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Radio 4's biographical series. Each week a living celebrity is invited to nominate one of their heroes, the only condition being that the hero must be dead. With the help of an expert on that person - sometimes a biographer, sometimes someone who knew them - presenter Humphrey Carpenter discusses the Great Life and assesses their importance. Often, the programme tells us as much about the celebrity as their hero.

Scroll down for programme information.

Audio will be available for each programme for one week after the broadcast.

Programme 1 - Noel Coward
Noel Coward Peter Bazalgette, TV producer, nominated Noel Coward. primarily on the strength of his lyrics. But his position, just behind Shakespeare, in a recent poll of the most influential figures in British theatre comes under vigorous attack.

Programme 2 - Dr Samuel Johnson
Dr Samuel Johnson Poet Kit Wright and presenter Humphrey Carpenter discuss why Kit considered Dr Samuel Johnson to be one of the greatest men who ever lived - when they entertained an audience at this week's Birmingham Book Festival.

Programme 3 - Flora Sandes
Flora Sandes. Veteran war reporter, Kate Adie, has long been an admirer of Flora Sandes - who became the first commissioned female officer of the modern British Army during World War One. Presenter Humphrey Carpenter and military historian Julie Wheelwright joined Kate at the Birmingham Book Festival.

Programme 4 - Sarah Bernhardt
Sarah Bernhardt Jenny Eclair chooses the great Victorian tragedienne, Sarah Bernhardt, as her example of a notable life well lived - arguably the first international super-star, the Madonna of her day. Jenny Éclair's helped out by theatre historian Professor Elaine Aston and actress Frances Barber.

Programme 5 - Bernardo O'Higgins
Bernado O'Higgins Former Beirut hostage Brian Keenan's choice is Bernardo O'Higgins. The illegitimate child of an Irish adventurer, Bernardo's claim to fame is largely limited to South America, where he is known as the liberator of Chile. Latin American expert Hugh O'Shaughnessy joins Brian and Humphrey.

Programme 6 - Octavia Hill
Bernado O'Higgins Brenda Dean proposes National Trust founder Octavia Hill as her choice of a Great Life. She joins presenter Humphrey Carpenter and the Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to analyse this highly-driven and complex social reformer.

Programme 7 - Tommy Cooper
Tommy Cooper Sir Clement Freud selects comedian Tommy Cooper as his choice of a Great Life. Together with presenter Humphrey Carpenter and biographer Jeremy Novick he explains why he found the big man in the fez and the size 13 shoes so memorable and entertaining.

Programme 8 - Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens Armando Iannucci, the man behind the Alan Partridge phenomena, will be tackling the man behind the Pickwick, Chuzzlewit, Uriah Heep phenomena on tonight’s edition of Great Lives. Joining them will be Dickens expert, Professor Andrew Sanders.

Programme 9 - Ian Dury
Ian Dury Comedian and Radio 4 regular, Linda Smith, selects singer-songwriter Ian Dury as her choice of a life well-lived. Dury’s former manager, Charlie Gillett, als0 discusses the life of the man who, in the late 1970s, sketched out in song such memorable figures as Clever Trevor and Billericay Dickey.

Programme 10 - Mary Kingsley
Mary Kingsley Journalist Ann Leslie nominates the pioneering C19th writer Mary Kingsley who defied convention in her explorations of West Africa. Humphrey Carpenter is also joined by writer Dea Birkett to discover why this remarkable Victorian lady visited the "white man's grave" and hated missionaries.


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