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
    • 4.5 • 30 Ratings

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

    Dame Hilary Mantel, John McVicar, Joyce Reynolds, Paul Sartin

    Dame Hilary Mantel, John McVicar, Joyce Reynolds, Paul Sartin

    Matthew Bannister on

    Dame Hilary Mantel (pictured), the Booker prize winning novelist best known for the Wolf Hall trilogy.

    John McVicar, the former armed robber who studied sociology in prison and became a writer and broadcaster.

    Joyce Reynolds, the eminent Cambridge classicist who specialised in the study of epigraphs and taught Dame Mary Beard who joins us to remember her.

    The multi-instrumentalist and singer Paul Sartin, a key figure on the English folk scene and member of the band Bellowhead. His band mate Sam Sweeney pays tribute.


    Producer: Neil George

    Interviewed guest: Laurie Taylor
    Interviewed guest: Dame Mary Beard
    Interviewed guest: Sam Sweeney
    Interviewed guest: Jon Wilks

    Archive clips used: Company Pictures/ Playground Entertainment/ BBC, Wolf Hall – E01 Three Card Trick 21/01/2015; BBC News, interview with Hilary Mantel 03/05/2020; BBC Radio 4, Front Row – extended interview with Hilary Mantel 05/06/2012; BBC Radio 4, The Reith Lectures – Hilary Mantel 13/06/2017; Polytel/ The Who Films, McVicar (1980) UK TV Trailer; BBC One, Straight Talk – John McVicar interview 09/05/1980; BBC Radio 4, Six Men – John McVicar interview 20/04/1986; Loftsingers Andover, Andover Museum Loft Singers Promo 13/10/2018.

    • 28 min
    Jean-Luc Godard, Barbara Ehrenreich, Dennis Wilson, Mavis Nicholson

    Jean-Luc Godard, Barbara Ehrenreich, Dennis Wilson, Mavis Nicholson

    Kirsty Lang on Jean-Luc Godard (pictured), the critic and filmmaker who revolutionised French cinema.

    The writer and journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, whose bestseller 'Nickel and Dimed', is considered a classic in social justice literature.

    Captain Dennis Wilson, the Normandy veteran whose war poems were ranked alongside Wilfred Owen’s...

    And Mavis Nicholson, the Welsh broadcaster with a knack for making her subjects talk about matters that they had never previously confronted in public.


    Producer: Neil George

    Interviewed guest: Ian Christie
    Interviewed guest: Professor James Williams
    Interviewed guest: Alissa Quart
    Interviewed guest: Professor Tim Crook
    Interviewed guest: Steve Nicholson
    Interviewed guest: Maureen Lipman

    Archive clips used: Les Films de la Pléiade/ Pathé Consortium Cinéma, Vivre Sa Vie (1962) - Trailer; Daphne Productions Inc/ WNET/ Thirteen, The Dick Cavett Show – Interview with Jean-Luc Godard 23/10/1980; Les Films Impéria/ Les Productions Georges de Beauregard/ Société Nouvelle de Cinématographie (SNC), À bout de souffle (1960) - Trailer; Rome Paris Films/ Les Films Concordia/ Compagnia Cinematografica Champion, Le Mépris (1963) - Clip; BBC Radio 3, Night Waves 30/01/2003; BBC Radio 4, Woman’s Hour – Barbara Ehrenreich interview 22/09/2008; BBC Radio 4, Today Programme – Captain Dennis Wilson interview 19/11/2013; Thames TV/ Pineapple Productions, Mavis catches up with Kenny Everett – jingle 15/11/1989; Thames TV/ Channel 4 , Mavis on 4 – Elizabeth Taylor interview 10/02/1988; Thames TV, Afternoon Plus – David Bowie interview 16/02/1979; BBC Wales, Being Mavis Nicholson: TV’s Greatest Interviewer 25/08/2016.

    • 28 min
    Bill Turnbull, Anne Sutton, Norah Vincent, Drummie Zeb

    Bill Turnbull, Anne Sutton, Norah Vincent, Drummie Zeb

    Matthew Bannister on

    Bill Turnbull (pictured), the journalist and BBC Breakfast presenter who was also a beekeeper and committed fan of Wycombe Wanderers.

    Anne Sutton, whose detailed studies of the life and times of King Richard III transformed his reputation.

    Norah Vincent, who wrote a best-selling book about her experience of living as a man for eighteen months and then suffered a mental breakdown.

    Drummie Zeb, the drummer and vocalist with the British reggae band Aswad.


    Producer: Neil George

    Interviewed guest: Sian Williams
    Interviewed guest: Wendy Moorhen
    Interviewed guest: Justine Hardy
    Interviewed guest: Brinsley Forde

    Archive clips used: BBC One, BBC Breakfast 27/04/2001; BBC News, London Bombs at Kings Cross 08/07/2005; BBC Three, Strictly Dance Fever on Three 01/04/2006; BBC One, BBC Breakfast - Bill Turnball talks about cancer 21/12/2018; WeTalkWycombe/ YouTube Channel, Best Wycombe Wanderers Chants! 06/07/2020; BBC One, BBC Breakfast 23/01/2007; BBC One, Celebrity Mastermind 01/01/2008; London Film Production/ L.O.P., Richard III (1955) film; Quite Frankly Productions/ BBC Hardtalk Extra, Norah Vincent 21/04/2006; ABC News, Self-Made Man: Norah Vincent 2006; Elephant House Studios/ Tribute, Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Concert 11/06/1988.

