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Rank #49 in Personal Journals category

Society & Culture
Personal Journals

Great Lives

Updated 2 days ago

Rank #49 in Personal Journals category

Society & Culture
Personal Journals
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Biographical series in which guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

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

iTunes Ratings

240 Ratings
Average Ratings
166
32
14
16
12

I love them all and learn so much!

By loves sisters - Aug 12 2019
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I love them all and learn so much!

great Show

By Mikehillslasveg - May 08 2019
Read more
May: I wish someone would choose a boxer such as Mike Tyson, or Sugar Ray I love this show

iTunes Ratings

240 Ratings
Average Ratings
166
32
14
16
12

I love them all and learn so much!

By loves sisters - Aug 12 2019
Read more
I love them all and learn so much!

great Show

By Mikehillslasveg - May 08 2019
Read more
May: I wish someone would choose a boxer such as Mike Tyson, or Sugar Ray I love this show

The Best Episodes of:

Cover image of Great Lives

Great Lives

Updated 2 days ago

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

Rank #1: Ernest Hemingway

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Michael Palin first came across his Great Life when he was studying for school exams, and his love of Ernest Hemingway has never gone away. He, along with expert Naomi Wood, tells Matthew Parris why this twentieth century legend is a Great Life.

Producer: Perminder Khatkar.

May 27 2014

27mins

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Rank #2: George Orwell

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Whilst at school, a young Alan Johnson was given some money by a teacher and told to go and buy four copies of any book for the school library. He headed down the Kings Road in Chelsea, stopping only for a sly cigarette along the way. Having already read 'Animal Farm', he picked 'Keep the Aspidistra Flying' and yearned for the life of lead character Gordon Comstock.

In conversation with Matthew Parris, former Home Secretary Alan Johnson explains why Orwell was crucial to his education and political development. He's surprised to learn that Orwell is not on the National Curriculum, and insists that Orwell would have hated I.D. cards. They're joined by Jean Seaton, Professor of Media History at the University of Westminster and Chair of the Orwell Prize.

Orwell was in the news recently when the outgoing Director-General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, turned down a proposal to erect a statue of George Orwell outside BBC Broadcasting House, reportedly telling Joan Bakewell that it was 'far too Left-wing an idea.'

Producers: Beatrice Fenton and Toby Field.

From 2010.

Sep 28 2012

28mins

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Rank #3: Oscar Wilde

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Oscar Wilde, author of The Importance of Being Earnest and The Ballad of Reading Gaol, is proposed by Will Self, a writer once described as a 'high powered satirical weapon'.

In 1895, and at the height of his success, Wilde began libel proceedings against the Marquess of Queensberry, sparking a disastrous sequence of trials, prison, exile and disgrace. A century later Oscar Wilde is often listed as one of the wittiest Britons who ever lived, but this was a life that ended in tragedy and early death. Joining Will Self and Matthew Parris in the studio is Franny Moyle, author of a biography of Oscar Wilde's wife, Constance, an often overlooked character in Wilde's life. The programme features actor Simon Russell Beale's reading of De Profundis - From The Depths.

The producer is Miles Warde.

Apr 10 2012

28mins

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Rank #4: Walt Disney

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Satirical cartoonist Gerald Scarfe nominates Walt Disney.

Gerald Scarfe spent much of his childhood in his sick bed, so it's not surprising that Disney cartoons and feature films meant so much to him. He can still recall the thrill at the prospect of seeing Pinocchio at the cinema, and then the agony of being lead away again in the rain because the tickets were too expensive.

Walt Disney came from a working family. His god-fearing father Elias, said by one writer to have 'hated Capital, and favoured Labour, but really needed to make a buck', found work where he could. So Walt lived a peripatetic childhood, and sought solace in drawing and play acting. Hard times early on did not make Walt frugal with money in adulthood, and despite the huge successes of the golden era of Disney, it was only with the opening of Disneyland that Walt attained any substantial personal wealth.

You don't have to look far to find myth surrounding Walt Disney. Even after his death, rumours that his body had been cryogenically frozen spread so widely that they soon slipped into folklore. He had actually been cremated, but the readiness with which the cryogenic claim was accepted perhaps bears witness to a man who was terrified of dying, who believed in the white hope of technology and who, some might say, had been searching all his life for an escape into an immortal, fairytale world.

Matthew Parris, Gerald Scarfe and guest experts Brian Sibley and Richard Williams, creator of Roger Rabbit, discuss the life of a complex cultural icon. A man who was seemingly unpretentious, and did not fit the image of movie mogul with his scruffy tweed jacket and awkward demeanour, yet a man who was accused of being a tyrannical egomaniac. The son of a socialist who ended up naming names at the House of Un- American Activities committee. Above all else perhaps though, they discuss the life of a man who strove tirelessly for perfection and who changed the cultural landscape of a little boy called Gerald, and arguably of the world, for ever.

