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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 13th June 2008
(Rpt) Sunday 15thJune
Matthew Bannister
Matthew Bannister tells the life stories of people who have died recently: Jonathan Routh, Fritz Koerner, Paul Patrick, Trevor Wilkinson and Jimmy McGriff.
Jonathan Routh
Television presenter, writer and artist who has died aged eighty

Jonathan Routh was a pioneer of reality TV. In the 1960s, his show Candid Camera, specialised in playing practical jokes on unsuspecting members of the public. 

He was the son of a British Army colonel and was educated at Uppingham School, although he was reportedly expelled for putting a banner up in the chapel during a mock election which read “Vote Routh, Communist”. At Cambridge University he recruited a team of undergraduates to measure up Bletchley for a by-pass and then started a petition against the fictional road development. His broadcasting pranks began on Radio Luxembourg in a series called “Candid Microphone” which included Routh taking a grand piano on the London Underground. However, it was on television that he reached his largest audience.

Matthew Bannister talks to the former BBC Director General, Lord Birt and to Jonathan Routh’s friends, Richard Compton-Miller and Jeremy Rugge-Price.

John Reginald Surdeval Routh was born November 24th 1927. He  died June 4th 2008.
Fritz Koerner
Polar scientist and explorer who has died aged 75

On May 29th 1969, Fritz Koerner and his three colleagues completed the first ever surface crossing of the Arctic Ocean, from Point Barrow in Alaska to Svalbard in the far north of Norway. Supported by the Royal Canadian Airforce and using dog sleds to transport their gear, the team had made an epic journey of 3,620 miles through the frozen wastes, buffeted by snow storms and high winds.

Fritz Koerner was born in Portsmouth and went to the local grammar school. After graduating in geography from Sheffield University, Koerner devoted the rest of his life to the study of the polar regions. His specialist area was snow stratigraphy – which is used to provide measurements of seasonal variations in temperature. Fritz Koerner, therefore, made a significant contribution to our understanding of global warming and advised the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change.

Matthew Bannister talks to Fritz Koerner's colleague of thirty years David Fisher and to his brother Ken.

Fritz Koerner was born on July 3rd 1932. He died May 26th 2008.
Paul Patrick
Gay rights campaigner and teacher who has died aged 57.

Paul Patrick was a much-loved teacher who campaigned passionately for the rights of gay and lesbian people. Born in South Shields, he started his teaching career in Lewisham in South East London. Paul came out in 1969, only two years after the decriminalisation of homosexuality and in 1974 he co-founded the London Gay Teachers’ Group, now known as Schools Out.

Paul and his co-chair of Schools Out, Sue Sanders, also helped to set up Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender – or LGBT – history month which caused controversy in 2004 when it was suggested that schoolchildren should be taught about the sexual orientation of famous figures from the past.

Matthew Bannister talks to Sue Sanders and to Paul’s former boss – deputy Head Bob Hodgson.

Paul Patrick was born July 23rd 1950. He died May 22nd 2008.
Trevor Wilkinson
TVR founder who has died aged 85

Trevor Wilkinson designed the classic sports car the TVR and founded the company which made them. He called the firm after the first, third and last initials of his Christian name.

Trevor Wilkinson was born in Blackpool. He left school at fourteen and started an engineering apprenticeship at a local garage. In 1946 he bought a car repair business and the following year built his first car. The original TVR first appeared in 1949 and sold for £325. For many years the cars were available in kit form – to avoid a government tax on ready made vehicles. Trevor left TVR in 1962 to set up his own engineering business, but the cars he designed have become classics and are much sought after by enthusiasts and collectors.

Matthew Bannister talks to Daniel Mash who raced a classic TVR Grantura in the Le Mans Legends Race in 2006 and to Peter Filby who wrote 'Success against the odds'.

Trevor Wilkinson was born May 14th 1923. He died June 6th 2008.
Jimmy McGriff
Organist who has died aged 72

Last Word leaves you this week with the music of Jimmy McGriff who is known as one of the big three players of the Hammond Organ in the 1960s. McGriff saw himself as the king of the organ blues and he made the charts with his own song “All About My Girl” and a dancefloor version of the Ray Charles number “I've Got A Woman”.

James Harrell McGriff was born April 3rd 1936. He died May 24th 2008.
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