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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 30th November 2007
(Rpt) Sunday 2nd December
Matthew Bannister
Matthew Bannister tells the life stories of people who have died recently. This week: Lord Bridge of Harwich, Peter Handford, William Tallon, Gunnie Moberg and Bud Ekins.
Lord Bridge of Harwich
Judge who has died aged 90

Lord Bridge of Harwich presided over some of the twentieth century’s most high profile trials. He was a dissenting voice in the Spycatcher case – when the government successfully sought an injunction to stop publication of Peter Wright’s memoirs, even though they were freely available in America. Lord Bridge correctly argued that the government would be condemned in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. He was chairman of the Security Commission in the 1980s and investigated a number of sensational spy scandals.

Nigel Bridge came from a very different background from those of his fellow Law Lords. He had never been to university and he had never met his father – a naval officer who abandoned his mother shortly after Nigel was born. He won a scholarship to Marlborough College, but left school aged seventeen to go travelling in Europe. After a stint as a local paper journalist, Nigel served in the army during the war, discovering a talent for advocacy when defending colleagues in courts martial. He was called to the bar in 1947.

Perhaps his most notorious case as a judge was the trial in 1975 of the Birmingham Six on charges of planting IRA bombs which led to six innocent men spending sixteen years in prison before their convictions were quashed in 1991.

Matthew Bannister talks to the Labour MP Chris Mullin who campaigned for their release and wrote a book on the trial along with Lord Bridge’s friend, the former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Lord Woolf .
Nigel Cyprian Bridge was born February 26th 1917.  He died November 20th 2007.
Peter Handford
Sound recordist who has died aged 88

Peter Handford made his name as a sound recordist. He took the techniques of his profession in a new direction by escaping from the confines of the studio to record on location.

He worked on many of the most influential movies of the English new wave of the 1960s, for example Entertainer, Room at the Top, Tom Jones, Charge of the Light Brigade and Oh What A Lovely War. He also worked with many top directors from Alfred Hitchcock to David Lean and from John Schlesinger to Sidney Pollack. His location recording skills were used in Dangerous Liaisons, Gorillas in the Mist and Murder on the Orient Express. This last film was particularly appropriate since Peter Handford’s hobby was recording the sound of steam trains. He built up an extensive archive of train recordings and even released some of them on his own record label. The archive is now at the National Railway Museum in York.

Matthew Bannister talks to the museum’s senior curator Richard Taylor, to Peter Handford’s biographer Andrew Clarke and to Peter’s wife, the actress Helen Fraser. 
Peter Thomas Handford was born March 21st 1919. He died November 6th 2007.
William Tallon
Royal retainer who has died aged 72.

For nearly fifty years, William Tallon was a loyal servant to the Queen Mother. His official title was Steward and Page of the Backstairs at Clarence House, which made him one of her closest personal members of staff. Known by the tabloid press as “Backstairs Billy”, William was never far from the Queen mother’s side, nursing her when she was ill and looking after her corgis. After her death, William left his home at Gate Lodge and took his collection of gifts from the Queen Mother to a housing association flat in Kennington in South London.

Matthew Bannister talks to William Tallon's close friend Robert Golden.

William Tallon was born November 12th 1935. He died November 23rd 2007.
Gunnie Moberg
Photographer who has died aged 66.

Gunnie Moberg made her name as a photographer by taking compelling and stark pictures of the people and landscape of her adopted home – Orkney. She was born in Gothenburg on the West Coast of Sweden into a middle class artistic family. Feeling stifled by the conformity of Swedish society, she moved to Scotland, where her creative journey began.

On Last Word her fellow Orcadian, Duncan Maclean wrote a special tribute to Gunnie Moberg. 

Gunnie Moberg was born May 8th 1941. She October 31st 2007.
Bud Ekins
Motorcyclist and stuntman who has died aged 77

Bud Ekins performed Steve McQueen’s motorcycle jump over a barbed wire fence at the end of the Great Escape. Although McQueen was an accomplished rider, the insurance company refused to allow him to make the jump and the stunt was actually performed by his friend. Ekins was the son of a mechanic, a rebellious teenager who spent time in reform school for stealing cars. In the 1940s and 50s he became a champion motorcyclist, winning medals for scrambling, motocross and desert racing. He also built up a collection of more than one hundred and fifty classic bikes and opened his own shop.

James Ekins was born May 11th 1930. He died October 6th 2007.
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