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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




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...


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...


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...


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...


Joe Jackson, Paul Lamplugh OBE, Myrtle Allen, Daisy Kadibil, Paddy Feeny

Photo: Joe Jackson Matthew Bannister on Joe Jackson who drilled his children into becoming the Jackson Five, but was accused of abusive and violent behaviour by his most successful son, Michael. Paul Lamplugh, whose daughter Suzy was abducted and never found. He worked with his wife to campaign for greater safety for women working alone. Myrtle Allen, the chef who pioneered farm-to-table cooking at her family home in Ireland and became the country's first woman to win a Michelin star. Daisy...


Gennady Rozhdestvensky CBE, Maria Bueno, Gena Turgel, Zhao Kangmin, Leo Sarkisian

Photo: Maria Bueno Matthew Bannister on The conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky who brought Russian music to the UK - and British music to Russia. Maria Bueno, the Brazilian tennis player who won Wimbledon three times. Gena Turgel the holocaust survivor who married one of the British soldiers who liberated her. Zhao Kangmin, the Chinese archaeologist who played an important role in the discovery of the Terracotta Army. Leo Sarkisian the musicologist who travelled across Africa and brought back...


Peter Mayer, Professor Celia Brackenridge OBE, Anthony Bourdain, Leslie Grantham, Teddy Johnson

Photo: Leslie Grantham Tina Daheley on Peter Mayer, the publisher who was given a fatwa for printing 'The Satanic Verses'. Professor Celia Brackenridge, the sports scientist who campaigned for child protection in sport. Anthony Bourdain, American TV chef and author of 'Kitchen Confidential'. Leslie Grantham, the actor better known as 'Dirty Den' in EastEnders. Singer Teddy Johnson, part of the double act with Pearl Carr, who represented the UK in the 1959 Eurovision Song Contest. Archive...


Peter Stringfellow, Graham Corbett, Kate Spade, Lord John Julius Norwich, Eli Avivi

Photo: Peter Stringfellow Tina Daheley on the nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow, who introduced nude table dancing to Britain. Graham Corbett, the first Chairman of Postcomm, and Eurotunnel's chief financial officer. Kate Spade, American fashion designer who rose to fame with her range of handbags in the 1990s. John Julius Norwich, aristocratic man of letters, historian, travel writer and broadcaster. Eli Avivi, self-proclaimed president of the independent state of Achzivland in Israel....


John Ashdown-Hill, Anne Coates OBE, Dr Davida Coady, Samuel F 'Ted' Dabney, Brendan Ingle

Photo: Anne Coates OBE Matthew Bannister on the prolific film editor Anne Coates, who worked on Laurence of Arabia, The Elephant Man and Fifty Shades of Grey. John Ashdown-Hill, the historian who helped to discover the bones of Richard III under a Leicester car park. Dr Davida Coady who travelled the world from Biafra to Honduras helping the sick and starving. Ted Dabney - one half of the partnership that started the successful computer games company Atari Brendan Ingle, the Sheffield based...