Scarfe himself is best known for his classic images lampooning the great and the good of politics, and also in his iconic animation for Pink Floyd's The Wall. He reveals in this programme that he also spent time working on the Disney production Hercules.

The producer is Miles Warde.

Sep 28 2010

28mins

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Rank #5: Roald Dahl

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Writer Roald Dahl is well known as the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr Fox and The BFG, but he was also fascinated by medical science. Professor Tom Solomon, who looked after him during his last illness, spent hours discussing medicine with Dahl.

Tom talks to Matthew Parris about Dahl's life and work, through the prism of his forensic interest in the workings of the human body. With them is Donald Sturrock, Dahl's biographer.

Producer Christine Hall.

Dec 30 2014

27mins

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Rank #6: Stephen Fry on PG Wodehouse

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Stephen Fry nominates his hero P.G Wodehouse, a writer who he says simply cheers him up like no one else. Fry wrote to his hero when he was a schoolboy and his most treasured possession is a signed photograph which reads: "To Stephen Fry, All the best, P. G. Wodehouse."
P.G Wodehouse was a self-made man, he began as a bank clerk, married a chorus girl and was interned by the Nazis. He wrote some of the most entertaining novels, stories, plays and lyrics of the twentieth century and created enduring characters; the most popular being Reginald Jeeves and Bertie Wooster.
Stephen Fry makes the case for why P.G Wodehouse is a great life. To help him he is joined by Dr Sophie Ratcliffe Associate Professor in English, University of Oxford and author of 'PG Wodehouse - A life in Letters'.
The presenter is Matthew Parris and the producer is Perminder Khatkar.

Aug 08 2017

29mins

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Rank #7: Suzannah Lipscomb on CS Lewis

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Step though the wardrobe on Great Lives as CS Lewis - creator of the Narnia Chronicles - is this week's choice. Lewis was a fascinating and extremely complicated man. Born in Northern Ireland, his mother died when he was a child, and his university career interrupted so he could go off and fight in the Great War. Historian Suzannah Lipscomb, who tweets as sixteenth century girl, says she finds his writings deeply moving and that they have influenced her faith. Matthew Parris is less convinced by the religious influence in his work. Malcolm Guite, contributer to the Cambridge Companion to CS Lewis, sits firmly on Suzannah Lipscomb's side.
The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.

Jan 03 2017

27mins

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Rank #8: Nina Simone

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The chanteuse, pianist, composer and civil rights activist Nina Simone is the choice of another female musician who has made a career of defying convention; Joanna Macgregor. Presented by Matthew Parris.

Nov 27 2013

28mins

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Rank #9: Salvador Dali

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John Cooper Clarke, poetry's Punk Laureate, nominates Salvador Dali, the surrealist behind melting clocks, lobster telephones, and that trademark moustache.

Matthew Paris asks whether Dali was a genius artist or just a gifted marketeer of his own brand image, who latterly embraced commercialism.

"Both" comes the resounding answer from his champion John Cooper Clarke and the art historian Professor Dawn Ades, who recalls meeting the artist when just she just rang his doorbell in Figueres, Catalonia, back in 1968.

Producer: Mark Smalley

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2013.

May 14 2013

27mins

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Rank #10: William Shakespeare

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No less a figure than the national bard, William Shakespeare, is nominated for great life status by poetry curator and TV producer, Daisy Goodwin. Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director of the Globe Theatre joins Matthew Parris to put flesh on the life that is remarkably light on known and verifiable facts. How and why did this son of an illiterate glovemaker from Stratford on Avon come to bestride the international stage, adopted not only as England's national poet, but even displacing Goethe and Schiller in Germany? Dromgoole argues that more than a sense of the man is conveyed in his 37 plays.

Producer: Mark Smalley.

Oct 07 2011

28mins

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Rank #11: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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Broadcaster Gyles Brandreth nominates Sir Arthur Conan Doyle as his "Great Life". Matthew Parris chairs, assisted by biographer Andrew Lycett.

Conan Doyle is best known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes. This always irritated him, and he tried to kill off the great detective, only to bring him back by popular demand. But there was more to Conan Doyle than Holmes. A footballer, cricketer, skier,, a campaigner against the Belgian atrocities in the Congo, and most startlingly, a convinced spiritualist who believed in fairies.

The paradox of Conan Doyle's life was that, having invented the most rational, cerebral fictional character of all time, he himself embraced superstition and behaved in ways that caused even his allies to despair of his credulity.

