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Sidney Lumet, Baruch Blumberg, Roger Nichols, Edith Helm and Ishbel MacAskill

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 15 April 2011

Matthew Bannister on

The prolific film director Sidney Lumet - whose movies included Twelve Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon and Network. We have tributes from Omar Sharif and Jenny Agutter.
The nobel prize winning scientist Baruch Blumberg, who saved millions of lives by isolating the Hepatitis B virus and developing a vaccine
Roger Nichols - the innovative studio engineer who gave Steely Dan their distinctive sound.
Edith Helm - the first woman ever to be given a kidney transplant - we speak to the donor - her twin sister.
And the "honey voiced" Gaelic singer Ishbel MacAskill.

  • Baruch Blumberg

    American biochemist who has died aged 85.

    Baruch Blumberg won the Nobel Prize for medicine for his work on isolating the Hepatitis B virus. With a colleague, he went on to develop a vaccine against the virus which is credited with saving millions of lives. Professor Blumberg later became Master of Balliol College, Oxford and ended his career investigating extra terrestrial life for the American space agency NASA.

    Matthew spoke to his son in law, the BBC Director General Mark Thompson, and to the current Master of Balliol College Oxford, Dr Andrew Graham.

    Baruch Blumberg was born 28 July 1925 and died 5 April 2011.

  • Roger Nichols

    Sound engineer who has died aged 66.

    Roger Nichols was the innovative studio engineer who gave Steely Dan their distinctive sound. He started making home recordings as a schoolboy – with the son of family friends, Frank Zappa. His first job was in nuclear engineering but he quickly moved into the record business. As his career developed Roger was much in demand and worked with artists like John Denver, Rickie Lee Jones, Frank Sinatra and the Beach Boys. But it’s for his association with Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan that he’ll best be remembered.

    Matthew spoke to the Steely Dan guitarist Elliott Randall.

    Roger Nichols was born 22 September 1944 and died 9 April 2011.

  • Edith Helm

    First woman to receive kidney transplant who has died aged 76.

    Edith Helm from Oklahoma was the first woman ever to receive a kidney transplant. She died at the age of seventy six, making her the world’s longest surviving transplant recipient. In 1956, Edith was a twenty year old newly wed who had been diagnosed with kidney failure. The pioneering doctor Joseph Murray – who had earlier carried out the first kidney transplant on a man – agreed to treat her. The donor was to be Edith’s twin sister Wanda Foster.

    Last Word hears from Dr Joe Murray and Wanda Foster and from Professor Anthony Warrens, vice president of the British Transplantation Society.

    Edith Helm was born 29 April 1935 and died 11 April 2011.

  • Sidney Lumet

    American film director who has died aged 86.

    Sidney Lumet was the prolific director of films like ‘Twelve Angry Men’, ‘Serpico’, ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ and ‘Network’. Sidney had grown up in Manhattan’s Lower East side and in Brooklyn. He loved New York, and his films were often set in the city. He was also noted for tackling theatrical subjects, translating plays like ‘Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ and ‘Equus’ from stage to screen.

    Matthew spoke to the actors Jenny Agutter and Omar Sharif and to the producer Stephen Woolley, and the critic David Thomson.

    Sidney Lumet was born 25 June 1924 and died 9 April 2011.

  • Ishbel MacAskill

    Gaelic singer who has died aged 70.

    Ishbel MacAskill was a Gaelic singer who took the Scottish tradition and language around the world. Brought up in the Point area of the Isle of Lewis, Ishbel was a late starter in the music business. She spent the first part of her married life bringing up her four children, so she was in her late thirties when she was spotted by a music producer performing at the Royal National Mod – Scotland’s equivalent of the Welsh Eisteddfod. Ishbel soon made her mark as a perfomer and recording artist and was much in demand at concerts and festivals all over the world.

    Matthew spoke to her fellow singer Anne Lorne Gillies.

    Ishbel MacAskill was born 14 March 1941 and died 31 March 2011.



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