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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
We welcome your comments and suggestions contact us
This week
Friday 13th March 2009
(Rpt) Sunday 15th March 2009
Matthew Bannister
Matthew Bannister tells the life stories of people who have died recently: Bert Hardy,  Ali Bongo, Ann Marie Rogers, Sir Alan Muir Wood and Joan Turner.
Bert Hardy
Newspaper Executive who has died aged 80

Bert Hardy played an important part in the modernisation of the newspaper industry and contributed to the success of many national titles. He held senior positions with Hugh Cudlipp at the Mirror Group, at Rupert Murdoch’s News International, at Lord Rothermere’s Associated Newspapers and for the Barclay Brothers at the Scotsman Group. He conceived the idea of moving the Murdoch papers to Wapping – a move which broke the power of the print unions in Fleet Street and ushered in new working practices across the whole industry. Bert Hardy was born into a working class family at Mill Hill in North London. He started a paper round when he was eight and left school at fourteen to join the news magazine Picture Post.

Matthew Bannister talks to former Editor of The Mirror Roy Greenslade, Assistant Editor of the Daily Mail, Charles Garside and to the former Sunday Times Editor Andrew Neil.

Bert Hardy was born 19 May 1913 and died 10 March 2009.

Ann Marie Rogers
Breast Cancer campaigner who has died aged 57

Ann Marie Rogers was a former restaurant manager who campaigned for the right of breast cancer patients to be given the drug Herceptin by the NHS. Although some NHS patients already had access to Herceptin, when Ann Marie was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was denied the treatment by her local primary care trust in Swindon. She took her case first to the High Court and then to the Court of Appeal. The landmark ruling in her favour paved the way for other women to be prescribed Herceptin by NHS doctors. Anne Marie believed the treatment gave her two extra years with her family before she died from the illness.

Matthew Bannister talks to Ann Marie Rogers’ solicitor Yogi Amin and BBC Health Correspondent Branwen Jeffreys.
Ali Bongo
Magician who has died aged 79

Ali Bongo wasn’t just a colourful stage and TV magician – he was also behind the tricks which made others famous. British TV’s first successful magician David Nixon and later Paul Daniels both employed Ali to create illusions for their shows. He went on to become President of the Magic Circle and developed an international reputation. Ali Bongo was born William Wallace in Bangalore in India where his father was serving with the British army. As a child, Ali Bongo drew inspiration from watching street performers and reading a column on magic in The Times of India.

Matthew Bannister talks to writer and broadcaster Brian Sibley.

Ali Bongo was born 8 December 1929 and died 8 March 2009.
Sir Alan Muir Wood
Engineer who has died aged 87

Sir Alan Muir Wood was an engineer who became known as the father of modern British tunnelling. He used pioneering techniques on projects like the Heathrow Cargo Tunnel and the Clyde Tunnel. He also advised on the Channel Tunnel, although he was not responsible for the design. Sir Alan was President of the Institution of Civil Engineers and a founder and president of the International Tunnelling Association.

Matthew Bannister talks to Alan Muir Wood’s son, David Muir Wood, who is Professor of Civil Engineering at Bristol University and to Hugh Ferguson who is Deputy Director General of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Sir Alan Muir Wood was born August 8 1921 and died February 1 2009.

Joan Turner
Singer and comedienne who has died aged 86

Joan Turner became a star in the 1950s and 60s, but struggled with alcoholism in later life. In her heyday Joan was billed as having “the voice of an angel and the wit of the devil”, appearing at the Talk of Town, Saturday Night at the London Palladium and at two Royal Command performances. She used her versatile singing voice to handle everything from operatic arias and popular songs to impressions of the other stars of the day.

Matthew Bannister talks to Joan Turner’s daughter, the actress Susanna Page.

Joan Turner was born November 24 1922 and died March 1 2009.
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