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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 19th September 2008
(Rpt) Sunday 21st September
Matthew Bannister
Matthew Bannister tells the life stories of people who have died recently: Richard Wright, Thubten Jigme Norbu, Frank Mundus, Harold Challenor and Phyllis Thom.
Richard Wright
Pink Floyd Keyboard player who has died aged 65

Pink Floyd were one of the most successful and influential rock bands of the last 40 years. Rick Wright was the keyboard player and also sang and composed tracks like The Great Gig In The Sky , from their multi million selling 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon. He was there from the beginning and, despite being sacked in one of the many upheavals that characterised the band’s history, was firmly back in the line up when Pink Floyd staged their unexpected re-union at the Live 8 concert in 2005.

Matthew Bannister talks to music journalist Mark Ellen, editor of Word magazine, and to the band’s drummer Nick Mason.  

Richard Wright was born July 28th 1943. He died September 15th 2008.
Thubten Jigme Norbu
Brother of the Dalai Lama who has died aged 86

Thubten Jigme Norbu was the elder brother of the Dalai Lama. At the age of three he was identified as the re-incarnation of a senior Tibetan lama called Taktser Rinpoche and later became the abbot of an important monastery. Following the arrival of Chinese troops in Tibet in 1950, Norbu fled abroad where he renounced his monastic life. In 1965 he settled in Indiana in the United States where he became a representative of his brother’s government in exile and worked as an academic.

Matthew Bannister talks to one of Professor Norbu's colleagues at Indiana University, Professor Elliot Sperling.

Thubten Jigme Norbu was born August 16th 1922. He died September 5th 2008.
Harold “Tanky” Challenor
Police sergeant who has died aged 86

Harold “Tanky” Challenor was a war hero who became a tough and eccentric police sergeant, given the task of cleaning up the Soho of the 1960s. Challenor was noted for his unorthodox and sometimes brutal approach to questioning suspects. After arresting a man who came from Barbados he was said to have stood on the charge room table singing “Bongo, Bongo, Bongo, I don’t want to leave the Congo” whilst repeatedly punching the suspect. He finally fell from grace when he was accused of faking the evidence in one of his cases, but was found unfit to plead because of mental instability.

Matthew Bannister talks to Cathi Unsworth who is a novelist researching Challenor’s life, and to James Morton who is a crime historian.

Harold Challenor was born March 16th 1922. He died August 28th 2008.
Frank Mundus
Shark fisherman who has died aged 82

Frank Mundus was a shark fisherman who is said to have inspired the character of Captain Quint in the movie Jaws. As Captain of the 42 foot boat the Cricket 2, based at Montauk Long Island, Frank landed many Great White Sharks.

Peter Benchley, who wrote the novel Jaws, went shark fishing with Frank, although he always claimed that the character of Captain Quint was based on many different fishermen.

Matthew Bannister talks to Russell Drumm who wrote a book about Frank Mundus, 'In the Slick of the Cricket',  and went fishing with him on a number of occasions.

Frank Mundus was born October 21st 1925. He died September 10th 2008.
Phyllis Thom
Nurse and Japanese Prisoner of War who has died aged 100

Phyllis Thom was held prisoner by the Japanese during the Second World War for three and a half years. She was one of a number of women whose stories inspired the television series Tenko. She had been working as a nursing sister in Malaya when the Japanese invaded in 1941. Evacuated to Singapore, she boarded a cargo ship sailing for Australia, but it was captured by the Japanese navy. Along with many other women and children, Phyllis was sent to a prison camp. When most of the women were moved away, Phyllis and five nurses were left to look after five hundred male prisoners living in atrocious conditions.

Phyllis Thom was born June 14th 1908. She died September 16th 2008.
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