300 episodes

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

Last Word BBC Radio 4

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.3 • 201 Ratings

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

    James Lovelock, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Roy Hackett MBE, Dame Olivia Newton-John

    James Lovelock, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Roy Hackett MBE, Dame Olivia Newton-John

    Kirsty Lang on

    James Lovelock (pictured), the scientist and inventor who came up with the Gaia theory.

    Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of the terrorist group Al-Qaeda.

    Roy Hackett MBE, who led the Bristol bus boycott in 1963.

    Dame Olivia Newton-John, the singer and actor who starred in Grease.


    Producer: Emily Finch

    Interviewed guest: Bryan Appleyard CBE
    Interviewed guest: Paul Martin
    Interviewed guest: Lynn Mareno
    Interviewed guest: Professor Kehinde Andrews
    Interviewed guest: Holly Thomas

    Archive clips used: Web of Stories - YouTube channel, James Lovelock - The Gaia Theory (11/17) 17/08/2017; BBC Radio 4, Desert Island Discs - James Lovelock 17/11/1997; AP Archive, USS Cole Attacked 12/10/2000; BBC News, Bombings in New York 11/09/2001; BBC Two, Newsnight - London Bombings 07/07/2005; BBC Radio 4, Six O'clock News 06/10/1981; AP Archive, Muslim Extremists Trial 15/12/1982; PBS News Hour, President George W. Bush - First US strikes in Afghanistan 07/10/2001; CBS News, Biden announces death of Ayman al-Zawahiri 02/08/2022; BBC Ideas, Why I'm still fighting racism at 90 24/01/2019; BBC One, Paul O'Grady's Working Britain 15/08/2013; BBC World Service, Witness - Bristol Bus Boycott 10/10/2019; BBC One, Parkinson - Olivia Newton-John interview 02/12/1978; Paramount Pictures/Robert Stigwood Organisation (RSO)/Allan Carr Production, Grease (Film clip) 1978.

    • 27 min
    Bernard Cribbins OBE (pictured), Diana Kennedy MBE, Sir Colin Blakemore, Nichelle Nichols

    Bernard Cribbins OBE (pictured), Diana Kennedy MBE, Sir Colin Blakemore, Nichelle Nichols

    Matthew Bannister on

    Bernard Cribbins OBE, the much-loved actor known for appearances in The Railway Children and Doctor Who as well as reading countless stories on Jackanory.

    Diana Kennedy MBE, the British-born food writer who dedicated her life to promoting the diversity of Mexican cuisine.

    Sir Colin Blakemore, the neuroscientist who received death threats after speaking out in defence of experiments on animals.

    Nichelle Nichols, the trailblazing African American actor who played Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek.


    Producer: Sofie Vilcins

    Interviewed guest: Jenny Agutter
    Interviewed guest: Helen Lederer
    Interviewed guest: Gabriela Cámara
    Interviewed guest: Fiona Fox

    Archive clips used: EMI Films, The Railway Children 1970; BBC One, Fawlty Towers - The Hotel Inspectors 10/10/1975; BBC, CBeebies - Storm in a Teacup 05/04/2015; Filmfair, The Wombles - One Pair of Feet 23/02/1973; BBC Radio 4, The Food Programme 30/06/2014; Greenwich Entertainment/Submarine Deluxe, Diana Kennedy - Nothing Fancy 2020; BBC Two, The Mind Machine 13/09/1988; BBC Radio 4, Today 08/11/2011; BBC Radio 4, The Life Scientific - Sir Colin Blakemore 08/11/2011; Desilu Productions/Norway Corporation, Star Trek S02E02 Who Mourns For Adonais 27/04/1970; BBC Radio 4, Archive on 4 - Star Trek, The Undiscovered Future 03/09/2016; BBC Radio 1, Nicky Campbell - Nichelle Nichols interview 31/01/1995; NASA, Recruitment Film 1977; Yap Films, Building Star Trek (TV Movie) 2016.

