the producer...
Great Lives: Lisa 'Lefteye' Lopes chosen by Sara Cox
Sara Cox nominates Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes, a hip hop artist and rapper, the first on Great Lives. The presenter is Matthew Parris. Producer: Perminder Khatkar. Assistant Producer: Milly Chowles.
Great Lives: Kahlil Gibran chosen by Mark Constantine
Businessman Mark Constantine champions the life of Kahlil Gibran, telling Matthew Parris how the poet has inspired him both at work and throughout his personal life.
Great Lives: Meg Rosoff on Isabella Bird
The novelist Meg Rosoff explains how the pioneering Victorian travel writer Isabella Bird inspired her life, work and love of horses.
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