Episodes
Matthew Bannister on Kathy Boudin, the American radical activist who was sent to prison for her part in the killing of a security guard and two police officers during a robbery. While serving her sentence she became a campaigner for penal reform. Dennis Waterman, the actor best known for his roles in TV series 'The Sweeney', 'Minder' and 'New Tricks'. Sidney Altman, the American biologist who won the Nobel prize for his work on the function of RNA... And Régine Zylberberg, the French...
Published 05/13/22
Published 05/06/22
Matthew Bannister on Colonel Alan Jenkins, the Gurhka officer who was the last living Westerner to have travelled to independent Tibet. Mary Monson, the solicitor who devoted her career to helping the poor and disadvantaged. Elspeth Barker, the novelist and critic who lived a colourful life surrounded by animals in a Norfolk farmhouse. Art Rupe, the American record producer who helped to launch the careers of Little Richard and Sam Cooke. Producer: Neil George Interviewed guest: Nigel...
Published 05/06/22
Matthew Bannister on Yvonne Blenkinsop, one of the four so-called 'Headscarf Revolutionaries' from Hull who campaigned for better safety regulations on fishing trawlers after three were lost at sea in 1968. Margaret Carswell, the doctor and ornithologist who treated survivors of the Ugandan civil war and in her spare time compiled the definitive guide to the country’s bird population. Mikhail Vasenkov, the Russian spy who assumed a South American identity and lived undercover in the United...
Published 04/29/22
John Wilson on Mimi Reinhard, the Holocaust survivor who typed Oskar Schindler’s famous list and later turned down an offer from Steven Spielberg. Sir Harrison Birtwistle, the uncompromising British composer of contemporary classical music who once caused panic at the Proms. Sylvia Lancaster, the mother of Sophie Lancaster who was brutally murdered in 2007. Sylvia set up a foundation with the aim of promoting tolerance and inclusivity among young people... And Letizia Battaglia, who...
Published 04/22/22
John Wilson remembers the lives of those who have recently died including Jordan Mooney the punk icon known as ‘the original Sex Pistol’ who ended up as a veterinary nurse. Jack Higgins, the thriller writer who hit the jackpot with The Eagle Has Landed, and sold more than 250 million books. Robert Ashe, an aid worker who spent most of his working life supporting refugees all over the world. And David McKee - author and illustrator who created timeless childhood favourites including Mr...
Published 04/15/22
Matthew Bannister on Derek Mack, the rocket engineer who helped Britain enter the space age June Brown, the actor best known as Dot Cotton in Eastenders Dr Doris A. Derby, the American civil rights activist and photographer who took historic pictures of the struggle for equality Dave Sales, the Dorset fisherman who fought a 23 year campaign to protect the sea bed in Lyme Bay. Producer: Neil George Interviewed guest: Dion Mack Interviewed guest: Ken MacTaggart Interviewed guest: Bob...
Published 04/08/22
Matthew Bannister on The first female US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who was a leading advocate of the NATO bombing campaign aimed at stopping ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. Peter Padfield, the naval historian who as a young man took part in the reconstruction of the voyage of the Mayflower from the UK to the USA. Christina Smith, the colourful entrepreneur known as “the queen of Covent Garden” for her property and business development in that area of London. Sheila Paine,...
Published 04/01/22
Matthew Bannister on Bruce Page, the investigative journalist best known for leading the Sunday Times Insight team’s expose of the Thalidomide scandal. Dottie Frazier, the pioneering American scuba diver who kept a boa constrictor as a pet and rode a motorcycle until she was in her nineties. Josephine Veasey, the British mezzo-soprano acclaimed for her performances in works by Wagner and Berlioz. And Maynard Davies, who left school unable to read and write, went on to become a well-known...
Published 03/25/22
John Wilson on Mary Coombs, the world's first female computer programmer in the commercial sector; Paul Farmer, a medical anthropologist who saved millions of lives in the world's poorest countries; Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper, who had a run-in with General Eisenhower and later went on to translate the comic book Tintin; and William Hurt, Oscar-winning actor. Producer: Neil George Interviewed guest: Fred Frank Land OBE Interviewed guest: Georgina Ferry Interviewed guest: Sheila...
Published 03/18/22
Matthew Bannister on Shirley Hughes, the children’s author and illustrator whose books created a welcoming and recognisable picture of family life. Roger Graef, the documentary filmmaker who revealed the inner workings of the criminal justice system, the planning authorities and the treatment of children in care. Shane Warne, the Australian spin bowler hailed as one of the greatest cricketers of all time, but also known for his off the pitch party lifestyle. Producer: Neil George...
Published 03/11/22
Matthew Bannister on Sonny Ramadhin, the West Indian bowler who was one of the heroes of the side that scored a famous victory over England in 1950. Sister Catherine Wybourne, who was known as the 'digital nun' for her use of blogs and social media to communicate the messages of her order. Captain Raymond Savage, one of the last surviving prisoners of war who worked on the notorious Burma railway in the 1940s. Anna Karen, the actor best known for her appearances in the TV sitcom 'On The...
Published 03/04/22
Matthew Bannister on Jamal Edwards, the young music entrepreneur whose YouTube channel supported the careers of grime and rap stars like Dave, Skepta and Stormzy. P.J. O’Rourke, the conservative American satirist who applied his barbed wit to reporting from the world’s trouble spots. Romaine Hart, whose Screen on the Green cinema gave a platform to art house films and was described by Quentin Tarantino as “the coolest cinema in London”. Ronnie Campbell, the Scottish crofter and land...
