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Last Word


Radio 4's weekly obituary programme, telling the life stories of those who have died recently

Radio 4's weekly obituary programme, telling the life stories of those who have died recently
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London, United Kingdom




Radio 4's weekly obituary programme, telling the life stories of those who have died recently




Aubrey Manning, Max Levitas, Babs Beverley, Janet Paisley, Stan Lee

Pictured: Stan Lee Matthew Bannister on The naturalist and expert on animal evolution Aubrey Manning who presented the acclaimed BBC TV series Earth Story. The Jewish Communist campaigner Max Levitas who fought Oswald Moseley's fascist blackshirts. The singer Babs Beverley - one third of the close harmony singing group the Beverley Sisters. Janet Paisley the poet and novelist known for her work in the Scots language. Stan Lee - revered creator of comic book icons like Spiderman, the X-Men...


Lord Heywood, Pamela Lonsdale, Sangharakshita, Tom Jago, Francis Lai

Pictured: Lord Heywood Matthew Bannister on Lord Heywood, the senior civil servant who worked with four Prime Ministers: Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May. Pamela Lonsdale, the children's TV producer who brought us Rainbow. Sangharakshita, the British born Buddhist leader whose reputation was tarnished by allegations of sexual misconduct with his students. Tom Jago, the drinks marketeer who developed Bailey's Irish Cream, Malibu and Le Piat D'Or. And Francis Lai, the...


Wanda Ferragamo, Wim Kok, Ntozake Shange, Mohamed Sahnoun, Keith Killby

Pictured: Wanda Ferragamo Matthew Bannister on Wanda Ferragamo - who took over her husband's successful Italian shoe making business and turned it into a global fashion brand. Wim Kok, the Dutch prime minister whose career was overshadowed by the Srebrenica massacre. The writer Ntozake Shange, best known for her choreopoem "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf". The Algerian diplomat Mohamed Sahnoun who played a key role in ending several conflicts in...


Anthea Bell OBE, Captain Michael Howard, Baroness Hollis of Heigham, Cicely Berry CBE, Tony Hiller

Pictured: Baroness Hollis Matthew Bannister on Anthea Bell who translated the works of Freud and Kafka into English - but was even better known for making Asterix the Gaul funny in his second language. Captain Michael Howard, the intelligence officer who was part of T-Force which was set up after the second world war to seize German assets and bring them back to the UK. Baroness Hollis, the Labour peer who campaigned for the poor and disadvantaged. Cicely Berry, the voice coach who trained a...


Paul Allen, Dr Mary Midgley, Leon Lederman, Roger Mainwood

Pictured: Paul Allen Matthew Bannister on Paul Allen who teamed up with his school friend Bill Gates to found the computer software company Microsoft. After he left, he used his billions to support medical research, education and an American football team. Mary Midgley, the philosopher who wrote about the relationship between humans and animals and enjoyed lively debates with her colleagues. Leon Lederman, the physicist who won the Nobel prize for his work on the neutrino and described the...


Ray Galton, Professor Gerald Russell, Evelyn Anthony, Sir Roger Gibbs, Montserrat Caballé

Pictured: Montserrat Caballé Matthew Bannister on Ray Galton, who, with his writing partner Alan Simpson, created Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son. Paul Merton pays tribute. Gerald Russell, the psychiatrist who was the first to describe the eating disorder bulimia nervosa. Evelyn Anthony, the novelist whose historical romances sold millions of copies. The financier Sir Roger Gibbs, who transformed the fortunes of the Wellcome Trust. And the Spanish opera singer Montserrat Caballé, who...


Charles Aznavour, Dr Charles Kao, Elizabeth de Mauny Wainwright, John Cunliffe

Pictured: Charles Aznavour Matthew Bannister on Charles Aznavour, the French singer who "made despair popular". The lyricist Don Black, who worked with him, pays tribute. Dr. Charles Kao, the Nobel prize winning physicist who developed fibre optic technology, so paving the way for the world wide web. Elizabeth de Mauny Wainwright, the pioneering foreign correspondent who helped to smuggle an interview with Solzhenitsyn out of Soviet Russia. John Cunliffe, the writer who delighted generations...


Chas Hodges, MJ Long, Arthur Mitchell, Rick Turner, Rachid Taha

Pictured: Chas Hodges Matthew Bannister on Chas Hodges, the session musician who became one half of the cockney duo Chas and Dave and had hits like Gertcha and Rabbit. M.J. Long the American-born architect who co-designed the British Library, the National Maritime Museum and studios for some of the UK's best known artists. Arthur Mitchell, the first African American principal dancer in a major ballet company and founder of the Dance Theater of Harlem. Rick Turner, the archaeologist who...


Denis Norden, Diane Leather, Johnny Kingdom, Fenella Fielding

Pictured: Denis Norden Andrea Catherwood on Denis Norden, the television presenter and comedy writer who made Britain laugh for half a century. Diane Leather, the first woman in the world to break the 5-minute mile, just 23 days after Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute barrier, but achieved much less acclaim. Johnny Kingdom, the poacher turned filmmaker who enthralled TV audiences with his love and knowledge of wildlife in his native Exmoor and beyond, and became an unlikely celebrity in the...


Lady Coleridge, Jalaluddin Haqqani, Jacqueline Pearce, Lord Thomas of Macclesfield, Stan Brock

Pictured: Jacqueline Pearce Matthew Bannister on Lady Coleridge, the nurse and adventurer who explored the Congo river with Colonel John Blashford-Snell. He pays tribute. Jalaluddin Haqqani, the Afghan warlord who was backed by the CIA to fight the Soviets but sided with the Taliban after the civil war. Jacqueline Pearce, the actor best known for playing villains in "Blake's Seven" and "Dr Who". Lord Thomas, the Chief Executive who introduced ethical banking at the Co-op. And Stan Brock ,...


