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Last Word
Listen to the latest editionFriday   16:00-16:30
Sunday 20:30-21:00 (rpt)

Radio 4's weekly obituaries programme
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This week
Friday 1st February 2008
(Rpt) Sunday 3rd February
Matthew Bannister
Matthew Bannister tells the life stories of people who have died recently: General Suharto, Miles Kington, Jeremy Beadle and Lady Barbirolli.
General Suharto
Indonesian dictator who has died aged 86

Suharto was born in 1921 in a rural area of what was then the Netherlands East Indies. His parents separated when he was very young and he was brought up by relatives. After a brief spell as a trainee at a local bank, he joined the colonial army, rising to the rank of sergeant by the time of the Japanese occupation in 1942.

After the war, Suharto joined the fledgling national army which fought the Dutch for Indonesian independence. Once this was granted he rose through the military ranks. By 1965, Suharto was commander of the Army’s strategic reserve known as Kostrad, based in Jakarta. On October 1st dissident army units abducted and killed six of his fellow generals as a prelude to a coup against President Sukarno. Suharto acted swiftly to put down the coup, blaming the Indonesian Communist Party – which had previously enjoyed the patronage of President Sukarno. Suharto’s forces began a purge of the communists whilst the General dismantled the political apparatus that surrounded Sukarno.

General Suharto went on to held power for thirty years through brutal repression and systematic corruption. Millions of people are said to have been massacred under his rule and estimates of his embezzlement run into billions of dollars

Matthew Bannister talls to an Indonesia expert from the BBC World Service – Anton Alifandi and to Carmel Budiardjo, who was imprisoned under Suharto along with her Indonesian husband for having links with the Communist party.

Suharto was born June 8th 1921. He died January 27th 2008.
Miles Kington
Writer, critic and humorist who has died aged 66

Miles Kington entertained us in print, through broadcasting and by playing the double bass. The humourist was perhaps best known for his columns in the Times and latterly the Independent, but he was a familiar voice on Radio 4 and made some memorable television programmes.

Miles was born in Northern Ireland where his father was serving in the army. He was educated at the public school Trinity College in Perthshire and at Trinity College Oxford where he read Modern languages. These came in very handy in the creation of perhaps his best known work: Let’s Parler Franglais - the subject of several columns and a number of books. He landed a job as jazz critic of The Times before moving to Punch where he became literary editor.

Meanwhile he was also pursuing a second career as double-bass player with the cabaret quartet Instant Sunshine.

Matthew Bannister talks to Miles Kington's friend and neighbour, the journalist Geoffrey Wheatcroft, to fellow band member Dr Alan Marion Davies, and to radio producers Tony Staveacre and Simon Elmes.

Miles Kington was born May 13th 1941. He died January 30th 2008.

Jeremy Beadle
Television presenter and writer who has died aged 59

In a newspaper survey Jeremy Beadle was once voted the second most hated man in Britain after Saddam Hussein. This didn’t seem to square with the huge television audiences who tuned in for years to watch him playing practical jokes on unsuspecting members of the public.

Jeremy Beadle was born in Hackney, the product of an extra marital affair between his mother and a newspaper journalist who abandoned her shortly after the birth.

Expelled from school, Jeremy Beadle went on to be sacked from a series of menial jobs, often because he played practical jokes on colleagues. A fascination with trivia eventually led to media work, with an anniversaries column in the Daily Express and slots on London’s Capital Radio and LBC. But the big break came in 1981 when he joined Matthew Kelly, Sarah Kennedy and Henry Kelly as joint hosts of the ITV Saturday evening entertainment showGame For A Laugh. Beadle’s pranks proved such a hit that he was given his own hidden camera show: Beadle’s About and then went on to front the video clip show You’ve Been Framed.

Matthew Bannister talks to broadcaster Henry Kelly and we hear from the actor, director and writer Ken Campbell.

Jeremy James Anthony Gibson Beadle was born April 12th 1948. He died January 30th 2008.
Lady Barbirolli OBE
Oboist who has died aged 97

Evelyn Rothwell was one of Britain’s most accomplished oboeists and, as Lady Barbirolli she was also a loyal and creative supporter of her husband – the distinguished conductor, Sir John Barbirolli. Evelyn was born in 1911 at Wallingford on Thames, the daughter of a tea dealer. She was educated at Downe House, where at the comparatively late age of seventeen, she began to play the oboe.

Evelyn went on to win a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, before taking work as a freelance musician.

Matthew Bannister talks to the historian of the Halle Orchestra, Michael Kennedy who was a friend of the Barbirollis.

Evelyn Rothwell was born January 24th 1911. She died January 25th 2008.
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