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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 11th July 2008
(Rpt) Sunday 13th July
John Wilson
John Wilson tells the life stories of people who have died recently: Jesse Helms, Harry Lange, Ray Wyre and William Buchan, third Lord Tweedsmuir.
Jesse Helms
United States Senator who has died aged 86

On one level Jesse Helms simply represented the people of North Carolina in The Senate. But on another - thanks to 30 years of outspoken opinions on racial equality, communism, gay rights and foreign affairs – he represented a far wider constituency of American conservative voters.

Jesse Helms was voted to the Senate five times. He became a household name across America and was often referred to as ‘Senator No’ because of his opposition to progressive politics. The son of a policeman, Helms was an old fashioned right wing southerner, one for whom the 1964 Civil Rights Acts was - in his words – “ the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced”. When he was first elected to the Senate in 1972 Helms set about campaigning for compulsory prayers in school. He railed against decadence, against hippies, and against art and literature that he deemed to be corrupting. After the collapse of Communism he seized on the growing HIV/Aids crisis to launch a moral crusade against homosexuality.

John Wilson talks to BBC’s Washington Correspondent Matt Frei.

Jesse Alexander Helms Jr was born October 18th 1921. He died July 4th 2008.
Harry Lange
Illustrator and designer who has died aged 77

When, in the mid 60s, Stanley Kubrick started work on his epic film 2001 A Space Odyssey, creating a sense of intergalactic realism was a top priority. So instead of employing a science fiction designer for the spacesuits, the craft and the computers, he turned to an expert in science fact. Harry Lange had worked for NASA, designing rockets for the Apollo space missions, before helping Kubrick bring his futuristic visions to the big-screen.

Harry Lange was responsible for the cool, white minimalism of the 2001 spaceships. The film is regarded as a timeless classic partly thanks to the design. He was born in Germany 1930, growing up as teenager under Nazi rule. In 1946, after he and his family found themselves living under Soviet control in the newly created East Germany, he escaped with his mother and sister.

John Wilson talks to Harry Lange’s son John.

Harry (Hans-Kurt) Lange was born December 7th 1930. He died May 22nd 2008.

Ray Wyre
Pioneer in the treatment of sex offenders who has died aged 56 
Ray Wyre was regarded as one of Britain’s leading experts on sex offenders. In the 1980’s Ray Wyre pioneered a radical new approach to dealing with convicted paedophiles - he sat down and talked to them, asking them why they behaved as they did, and offering therapy. His mission was to prevent men re-offending after release. He launched the world’s first residential treatment centre for sex offenders at the Gracewell Clinic in Birmingham, although the controversial nature of the programme meant that it closed within five years. He also worked for the United Nations in Kosovo, helping investigations into child abuse cases.

John Wilson talks to Marcus Erooga, professional adviser on child sexual abuse at the NSPCC and to Ray Wyre's friend and colleague Steve Lowe.

Ray Wyre was born November 2nd 1951. He died June 20th 2008.
William Buchan, third Lord Tweedsmuir
Writer who has died aged 92

As a young man, wanting to make his mark in the world of literature, William Buchan had a lot to live up to. His father was The Thirty-Nine Steps  author John Buchan. His father had married into one of the richest families in the land and was made the Governor General of Canada and given the title Lord Tweedsmuir.

William Buchan thus grew up amidst fame, power and influence. He forged his own path as a poet and novelist, worked with Alfred Hitchcock on film-sets and served with the RAF as a fighter pilot in the Mediterranean. It wasn’t till the age of 80 that he inherited the peerage but lost his seat in the Lords three years later as part of New Labour’s constitutional reforms. Late in life he wrote a biography of his father John Buchan and also an autobiography called The Rags of Time.

John Wilson talks to William Buchan’s daughter Lady Deborah Stewartby and John Rowe reads extracts from The Rags of Time.

William de l'Aigle Buchan was born January 10th 1916. He died June 29th 2008.
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