    • 28 min
    Lord David Trimble (pictured), Susie Steiner, Uwe Seeler

    Lord David Trimble (pictured), Susie Steiner, Uwe Seeler

    John Wilson on

    Lord David Trimble, Northern Irish politician who was an architect of the Good Friday Agreement and won a Nobel Peace Prize.

    Susie Steiner, a British crime author who shared her experience of living with a brain tumour.

    Uwe Seeler, captain of the West German football team in 1966 and a hero for his home team of Hamburg.


    Producer: Sofie Vilcins

    Interviewed guest: Lord Dean Godson
    Interviewed guest: Val McDermid
    Interviewed guest: Alan Mullery MBE
    Interviewed guest: Derek Rae

    Archive clips used: British Pathé, 1966 World Cup Final: England vs Germany (Part 1) 1966; BBC Radio 4, Meeting Myself Coming Back - David Trimble 05/03/2017; BBC News Online, Good Friday agreement 10/04/1998; BBC Radio 4, Today - Tony Blair on David Trimble 26/07/2022; ITV.com, Michelle O'Neill on David Trimble's legacy of leadership 26/07/2022; BBC Radio Ulster, Doug Beattie and Sir Jefferey Donaldson on David Trimble 26/07/2022; BBC Radio 4, Great Lives - Elvis Presley 14/08/2007; Peter James TV / YouTube Channel, Susie Steiner interview 02/01/2018; BBC Radio 4, In Touch, Susie Steiner interview 12/04/2016; BBC Radio 4, Open Book - Susie Steiner interview 24/09/2020; BBC Archive, 1966 World Cup Final 30/07/1966; YouTube, Uwe Seeler scores against England - World Cup 1970; HSV / Hamburger SV YouTube Channel, The Life of Uwe Seeler 22/07/2022; YouTube, HSV Team Tribute in memory of Uwe Seeler.

    • 28 min
    Tony Sirico (pictured), José Eduardo dos Santos, Ann Shulgin, Ivana Trump

    Tony Sirico (pictured), José Eduardo dos Santos, Ann Shulgin, Ivana Trump

    John Wilson on

    Tony Sirico, the former armed robber turned actor who found fame playing the role of mobster Paulie Walnuts in ground-breaking television series The Sopranos.

    José Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled Angola as president for 37 years, steering the country through a bloody civil war, and reaping the benefits of an oil boom while being accused of huge levels of corruption.

    Ann Shulgin, a therapist who pioneered the use of psychedelics and MDMA in therapy together with her chemist husband Sasha.

    And Ivana Trump, the Czechoslovakian skier and model whose marriage to Donald Trump made her a fixture of tabloid and society pages for decades.

    Producer: Tim Bano

    Interviewed guest: Fr Robert Sirico
    Interviewed guest: Dr Justin Pearce
    Interviewed guest: Amanda Feilding
    Interviewed guest: Professor David Nutt

    Archive clips used: Paramount Pictures, The First Wives Club (1996); American Playhouse, The Big Bang (1989); NBC Today, 20th Anniversary of 'The Sopranos' 10/01/2019; HBO, The Sopranos (1999); Miramax/ Sweetland Films/ Magnolia Production, Bullets Over Broadway (1994); YouTube, Comício José Eduardo dos Santos - Angola 1992 16/09/2010; BBC Sound Archive, Independence celebrations in Angola 11/11/1975; BBC Radio 4, News 23/02/2002; BBC News Archive, Angola vote in first election for 16 years 05/09/2008; BBC Two, Panorama - The Corrupt Billionaire 25/01/2020; Viveka Films, MDMA The Movie - Promo Clip (2016); CBS News, When Ecstasy was legal 1985; gaiamedia/ YouTube channel, Ask the Shulgins 17/03/2014; BBC One, Wogan - Ivana Trump interview 03/06/1992; CBS Sunday Morning, Ivana Trump interview 08/10/2017; BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour - Ivana Trump interview 03/06/1992; HBO/ Harpo Productions, The Oprah Winfrey Show 25/04/1998; BBC One, Modern Times - The Fame Game 03/01/1996; Del Monte/ Brian Jackson, UK Del Monte pears advert (2014).