Burt Reynolds, Lord Peter Melchett, Rita Borsellino, Ajit Wadekar

Pictured: Burt Reynolds Matthew Bannister on The prolific career of the movie star Burt Reynolds. The 'Deliverance' director John Boorman pays tribute. The environmental campaigner Lord Melchett who, as executive director of Greenpeace, was arrested during a protest against GM crops. The Italian anti-mafia campaigner Rita Borsellino who took up the cause after her brother was killed by a car bomb. And the Indian cricket captain Ajit Wadekar, who led the national side to victory against the...


Lindsay Kemp, John Calder, Hilary Lister, John Calcutt, Neil Simon

Pictured: Lindsay Kemp Julian Worricker on: The dancer and choreographer, Lindsay Kemp, who worked alongside David Bowie and Kate Bush. John Calder, the influential publisher, who championed avant-garde authors and battled censorship. The record-breaking sailor, Hilary Lister, who became the first quadriplegic person to sail across the English Channel. John Calcutt, who shaped the contemporary visual art scene in Scotland at the Glasgow School of Art. And the award-winning American...


Kofi Annan, Janice Tchalenko, Hugh Synge, Helen MacLeod, Hettie Williams

Pictured: Kofi Annan Julian Worricker on: Diplomat Kofi Annan, who rose through the ranks of the United Nations, to serve as its secretary-general for nine years.... Janice Tchalenko, a ceramicist, designer and artist, who bridged the gap between art and large-scale production... The botanist, Hugh Synge, voted one of the 20 most influential British conservationists.... One of the finest harp players of her generation - Helen MacLeod - a champion of the music of the West Highlands of...


Aretha Franklin, VS Naipaul, Winston Ntshona, Nan Joyce

Pictured: Aretha Franklin Matthew Bannister on Sir VS Naipaul, the Nobel prize winning author of acclaimed books including "A House For Mr Biswas" and "A Bend in The River". He was a controversial figure who fell out with some of his fellow writers and was accused of cruelty in his relationships. Nan Joyce, who campaigned for the rights of Ireland's travelling people. Winston Ntshona,, the South African actor who won a Tony award for his Broadway performance in Athol Fugard's play "Sizwe...


Tony Bullimore, Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, Barry Chuckle, June Jacobs, Tommy Peoples

Pictured: Barry Chuckle Matthew Bannister on Tony Bullimore, the self styled "Del Boy of yacht racing" who was trapped under the hull of his boat for 4 days during a solo round the world race. Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, the Japanese American woman who was interned in the USA during the World War Two and later fought for and won a presidential apology and compensation for her fellow inmates. Barry Chuckle - one half of the Chuckle Brothers who entertained a generation of children on TV. June...


Mary Ellis, Shinobu Hashimoto, Dr William McBride AO, CBE, Dr Lincoln Brower, Mahendra Kaul

Pictured: Mary Ellis Matthew Bannister on Mary Ellis - a leading pilot for the Air Transport Auxiliary who risked her life to deliver fighters and bombers during the war. Shinobu Hashimoto, the screenwriter who teamed up with the director Akira Kurosawa to make great classics of Japanese cinema, including the Seven Samurai and Rashomon. Dr William McBride, the Australian obstetrician who raised the alarm about the terrible side effects of the drug Thalidomide. Lincoln Brower who devoted his...


Charles Gimingham, Felicia Langer, Julian Tudor Hart, Anne Olivier Popham Bell, Adrian Cronauer

Pictured: Anne Olivier Popham Bell Julian Worricker on: Charles Gimingham, an environmentalist, described as the foremost expert on heather and moorland landscapes.... Human rights lawyer, Felicia Langer, who represented many Palestinians in the Israeli courts.... Campaigning doctor, Julian Tudor Hart, who pioneered the regular monitoring of blood pressure in patients.... Art historian, Anne Olivier Bell, who edited the five volumes of Virginia Woolf's diaries.... And the real-life Good...


Oliver Knussen CBE, Barbara Harrell-Bond OBE, Sam Chisholm, Steve Ditko, Anna Sándor de Kénos

Pictured: Oliver Knussen Julian Worricker on: British composer and conductor, Oliver Knussen, described as a towering figure in contemporary music.... Barbara Harrell-Bond, who founded and then directed the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University.... The media executive, Sam Chisholm, who drove the development of multi-channel television in Britain.... Steve Ditko, the American artist and writer best known as co-creator of the Marvel Comics superheroes Spider-Man and Doctor Strange......


Lord Carrington, Karen Finch, Claude Lanzmann, Harlan Ellison

Photo: Lord Carrington Matthew Bannister on Lord Carrington, the Conservative Foreign Secretary who resigned after the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands. Karen Finch, the textile conservator who restored the garments of Bonnie Prince Charlie and Marlene Dietrich among many others. Claude Lanzmann, the French film maker best known for Shoah, the nine and a half hour documentary about the holocaust. Harlan Ellison, the outspoken American science fiction writer who published 70 books,...


Dame Gillian Lynne, Peter Firmin, Reinhard Hardegen, Alan Longmuir

Photo: Dame Gillian Lynne Matthew Bannister on: The choreographer Dame Gillian Lynne, best known for her work on Cats and the Phantom of the Opera. Peter Firmin who, with his partner Oliver Postgate, created beloved children's TV characters like the Clangers, Noggin the Nog and Bagpuss. Reinhard Hardegen the last surviving U boat ace who took part in attacks on the East Coast of America in 1942 and Alan Longmuir, founder member of the Bay City Rollers. Archive clips from: Front Row, Radio 4,...