    • 28 min
    Mikhail Gorbachev, Stella 'Jaye' Edwards, Jerry Allison

    Mikhail Gorbachev, Stella 'Jaye' Edwards, Jerry Allison

    Matthew Bannister on

    The last President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev (pictured), who was feted in the West but often derided in his own country. We follow his journey from a collective farm in Stavropol to momentous times in the Kremlin, including the introduction of Perestroika and Glasnost, the end of the Cold War and the coup that toppled him from power.

    Stella 'Jaye' Edwards, who was the last surviving British woman pilot who delivered planes from factories to front line bases during the second world war.

    Jerry Allison, the drummer and songwriter with Buddy Holly and the Crickets, whose girlfriend inspired their hit song 'Peggy Sue'.


    Producer: Neil George

    Interviewed guest: Bridget Kendall
    Interviewed guest: John Eames Petersen
    Interviewed guest: Geoff Barker

    Archive clips used: BBC Radio 4, Today programme 31/08/2022; BBC Two, Newsnight 30/08/2022; CNN - Larry King, Mikhail Gorbachev interview November 1993; UVA Miller Center, President Ronald Reagan speech on the Geneva Summit 21/11/1985; Pizza Hut, Gorbachev TV spot commercial January 1998; Juno Beach Centre / YouTube Channel, Jaye Edwards interview 19/02/2019; British Pathé, Sir Stafford Cripps and the A.T.A. (1943); Geoff Barker Archives, Jerry Allison interview.

    • 28 min
    Margaret Keane, Keith Smith, Mario Fiorentini, Brenda Fisher

    Margaret Keane, Keith Smith, Mario Fiorentini, Brenda Fisher

    Matthew Bannister on

    Margaret Keane (pictured), the American artist whose paintings of children with 'Big Eyes' became hugely popular in the 1960s. Her identity as the painter was kept secret by her husband who claimed the works as his own.

    Keith Smith, the market trader who co-founded the Poundland chain of shops.

    Mario Fiorentini, Italy’s most decorated partisan, who risked torture and death to fight the German occupation of his country.

    Brenda Fisher, the long distance swimmer from Grimsby who became an international celebrity after breaking the women’s speed record for swimming the English Channel.


    Producer: Emily Finch

    Interviewed guest: Larry Karaszewski
    Interviewed guest: Steve Smith
    Interviewed guest: Philip Cooke
    Interviewed guest: Alessandro Portelli
    Interviewed guest: Lucy Wood
    Interviewed guest: Peter Winchester MBE

    Archive clips used: Westinghouse Broadcasting Company / Mike Douglas Entertainments, The Mike Douglas Show - Interview with Margaret Keane 1972; BBC World Service, Outlook - Margaret Keane interview 30/12/2014; Duane Anderly, 1964 Lost Interview with Walter and Margaret Keane from YouTube; The Weinstein Company / Silverwood Films / Tim Burton Productions, Big Eyes (film clip) 2014; Express & Star YouTube Channel, Founder of Poundland, Keith Smith opens his grounds up for a festival 25/06/2015; BBC One, Antiques Roadshow: Series 41 - Pioneering Women Special 10/06/2018; BBC Sound Archive, Swim The Channel 17/08/1951.

    • 27 min
    Lamont Dozier, Joan Lingard, Issey Miyake, Edana Minghella

    Lamont Dozier, Joan Lingard, Issey Miyake, Edana Minghella

    John Wilson on

    Lamont Dozier (pictured), who wrote dozens of hits for Motown Records.

    Joan Lingard, the author of the popular Kevin and Sadie books set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

    Issey Miyake, the Japanese fashion designer who survived the atomic bomb.

    Edana Minghella, the mental health researcher and jazz singer.


    Producer: Emily Finch

    Interviewed guest: Eddie Holland
    Interviewed guest: Adam White
    Interviewed guest: Shelly Clark
    Interviewed guest: Lindsey Fraser
    Interviewed guest: Dana Thomas
    Interviewed guest: Dai Fujiwara
    Interviewed guest: Dominic Minghella
    Interviewed guest: Jo Brand

    Archive clips used: Radio 4, Front Row - Brian and Eddie Holland interview 25/12/2019; BBC Radio 1, David Jensen Show - Lamont Dozier interview 29/02/1984; Radio 4, Joan Lingard interview 01/01/1984; BBC Two, Maggie episode 1 17/02/1981; British Pathé, Atomic Bomb Destruction in Japan (1945); INA Société/YouTube Channel, Mai 68 et l'éducation (1968).

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
30 Ratings

30 Ratings

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