300 episodes

Biographical series in which guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

Great Lives BBC Radio 4

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.3 • 420 Ratings

Biographical series in which guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

    Holly Walsh on BS Johnson

    Holly Walsh on BS Johnson

    BS Johnson was born in Hammersmith in 1933. A wartime evacuee, he never quite shook a sense of dislocation for the rest of his life. Holly's favourite book, she calls it the gateway drug to his work, is Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry. It's the tale of a disaffected accountant who applies the principles of double-entry book keeping to his own life; any perceived slight permits him to repay the same on somebody else. These stretch from minor acts of personal revenge to poisoning London's water and blowing up the House of Commons.

    "The things I find attractive about him are the things I'm a little bit scared of. His work is so raw - it's so different to how I feel." Holly Walsh

    Joining Holly and Matthew Parris is the novelist Jonathan Coe, author of The Rotter's Club and Like a Fiery Elephant, an award-winning biography of BS Johnson's life.

    The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde

    • 27 min
    Pat Nevin on Johan Cruyff

    Pat Nevin on Johan Cruyff

    Pat Nevin chooses Johan Cruyff who was part of the Dutch revolution of the 1970s. He burst onto the international stage at the 1974 World Cup with an incredible piece of skill against Sweden later dubbed the 'Cruyff turn'. Cruyff went on to play for Barcelona before retiring young only to be forced to return after some poor business investments wiped out his fortune. He played in the States before returning to coach at his beloved Ajax and Barcelona where he amassed more trophies, steadfastly sticking to his brand of 'total football' and changing how the game was played.

    Pat Nevin remembers the gasp of the crowd who witnessed the 'Cruyff turn', and still admires how this thin, intelligent footballer used speed and guile to outwit opponents. But the former Chelsea and Everton great says that it's Cruyff's imprint on the way that football is now played that impresses him most, an influence, Pat says, that can be seen at the top of the Premier League table today with Pep Guardiola's Manchester City playing a version of Dutch 'total football'.

    As Pep himself said about his former Barcelona coach, "Johan Cruyff painted the chapel, and Barcelona coaches since merely restore or improve it."

    The Dutch journalist and author of 'Johan Cruyff: Always on the Attack' Auke Kok, sheds light on Johan's childhood, his early years as an Ajax player, and how Cruyff's stubborn attitude was both a strength and a weakness throughout his life.

    Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Toby Field

    Other guests in the new series include the UK government vaccine taskforce head, Kate Bingham; chef Romy Gill; and BAFTA winner Holly Walsh who has picked the cult sixties writer, BS Johnson.

    • 27 min
    Judy Garland

    Judy Garland

    Susie Boyt picks Judy Garland, the child star who became one of the most famous entertainers of the twentieth century. June 2022 will be the centenary of her birth.

    "All people ever said to me was, ‘You have got to toughen up,'" Susie told us. "You cannot go round nursing these wild cascades of feelings, or you’re never going to have a happy life. Then one day my mother took me to see The Wizard of Oz. It was the first film I ever saw at the cinema, and when I heard Dorothy singing Over the Rainbow, I thought, here is someone whose feelings seem to run as high as my own and she’s not hiding it, she’s not embarrassed by it, she’s not ashamed. She was leading with her feelings as though they were the best thing life contains."

    Joining Susie Boyt is John Fricke, leading Judy Garland expert who put her ability to thrill her audiences far ahead of the many tabloid accounts of her life.

    The presenter is Matthew Parris, the producer in Bristol is Miles Warde

    • 27 min
    Joan Rhodes, strongest woman in the world

    Joan Rhodes, strongest woman in the world

    Joan Rhodes picked by Anna Maxwell Martin, star of Line of Duty and Motherland. Her choice is a lovely surprise, a strongwoman who could rip up phone books and bend nails. There's archive of her holding up 14 stone cricket commentator Brian 'Johnners' Johnstone in 1949 as well as the voice of the woman who knew her well - Triona Holden, author of An Iron Girl in a Velvet Glove. Abandoned by both her parents as a child, Joan Rhodes is an inspiring character who utterly merits her selection here.

    Anna Maxwell Martin is the double BAFTA winning actress who has starred in Bleak House, Poppy Shakespeare and Motherland.

    The presenter is Matthew Parris and the producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.

    • 27 min
    Rob Newman on Franklin D Roosevelt

    Rob Newman on Franklin D Roosevelt

    Comedian and writer Rob Newman is a long-time fan of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who "saved the United States, just in time for the United States to save the world".

    When FDR came into office in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, unemployment stood at more than 25% and drought in the Dust Bowl had decimated American agriculture across the Great Plains. While known for his folksy charm, Roosevelt was a shrewd and determined politician, who transformed federal government, the US financial system and the relationship between the American people and their president forever. His raft of early interventions, known as the New Deal, have become the benchmark for US presidents' first 100 days in office ever since.

    As 'Forester in Chief', FDR's administration initiated mass tree planting and soil conservation - all while providing employment for 3 million young men. Rob talks to Matthew Parris about how FDR's radical and ambitious environmentalism continues to inspire him, and how this man defied his sheltered upper class upbringing to reach out to working Americans and address their struggles directly.

    They are joined by Professor David B. Woolner, Senior Fellow and Resident Historian of the Roosevelt Institute and author of The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and at Peace, to discuss FDR's personal triumphs, his hidden struggles and his international legacy. Could or should he have predicted the divided Europe that followed hot on the heels of a hard-fought peace?

    With thanks to the archivists at the Franklin D Roosevelt Presidential Library.

    Presented by Matthew Parris.

    Produced by Sarah Goodman for BBC Audio Bristol.

    • 27 min
    Mr Manchester Tony Wilson nominated by Terry Christian

    Mr Manchester Tony Wilson nominated by Terry Christian

    He was a broadcaster, music mogul, social activist, local celebrity, publicity seeker, loud mouth, surreal politician, showman and, according to Paul Morley, "a great resourceful man of the north." Now Terry Christian provides a passionate account of why he was also a great life. This was certainly an extraordinary life, and by the end even presenter Matthew Parris is won round.

    Produced by Miles Warde

    • 27 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
420 Ratings

420 Ratings

Geoplanter ,

Biographical malpractice by Suzy Klein

I listened to the biography of the late, great Austrian actress, Hedy Lamarr, as told by Suzy Klein. I consider it biographical malpractice that she left out the very significant fact that Hedy was born Hedwig Kiesler, to a Jewish family! Her first husband was an arms merchant, Friedrich Mandl. He was half-Jewish through his father. In addition, Mandl actually did some arms business with Mussolini and Hitler! The reason these ethnic facts are so significant is because when she came into her own an as actress, the pre-war Nazi period was her milieu. Anyway, that was quite an omission.

PaulPD7 ,

Surprised

So many angry reviews, relax people it’s just an opinion that’s not in line with your own. Such an enjoyable light hearted show. Thank you Matthew!!

Peterson3018 ,

FDR

They left some things out with FDR:
Executive Order 9066
On February 19, 1942, FDR issued Executive Order 9066, which led to the forced relocation of approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans living on the West Coast. More than two-thirds of these people were native born American citizens. They were confined in inland internment camps operated by the military.

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