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

Last Word BBC

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

    Jackie Mason (pictured), John Woodcock, Dinah Murray, Billy Lacey

    Jackie Mason (pictured), John Woodcock, Dinah Murray, Billy Lacey

    Matthew Bannister on

    Jackie Mason, the comedian and former rabbi whose observations of Jewish life took him from the Borscht Belt to Broadway.

    John Woodcock, the veteran cricket writer who reported on some of the greatest matches of the twentieth century.

    Dinah Murray, a tireless campaigner for the rights of autistic people.

    Billy Lacey, thought to be the last of the Norfolk marshmen who used traditional methods to clear dykes and cut reeds.


    Producer: Neil George

    Interviewed guest: Michael Goldfarb
    Interviewed guest: Jonathan Agnew
    Interviewed guest: Fergus Murray
    Interviewed guest: Dr Rebecca Wood
    Interviewed guest: Sue Goodchild

    Archive clips used: 20th CENTURY FOX, Simpsons episode 8F05, 1991; WARNER, The World According To Me, 1987; YouTube, A Bi Geznut The Genius Which is Jackie Mason; Angel/EMI, Look Who's Laughing - Live at the London Palladium, 1997; SPORTS BOOK AWARDS, John Woodcock, 2018; WISEArchive, Bill Lacey interview, 2021.

    • 28 Min.
    Gillian Sheen (pictured), William 'Twink' Allen, Lawrence 'Benny' Goodman, Alan Lewis

    Gillian Sheen (pictured), William 'Twink' Allen, Lawrence 'Benny' Goodman, Alan Lewis

    Matthew Bannister on

    Gillian Sheen, the first and only British person to win an Olympic Gold Medal for fencing.

    Professor William 'Twink' Allen, the equine fertility expert whose request for permission to clone a horse was turned down by regulators.

    Squadron Leader Lawrence 'Benny' Goodman, the bomber pilot who flew highly dangerous missions with the 617 squadron during the second world war.

    Alan Lewis, the publisher and editor who presided over some of the most successful music magazines of the late twentieth century, including 'Sounds', 'NME' and 'Kerrang!'.

    Producer: Neil George

    Interviewed guest: Bruce Donaldson
    Interviewed guest: Malcolm Fare
    Interviewed guest: Richard Greenwood
    Interviewed guest: Dr. Robert Owen
    Interviewed guest: James Brown

    Archive clips used: BRITISH FENCING interview, 2012; PATHE, Olympian wins at foil competition, 1957; CSA The Melbourne Rendezvous film, 1956; Global Entertainment Test Tube Foals, 2016; MYFOOTAGE.COM Bombers Sink Nazi Battleship, 1944; PATHE RAF's New 10 Ton Bomb, 1945; EMAP Kerrang! UK advert, 2007.

    • 28 Min.
    Jehan Sadat (pictured), Michael Horovitz, Richard Ernst, Dilip Kumar

    Jehan Sadat (pictured), Michael Horovitz, Richard Ernst, Dilip Kumar

    Matthew Bannister on

    Jehan Sadat, the wife of president Anwar Sadat of Egypt, who campaigned for women’s rights, supported the disabled and disadvantaged people and forged an academic career.

    Michael Horovitz, the anarchic poet who staged chaotic 'happenings' and supported new talent.

    Richard Ernst, the Swiss chemist who won the Nobel prize for his work on nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

    Dilip Kumar, the Bollywood actor known as 'the king of tragedy'.

    Producer: Neil George

    Interviewed guest: Noah Bakr
    Interviewed guest: Shibley Telhami
    Interviewed guest: Adam Horovitz
    Interviewed guest: John Hegley
    Interviewed guest: Matthias Ernst
    Interviewed guest: Professor Kurt Wüthrich
    Interviewed guest: Anil Sinanan

    Archive clips used: ABC NEWS, 06/10/1980; SPINE TV, 21/12/2011;
    Optic Nerve Ltd 2011-2021; Martin Packard, You Tube 2010; Devdas film, 1955;
    Kohinoor film, 1960; Mughal-E-Azam film, 1960.

    • 27 Min.
    Donald Rumsfeld (pictured), Menelik Shabazz, Elizabeth French

    Donald Rumsfeld (pictured), Menelik Shabazz, Elizabeth French

    Matthew Bannister on

    Donald Rumsfeld, the US Secretary of Defense who challenged the military bureaucracy, advocated the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and was blamed for many of the failings of that operation.

