Great LivesAuthor: BBC Radio 4
17 Aug 2018

Great Lives

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Biographical series in which guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

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    Simon Evans on JS Mill

    Towards the end of his comic rant about the descent of man, Simon Evans does something very dangerous. He starts to read out to his audience an extract of John Stuart Mill. Potential comedy death? In this programme he explains why the famous Victorian philosopher with the squirly hair is his idea of genius. As well as On Liberty, Mill wrote The Subjection of Women and was the first member of Parliament to call for women's right to vote. Joining him and Matthew Parris is Professor Anne Phillips of the London School of Economics. Simon Evans' latest show is Genius 2.0. He hosts Simon Evans Goes to Market on Radio 4. The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.

  • Posted on 14 Aug 2018

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    Erica Wagner on Roald Amundsen

    "We are ready to take the Pole in any kind of weather on offer," wrote the Norwegian Roald Amundsen in December 1911. Born in 1872, Amundsen is part of a group of men - including the playwright Henrik Ibsen and the explorer Fridjtof Nansen - who gave shape to Norwegian identity just as the country broke free from Sweden and achieved independence. He is also remembered as the man who beat the British explorer Scott to the South Pole. The different cultures of their two countries come under scrutiny in this episode. The nominator is Erica Wagner, former literary editor of The Times and a writer who knows Norway well. There are two experts - Pieter van de Merwe from the National Maritime Museum; and Roland Huntford, whose book on Scott and Amundsen caused an angry fuss when first published in 1979. The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.

  • Posted on 08 Aug 2018

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    Hanif Kureishi on David Bowie

    "Suddenly this light comes into your life" - says Hanif Kureishi, referring to his hero, his great life, David Bowie. Hanif, an author, screenwriter and film maker went on to become friends with Bowie in the 1990's after they worked together when Bowie wrote the soundtrack to Kureishi's TV adaptation 'The Buddha of Suburbia'. For Hanif it was also David Bowie who inspired him to become an author and filmmaker - he says for a "mixed race Pakistani kid living in a crummy terrace bored out of my mind, I wanted to get out - I wanted to explore, I wanted to express myself, I wanted to be free". Hanif gives his personal insight into the life of David Bowie; the expert witness is Dylan Jones - author of 'David Bowie A Life' and 'When Ziggy Played Guitar'. The presenter is Matthew Parris and the producer is Perminder Khatkar.

  • Posted on 31 Jul 2018

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    Barbara Stocking on Catherine the Great

    Catherine the Great assumed power in a St Petersburg coup, extended the empire into Crimea, Ukraine and Alaska. is Russia's longest lasting female ruler, and wasn't even Russian herself. All of this intrigues Dame Barbara Stocking, former head of Oxfam, who admires Catherine's leadership style. Biographer Virginia Rounding provides the details of her background and her lovers, and Matthew Parris presents. The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.

  • Posted on 29 May 2018

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    Suzy Klein on Hedy Lamarr

    Hedy Lamarr was described by her studio as the most beautiful woman in the world. A recent film, called Bombshell, argued that she was a brilliant inventor as well. But what was going on behind that wonderful face? Suzy Klein, host of the BBC Proms, tells Matthew Parris that this was an intriguing woman who continually reinvented herself. She left her native Austria before the Second World War but, despite a successful Hollywood career, what she really wanted was to be known for being clever. Recent newspaper headlines - including 'Sex Symbol by Day, Scientific Trailblazer by Night' - suggest her wishes may have finally come true. But Professor Hans-Joachim Braun isn't so sure. Film critic Antonia Quirke joins Matthew Parris in the studio to discuss a truly extraordinary life. The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.

  • Posted on 22 May 2018

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