    • 27 min
    Shinzo Abe (pictured), Mona Hammond OBE, Lorna de Smidt, Monty Norman

    Shinzo Abe (pictured), Mona Hammond OBE, Lorna de Smidt, Monty Norman

    Kirsty Lang on

    Shinzo Abe - Japan’s longest-serving prime minister who sought to end a wartime legacy of defeat and occupation and to tackle the economy through ‘Abenomics’.

    Actor Mona Hammond is best known for her TV role in Eastenders.

    Lorna de Smidt, the anti-apartheid and anti-racist activist who cut her political teeth in the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa in the late 1960s.

    And Monty Norman - Composer and singer who wrote the James Bond main theme and a string of successful musicals as well.


    Producer: Neil George

    Interviewed guest: Nakano Koichi
    Interviewed guest: Dr Kristin Surak
    Interviewed guest: Michael Buffong
    Interviewed guest: Graham de Smidt
    Interviewed guest: Matthew Sweet

    Archive clips used: BBC News, Report on death of Shinzo Abe, 08/07/2022; BBC Radio 4, The World This Weekend, Votes counted for Japanese election, 29/07/2007; BBC One, Eastenders 25/10/2010; Humphrey Barclay Productions for Channel 4, Desmond's S01E04 26/01/1989; BBC Radio 4, The Archers 28/12/2003; BBC Two, Storm Damage (1989), 23/01/2000; Paramount Pictures/ Albert S. Ruddy Productions/ Alfran Productions, The Godfather Part 1 (1972); BBC Radio 4, News Bulletin19/03/2001; BBC Two Omnibus - Monty Norman interview 17/10/1982.

    • 27 min
    Baroness Greengross OBE (pictured), Sonny Barger, Technoblade, Qin Yi

    Baroness Greengross OBE (pictured), Sonny Barger, Technoblade, Qin Yi

    Matthew Bannister on

    Baroness Greengross, who championed the rights of older people as Director General of the charity Age Concern.

    Sonny Barger, the leading American Hell’s Angel who was arrested 21 times and spent 13 years in prison.

    Technoblade, the young Youtuber who amassed millions of followers for his commentaries on the video game Minecraft.

    Qin Yi, the leading Chinese film star whose career spanned eight decades.


    Producer: Neil George

    Interviewed guest: Gail Perry
    Interviewed guest: Alexandre Kalache
    Interviewed guest: Zhen Zhang
    Interviewed guest: Chris Berry
    Interviewed guest: Deanne Stillman

    Archive clips used: BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour 07/03/2003; BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour 03/03/2004; BBC News, News report on Dementia 03/07/2012; BBC Two, Hell's Angels 04/01/2004; BBC Four, Storyville - Gimme Shelter 11/12/2009; KSAN Radio/ Stefan Ponek/ from Storyville - Gimme Shelter, Sonny Barger Interview 11/12/2009; EricSalasProductions/ YouTube Channel, Sonny Barger Exclusive Interview 08/08/2012; Technoblade YouTube Channel, Minecraft Storymode Season 1 Episode 1 07/01/2019; Technoblade YouTube Channel, "so long nerds" 01/07/2022/; Technoblade YouTube Channel, the hypixel skyblock experience 14/06/2019; BBC Radio 4, Glenda Jackson interviews Peter Brook 19/04/2021; Shanghai Film Studio/ Tianma Film Studio, Woman Basketball Player No 5 (1957); Ningxia Film Group/ Shanghai Film Studios, Railway Guerrilla (1956); China Central Television, Under the Roofs of Shanghai (1982); BBC One, Eastenders 26/05/1997.

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
201 Ratings

201 Ratings

Grandmatriarch ,

Death loses its sting!

The range of people is excellent and interesting: a good listen.

24gizzy ,

Last Word

I love this podcast, inspiring, fascinating, informative. The very best of listening

kelly ,

It’s 2022

In 2022 why dose Matthew Bannister think it’s ok to say “ taken the Micky “ dose he not know that it’s an anti Irish saying from the last century?

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