Apr 30 2013

27mins

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Rank #12: Toyah Willcox on Katharine Hepburn

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Dubbed an 'oddity' and 'box office poison', she liked to goad the press and public with her eccentric behaviour and unconventional love life. Her career in Hollywood spanned six decades, during which she starred alongside other Hollywood greats, including James Stewart, Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart and Spencer Tracy.

The four time Oscar award winning actress Katharine Hepburn is this week's Great Life. She is championed by singer and actress Toyah Willcox. The expert is Dr Mark Glancy - Reader in Film History, at Queen Mary, University of London. The presenter is Matthew Parris. The producer is Perminder Khatkar.

Sep 29 2015

27mins

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Rank #13: Sara Pascoe on Virginia Woolf

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Sara Pascoe champions the life of Virginia Woolf, author of 'Mrs Dalloway' and 'A Room of One's Own', describing her as a sensible feminist. Sara explains why she thinks if she were alive today, Woolf would be a comedian, and how through her diaries and letters she's discovered the witty, manic and egotistical Virginia. Presenter Matthew Parris confesses to struggling with her work. Alexandra Harris is the expert.

Producer: Toby Field.

Aug 16 2016

27mins

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Rank #14: Matt Lucas on Freddie Mercury

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Matt Lucas chooses Freddie Mercury of Queen. The author of Bohemian Rhapsody, Lesley-Ann Jones, joins him to dissect a legend.

To what extent can a troubled childhood contribute to an adult's need to perform? Farrokh Bulsara was born in Zanzibar, sent to school in India, and fled revolution in Zanzibar to Feltham, Middlesex, aged 18. His family were Parsees and Freddie, as he became better known, was brought up as a Zoroastrian. He also became one of the greatest singer songwriters in British rock history.

Matt Lucas - of Little Britain, Shooting Stars and Doctor Who - was entranced by Freddie from an early age. In this revealing, funny tribute, Matt explains how Freddie inspired him to perform, and unveils his Montserrat Caballe impression on the world. Lesley-Ann Jones knew the band as a 'young scumbag journalist' and provides an eyewitness account of watching Freddie from the wings.

The presenter is Matthew Parris, the producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.

Jan 22 2019

30mins

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Rank #15: Lucy Porter on Cary Grant

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The comedian and writer Lucy Porter champions Cary Grant as her Great Life finding that, despite his troubled relationships with women off screen, his on screen charm and generosity towards his female co stars redeems him. Lucy joins Matthew Parris along with Grant's biographer, Geoffrey Wansell, to discuss the troubled screen icon's humble beginnings in Bristol and following him to the glamour and wealth of Los Angeles.

Producer: Maggie Ayre.

Dec 02 2016

27mins

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Rank #16: Barbara Stocking on Catherine the Great

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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.

May 29 2018

28mins

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Rank #17: Sir Brendan Barber on John Steinbeck

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Matthew Parris is joined by trade unionist Sir Brendan Barber who nominates American author John Steinbeck as his Great Life. The author of The Grapes of Wrath aimed to fight the cause of the common man, was derided by the right as a Communist and by the left as a sell-out for supporting the Vietnam war. Brendan Barber picks through the politics and explains how Steinbeck influenced him as a teenager to look towards joining the trade union movement.

After early success, describing the catastrophic effects of the Great Depression and the Dustbowl in Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck became war correspondant, nobel laureate, presidential speechwriter, Hollywood scriptwriter, and environmentalist. Professor Christopher Bigsby from the University of East Anglia helps guide us through the life of a man described as 'America's Charles Dickens'.

Producer: Melvin Rickarby

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in September 2013.

Sep 24 2013

28mins

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Rank #18: Eliza Manningham-Buller on Abraham Lincoln

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This week it's the turn of a former director of MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, who tells Matthew Parris why she regards Abraham Lincoln as a great life. But will her hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life? The expert is Dr Tony Hutchison, from the American Studies Department at the University of Nottingham. The producer is Perminder Khatkar.

Jan 26 2016

27mins

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Rank #19: Edith Wharton

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"If only we'd stop trying to be happy we could have a pretty good time." Edith Wharton is as well known for her wit as for her novels. Born in 1862, she was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, for The Age of Innocence in 1921. She is nominated by Naomi Wolf, the provocative American commentator and author of The Beauty Myth.
Presenter Matthew Parris is also joined in the studio by Janet Beer and Avril Horner.

The producer is Jolyon Jenkins.

From 2012.

Sep 25 2012

27mins

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Rank #20: Antonia Quirke on Marlon Brando

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Marlon Brando - greatest actor of the twentieth century ? Film critic Antonia Quirke definitely thinks he is. But the star of the Godfather, On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire divides opinion in this lively assessment of his life. With contributions from writer Robyn Karney and Joe Queenan in the United States. Matthew Parris presents.
The producer is Miles Warde.

May 12 2015

27mins

Play