Published 02/25/22
Matthew Bannister on Beryl Vertue, the TV and film producer who brought us 'Men Behaving Badly' and 'Sherlock'. The actors Martin Clunes and Martin Freeman pay tribute. Flavio Carboni, the Italian wheeler dealer who was at the centre of many legal and political mysteries, including the death of the Vatican banker Roberto Calvi. Phil Harvey, the American businessman who set up a chain of sex shops to fund the provision of birth control to millions of people in the developing world. Lata...
Published 02/18/22
Matthew Bannister on Bamber Gascoigne, the broadcaster and author best known as the long serving host of the TV quiz show 'University Challenge'. Norma Waterson, the revered singer who was part of the Waterson Carthy dynasty that played a leading role in the English folk revival. We have a personal tribute from her husband Martin Carthy and daughter Eliza Carthy. Claire Tomlinson, who broke down barriers to become one of the UK’s best polo players. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese-born...
Published 02/11/22
Julian Worricker on: The diplomat Sir Crispin Tickell, who advised four prime ministers, and influenced international policy on climate change... The writer and performer, Barry Cryer, whose work spanned sixty years and involved scripts for most of the comedy greats... Darlene Hard, 21 times a Grand Slam tennis champion, described as one of the greatest doubles players of her generation... And the Brazilian singer, Elza Soares, who was a campaigner for women's rights and against...
Published 02/04/22
Matthew Bannister on Meat Loaf, the rock opera singer best known for his album Bat Out Of Hell. André Leon Talley, the fashion editor who played a leading role at US Vogue magazine and supported the careers of many designers. Jana Bennett, the BBC executive who led the transformation of TV science programmes and oversaw the Corporation’s move into the digital age. Kristin Baybars, whose beautiful doll's house furniture and other toys were sought after by children and adults alike....
Published 01/28/22
Matthew Bannister on Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover who led the expansion of the family grocery business during the 1970s and 80s. David Stuart, the former gay escort and drug dealer who turned his life around and became a much loved support worker and advocate for the LGBT community. Elizabeth Selby, who with her husband ran one of the UK’s most successful photographic agencies, supplying pictures to newspapers and magazines around the world. And Ronnie Spector, lead singer of the...
Published 01/21/22
Matthew Bannister on Sidney Poitier, the first black man to win a 'Best Actor' Oscar, known for his powerful performances in ‘In The Heat of The Night’, ‘Lilies of the Field’ and ‘To Sir, With Love’. His co-star in that film - Lulu - pays tribute. E.O.Wilson, the American biologist and champion of biodiversity who some have compared to Charles Darwin. Sarah Weddington, the lawyer who argued the landmark case of Roe v Wade before the US Supreme Court. The case, which is being challenged...
Published 01/14/22
Matthew Bannister on Lord Rogers of Riverside, the influential architect who designed the Pompidou Centre in Paris and the Lloyds Building in London. April Ashley, the transgender model who partied with pop stars and aristocrats during the Swinging Sixties and campaigned for changes to the law on gender identity. Joan Didion, the American writer best known for her memoir 'The Year of Magical Thinking' written after the deaths of her husband and daughter. Ray Illingworth, the...
Published 01/07/22
Julian Worricker on Janice Long, the pioneering female DJ who was heard on Radios 1 and 2 and was a familiar face on Top of the Pops. “Marvellous” Marvin Hagler, one of the greatest middleweight boxing champions of all time. Esther Bejarano, one of the last survivors of the Auschwitz women’s orchestra who devoted her life to campaigning against racism. Leslie Bricusse OBE, the prolific songwriter behind dozens of hits for stage and screen, including songs for the Bond films, Willy Wonka...
Published 12/31/21
Julian Worricker on The feminist writer bell hooks, credited with prompting new, radical thinking about race, gender and class. Shirley McGreal, founder of the International Primate Protection League, whose work in conservation led to her opening a gibbon sanctuary in South Carolina. The singer, dancer and actor, Lionel Blair, whose career began during World War II, and spanned eight decades... And the pioneering film director, Melvin Van Peebles, who became known as the godfather of...
Published 12/24/21
Matthew Bannister on The journalist and feminist Mary Maher. She edited the women’s page of the Irish Times and was a prime mover in campaigns for equal rights. The bass player Robbie Shakespeare. With his partner Sly Dunbar he formed a powerful rhythm section in demand by artists from Peter Tosh and Black Uhuru to Grace Jones, Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan. Anwar Ditta, the British Asian mother who fought for five years to be allowed to bring her three children from Pakistan to the UK....
Published 12/17/21
Matthew Bannister on Sir Antony Sher, one of the finest actors of his generation, who was also a writer and a painter. We have a heartfelt personal tribute from his husband, the Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company Gregory Doran. Roger Phillips, the colourful plant photographer who produced many authoritative books on wild flowers, trees and plants but was perhaps best known for his work on mushrooms. Judy Totton, the music business publicist who worked with clients like...
Published 12/10/21
Matthew Bannister on Stephen Sondheim, the acclaimed composer and lyricist who revolutionised the stage musical. We have a tribute from Imelda Staunton who gave award-winning performances in some of his finest roles. Sir Frank Williams, the Formula One motor racing team owner who continued to enjoy great success after breaking his neck in a car crash that left him quadriplegic. His close friend and colleague Sir Patrick Head recalls their long working relationship. Jo-Carroll Dennison,...
Published 12/03/21