Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
28/09/200120140612 (BBC7)
20140613 (BBC7)

Writer Frank Delaney and biographer Hilary Spurling discuss the painter Henri Matisse.

Writer Frank Delaney and biographer Hilary Spurling discuss the painter Henri Matisse. With Humphrey Carpenter. From September 2001.

The biographical series in which a distinguished guest chooses someone who has inspired their life. Will their hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life?

Anton Chekhov20150611 (BBC7)
20150612 (BBC7)

Theatre director Sir Richard Eyre nominates Russian writer Anton Chekhov.

4 Extra Debut. Theatre director Sir Richard Eyre nominates Russian writer Anton Chekhov. With Humphrey Carpenter. From May 2004.

Clr James20141023 (BBC7)
20141024 (BBC7)

Darcus Howe discusses his uncle, the sportsman, writer and revolutionary CLR James.

Darcus Howe chooses activist and philosopher CLR James, with help from his biographer Farrukh Dhondy. Presented by Humphrey Carpenter.

The biographical series in which a distinguished guest chooses someone who's inspired their life. Will their hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life? From 2002.

Elizabeth I20150212 (BBC7)
20150213 (BBC7)

Broadcaster and campaigner Esther Rantzen chooses Queen Elizabeth I.

Broadcaster and campaigner Esther Rantzen chooses Queen Elizabeth I. With Humphrey Carpenter.

The biographical series in which a distinguished guest chooses someone who's inspired their life. Will their hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life? From 2003.

G K Chesterson20150115 (BBC7)
20150116 (BBC7)

Richard Ingrams nominates author and journalist GK Chesterton for regularly being right.

Richard Ingrams nominates author and journalist GK Chesterton for regularly being right. With Humphrey Carpenter. From May 2003.

The biographical series in which a distinguished guest chooses someone who's inspired their life. Will their hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life?

Gk Chesterson20150115 (BBC7)
20150116 (BBC7)

Richard Ingrams nominates author and journalist GK Chesterton for regularly being right.

Richard Ingrams nominates author and journalist GK Chesterton for regularly being right. With Humphrey Carpenter. From May 2003.

The biographical series in which a distinguished guest chooses someone who's inspired their life. Will their hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life?

Hg Wells20140508 (BBC7)
20140509 (BBC7)

Writer Fay Weldon and biographer Vincent Brome discuss the life of visionary novelist HG Wells. With Humphrey Carpenter. From 2001.

The biographical series in which a distinguished guest chooses someone who's inspired their life. Will their hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life?

Writer Fay Weldon and biographer Vincent Brome discuss the life of the visionary novelist.

Katherine Graham20140925 (BBC7)
20140926 (BBC7)

Broadcaster Kirsty Young chooses newspaper publisher Katherine Graham.

4 Extra Debut. Broadcaster Kirsty Young chooses newspaper publisher Katherine Graham. With Humphrey Carpenter. From August 2002.

Broadcaster Kirsty Young chooses newspaper publisher Katherine Graham. With Humphrey Carpenter. From August 2002.

King Hussein20140710 (BBC7)
20140711 (BBC7)

Racing driver Jackie Stewart discusses King Hussein of Jordan with writer Patrick Seale.

Racing driver Jackie Stewart discusses his good friend King Hussein of Jordan with writer Patrick Seale.

The biographical series in which a distinguished guest chooses someone who's inspired their life. Will their hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life? From 2001.

Michelin Brothers20140522 (BBC7)
20140523 (BBC7)

Sir Terence Conran nominates the Michelin brothers, makers of the pneumatic tyre.

Sir Terence Conran nominates the Michelin brothers, makers of the detachable pneumatic tyre. With Joan Bakewell. From 2001.

The biographical series in which a distinguished guest chooses someone who's inspired their life. Will their hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life?

Mr James20141106 (BBC7)
20141107 (BBC7)

Writer and broadcaster Muriel Gray chooses ghost story writer, MR James. With Humphrey Carpenter.

