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Great Lives
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Tuesdays at 4.30pm
Repeated on Fridays at 11pm
Great Lives - Radio 4's biographical series
Matthew ParrisMatthew Parris presents Radio 4's biographical history series.

Visit the latest series of Great Lives

Pope John Paul II 30 January 2007

Ann Widdecombe is famous for her opposition to women priests. "You might as well ask me when Martians will start appearing at the end of my garden," she once said. So it is no surprise to find that Ann has chosen someone who felt just as strongly on the matter, the last Pope, John Paul II. Malachi O'Doherty, author of "I was a Teenage Catholic", joins in the debate.

William Beveridge 23 January 2007

William Beveridge, author of the report that became the basis for the welfare state, is proposed by children's writer Anne Fine. Frank Field, former minister of welfare reform, takes on the expert's role.

Martha Gellhorn 16 January 2007

A typical story in Popbitch is usually about 90 words. This probably explains why the editor, Camilla Wright, has chosen Martha Gellhorn as her Great Life. Gellhorn wrote at length about the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, and Vietnam. Biographer Caroline Moorehead joins presenter Matthew Parris to dissect and debate a brilliant and complicated life.

Richard Beckinsale 9 January 2007

Alan Davies, star of Jonathan Creek and Bob and Rose, nominates a man who died less than three decades ago and whose life was so brief that no one has yet written it up. But there was and still is something about Richard Beckinsale that remains extraordinarily well loved. With contributions from Stephen Frears, who directed him in two films, and his widow Judy Loe, plus archive of his Porridge cell mate Ronnie Barker. 

Joan Littlewood
2 January 2007

Victor Spinetti was working as a comedian in a strip-club when Joan Littlewood invited him to join Theatre Workshop, and set him on the road to Broadway. He tells Matthew Parris about the joys of working with a great director (who hated to be called a director) and how she cured his 'apologetic feet'. Other parts of the story are supplied by theatre historian Nadine Holdsworth and by archive interviews with Joan Littlewood herself.

Albert Einstein 26 December 2006

Time Magazine called him ‘The Man of the Century’ and others have said he was ‘the greatest Jew since Jesus’. His theories still make our brains spin, but what was Einstein like as a person? TV science presenter Professor Kathy Sykes discusses the archetypal crazy genius with Matthew Parris and with Einstein’s biographer, John Gribbin.

Millicent Fawcett 19 December 2006

For fifty years Millicent Garrett Fawcett struggled to win the right to vote for women in Britain, yet today she is little-known compared to the suffragette leaders who took a more militant course. Feminist campaigner Lesley Abdela discusses the extraordinary “MGF” with Matthew Parris and with historian Elizabeth Crawford.

John H. Hammond 12 December 2006

In a career that stretched from 1932 to 1985, the legendary record producer John Hammond discovered Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and Bruce Springsteen. He also worked tirelessly to end race discrimination in the music industry. Record producer Joe Boyd discusses his career with Matthew Parris and with Dunstan Prial, author of a new biography of Hammond.
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Matthew Parris
Matthew Parris is a writer for The Times and The Spectator and a frequent broadcaster on television and radio. From 1977 until the 1979 General Election, he was a member of staff in Mrs Thatcher's Office.

He was elected as an MP for West Derbyshire in 1979, a seat he held until 1986 when he gave it up to become Presenter of LWT's political interview programme, Weekend World.

He has led expeditions to Mount Kilimanjaro, Peru and Bolivia as well as to Zaire and the Sahara.

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In Our Time

Melvyn Bragg

Thursday, 9.00 - 9.45am, rpt 9.30pm
Melvyn Bragg explores the history of ideas.
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