    Menelik Shabazz, the pioneering film director who supported the careers of many other black film makers.

    Elizabeth French, the archaeologist who was a leading expert on the pottery of the ancient Greek city of Mycenae.

    Producer: Neil George

    Interviewed guest: Justin Webb
    Interviewed guest: Andrew Cockburn
    Interviewed guest: Joy Francis
    Interviewed guest: David Somerset
    Interviewed guest: John Bennet

    Archive clips used: C-SPAN 19/03/2003; CNN 02/12/2002; AP 13/05/2004;
    Step Forward Youth 1977 by Menelik Shabazz; Burning an Illusion 1981 by Menelik Shabazz;
    Blood Ah Go Run 1981 by Menelik Shabazz; Autumn Breeze Movies, Mycenaean War and Peace 24/05/2010;
    Introduction to Mycenaeans and Mycenaean Culture, History with Cy 21/06/2019; History Victorum,
    The Citadel of Mycenae 04/06/2020.

    • 27 Min.
    John McAfee (pictured), Trần Thiện Khiêm, Karla Burns, Horace 'Lyle' Hutley

    John McAfee (pictured), Trần Thiện Khiêm, Karla Burns, Horace 'Lyle' Hutley

    Matthew Bannister on

    The controversial American businessman John McAfee who made his first fortune selling anti-virus software, retreated into a compound in Belize where he was suspected of links with organised crime, campaigned to win the Presidential nomination for the Libertarian party and was found hanged in a Spanish prison cell after facing extradition on fraud and tax evasion charges.

    General Trần Thiện Khiêm, a key player in the 'snake pit' of coup and counter coup that destabilised the government of South Vietnam during the war of the 1960s.

    Karla Burns, the Broadway and West End singer who became the first black person to win an Olivier Award.

    Horace 'Lyle' Hutley, thought to be the last surviving prisoner of war who worked on the infamous bridge over the River Kwai.

    Producer: Neil George

    Interviewed guest: Michael Carlson
    Interviewed guest: Nanette Burstein
    Interviewed guest: Professor Lien-Hang T. Nguyen
    Interviewed guest: Bill Ripper
    Interviewed guest: Allan Mallinson

    Archive clips used: CNBC News, 24/06/2021; Soft Focus with Jena Friedman, Adult Swim 2019; John McAfee on Larry King, Ora TV 11/03/2016; President Johnson Speaks on the Vietnam Crisis, British Pathe 1964; The Fall of Saigon, CBC News 1975; One On One, PBS 02/01/2019; It’s All Good With Sierra, Wichita Public TV 14/06/2012; The Battle of Dunkirk, British Pathe 1940; The Fall of Singapore, British Pathe/Gaumont/Reuters 1942; Far East Prisoners of War Return Home, British Movietone 11/10/1945.

    • 28 Min.
    Kenneth Kaunda, Janet Malcolm, Penny Kemp, Bob Swash

    Kenneth Kaunda, Janet Malcolm, Penny Kemp, Bob Swash

    Pictured: President Kenneth Kaunda

    Matthew Bannister on

    The Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda who fought for independence then ruled his country for nearly thirty years, but was voted out of office in the first multi-party elections of 1991.

    Janet Malcolm, the American writer whose works questioned the ethics of journalists and biographers, including herself.

    Penny Kemp, who brought passion and professionalism to the campaigns of the Green Party.

    Bob Swash, the theatre producer whose hits included Evita and Blood Brothers.

    Producer: Neil George

    Interviewed guest: Maureen Nkandu
    Interviewed guest: Katie Roife
    Interviewed guest: Darren Johnson
    Interviewed guest: Caroline Lucas
    Interviewed guest: Michael Coveney
    Interviewed guest: Willy Russell

    Archive clips used: Zambian Independence Celebrations, BBC Archives, October 1964; Reading Chekhov, Radio 3 08/07/2004; A Brunch Conversation with Janet Malcolm, Kelly Writers’ House 19/03/2013; Today, Radio 4 13/09/2002; Greens On The Record, BBC One 24/09/1989; The World This Weekend, Radio 4 16/04/2006; Taking Issue, BBC Radio Scotland 30/01/1986.

    • 28 Min.

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