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Series 1

Matthew Parris marks the passing of the valedictory despatch, the traditional final telegram home in which British ambassadors could let their hair down and settle a few scores. The series features newly declassified Foreign Office files alongside interviews with the diplomats who wrote them.

Matthew delves into the archives to find valedictories in which ambassadors heading into retirement poked fun at foreign nations where they had served.

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Episode 5

5/5 Matthew Parris on valedictories which embarrassed ministers.

Tue 17 Nov 2009 09:30 BBC Radio 4

See all previous episodes from Parting Shots

  • Valedictory Despatches

    You can read here (via the links above right) in full many of the valedictory despatches which feature in the series. Diplomats could say whatever they wished in their final telegram home, and they could be very frank about the cultures and countries in which they served.
    Some of these files were released to the BBC by the Foreign Office under the Freedom of Information Act. The older despatches - those written more than thirty years ago - are from the National Archives in Kew.

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