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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 29th February 2008
(Rpt) Sunday 2nd March
Matthew Bannister
Matthew Bannister tells the life stories of people who have died recently: Pearl Cornioley, William Buckley, David Watkin, Dorothy Podber and Mike Smith.
Pearl Cornioley
Special Operations Executive officer during the second world war who has died aged 91

Pearl Cornioley's code name was Pauline and during the Second World War she was parachuted into German-occupied France to act as an SOE courier. She later took over the organisation of fifteen hundred resistance fighters and worked alongside her fiancé Henri Cornioley. 

She was born Pearl Witherington in Paris from where her father travelled widely as the supplier of paper used in the manufacture of banknotes. He was a heavy drinker who lived beyond his means, and Pearl had to go out to work as a secretary to support her mother and sisters. When the Germans invaded France in 1940, Pearl was working as a typist in the British Embassy. She was not included in the official evacuation scheme and had to escort her family through the Vichy controlled zone, via Spain to Portugal and then by ship to Gibraltar, finally arriving in England in 1941. However, she was soon to return to occupied France as a member of the SOE.

Matthew Bannister talks to the Imperial War Museum historian Roderick Bailey who specialises in the study of the SOE.

Pearl Cornioley ( nee Witherington ) was born June 24th 1916. She died February 24th 2008.
William F Buckley 
American author and broadcaster who has died aged 82

William Buckley was the intellectual guru of the American right. In the 1950s, when the political consensus was overwhelmingly liberal, he set out to offer an alternative. He founded the most influential magazine of the American right – National Review  and wrote thousands of newspaper columns. He presented a long running TV show called Firing Line  where he debated with leading figures, including the elder President Bush, Germaine Greer, the Dalai Lama and Margaret Thatcher. His style of speaking was satirised by many impressionists, including the TV programme Sesame Street, but he is widely credited with offering the intellectual framework which led to the resurgence of the Republican party and the Reagan presidency.

Matthew Bannister talks to the columnist and former speechwriter for George W Bush, David Frum, who first met William Buckley when he was a student at Yale University.

William F Buckley Jnr was born November 24th 1925. He died February 27th 2008.
David Watkin
British cinematographer who has died aged 82

David Watkin worked on films such as Chariots of Fire , The Charge of the Light Brigade , Chariots of Fire and he won an Oscar for the photography on the1985 movie Out of Africa:.

David Watkin would often work with the same director, making six films with Tony Richardson and at least three with Franco Zeffirelli, including Endless Love  and Tea with Mussolini.  Peter Brook chose David Watkin to take on the considerable challenge of turning the stage play Marat/Sade  into a movie.

David Watkin was born into an upper middle class family in Margate. His father was a lawyer who worked for the railways. David’s early ambition to be a classical pianist was squashed because his father objected to the noise of his practice.

Matthew Bannister talks to David Watkin's close friend Chris Mullen and to the director Peter Brook.

David Watkin was born March 23rd 1925. He died February 19th 2008.
Dorothy Podber
New York performance artist who has died aged 75

On New Year’s day 2007, the writer Joy Bergmann set out with some trepidation to interview one of the most unpredictable and downright scary figures of the New York avant garde art scene of the 1950s and 60s. Dorothy Podber had survived a lifetime of drug and alcohol abuse, a colourful love life, including three marriages, and had a reputation for pulling outrageous stunts including shooting a stack of Marilyn Monroe silk screens at Andy Warhol's Factory.

At High School, Dorothy led student protests against the dress code and said she wanted to be a psychiatrist. In fact she fell in with the big players in New York’s avant garde scene, hanging out with people like Allen Ginsberg, John Cage and Jasper Johns. Her particular partnership was with the performance artist Ray Johnson. 
Matthew Bannister talks to Joy Bergmann.

Dorothy Podber was born in 1932. She died February 9th 2008.
Mike Smith
Singer and keyboard player in the Dave Clark Five  band who has died aged 64

The 1960s Dave Clark Five  band sold over one hundred million records and had thirty hit singles worldwide. His death comes less than two weeks before the band were due to be inducted into the American Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

Last Word hears Mike Smith singing Glad All Over.
Mike Smith was born December 1943. He died February 28th 2008.
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