The biographical series in which a distinguished guest chooses someone who's inspired their life. Will their hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life? From 2002.

Muriel Gray and Christopher Frayling discuss the life of ghost story writer MR James.

4 Extra Debut. Muriel Gray and Christopher Frayling discuss the life of ghost story writer MR James. With Humphrey Carpenter. From November 2002.

Noel Coward20150319 (BBC7)
20150320 (BBC7)

TV producer Peter Bazalgette chooses the actor, lyricist and playwright, Noel Coward.

4 Extra Debut. TV producer Peter Bazalgette chooses the actor, lyricist and playwright, Noel Coward. With Humphrey Carpenter. From October 2003.

Rachmaninov20141225 (BBC7)
20141226 (BBC7)

Conductor Leonard Slatkin proposes composer Sergei Rachmaninov for great life status.

Conductor Leonard Slatkin proposes composer Sergei Rachmaninov for great life status. With Humphrey Carpenter.

The biographical series in which a distinguished guest chooses someone who's inspired their life. Will their hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life? From 2003.

Scott Of The Antartic20141218 (BBC7)
20141219 (BBC7)

Author Beryl Bainbridge selects explorer Falcon Scott as a hidden romantic.

Author Beryl Bainbridge selects explorer Falcon Scott as a hidden romantic. With Humphrey Carpenter and Bob Headland.

The biographical series in which a distinguished guest chooses someone who's inspired their life. Will their hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life? From 2003.

Sir Ernest Shackleton20140515 (BBC7)
20140516 (BBC7)

The polar explorer's life is scrutinised by Rosie Boycott and his granddaughter Alexandra.

The polar explorer's life is scrutinised by Rosie Boycott and his grand-daughter Alexandra. With Humphrey Carpenter. From 2001.

The biographical series in which a distinguished guest chooses someone who's inspired their life. Will their hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life?

Viscount Slim20140807 (BBC7)
20140808 (BBC7)

Lord Carrington and Lord John Slim discuss military leader, Field-Marshal Viscount Slim. With Humphrey Carpenter. From 2002.

Each week Humphrey Carpenter invites famous people to nominate great lives for discussion.

Margaret Thatcher's Foreign Secretary and former Secretary General of NATO, Lord Carrington chooses the overlooked Second World War military leader, Field-Marshal Viscount Slim, who he first met in the Australia of the 1950s.

Slim's son John explains how his father was known as 'Uncle Bill' to the men of the 14th Army during the arduous Burma Campaign.

Lord Carrington and Lord John Slim discuss military leader, Field-Marshal Viscount Slim.

Vivekananda20140703 (BBC7)
20140704 (BBC7)

Rabbi Lionel Blue and Gwilym Beckerlegge discuss Swami Vivekananda.

Rabbi Lionel Blue and Gwilym Beckerlegge debate the 19th century Hindu missionary and thinker, Swami Vivekananda.

The biographical series in which a distinguished guest chooses someone who's inspired their life. Will their hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life? From 2001.

07Series 15, Edward Lear2012051820120512 (BBC7)

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Nicholas Parsons nominates artist and writer Edward Lear, now remembered best for The Owl and the Pussycat, The Jumblies and other nonsense verse for children.

Nicholas Parsons nominates Edward Lear, now remembered best for his nonsense verse.

04Dr Samuel Johnson20150528 (BBC7)
20150529 (BBC7)

Poet Kit Wright chooses author and creator of the English dictionary, Dr Samuel Johnson. With Humphrey Carpenter. From October 2003.

Poet Kit Wright chooses author and creator of the English dictionary, Dr Samuel Johnson.

04Mary Kingsley20150416 (BBC7)
20150417 (BBC7)

Journalist Ann Leslie chooses the pioneering writer and explorer Mary Kingsley.

Journalist Ann Leslie chooses the pioneering writer and explorer Mary Kingsley. With Humphrey Carpenter. From December 2003.

04Octavia Hill20150521 (BBC7)
20150522 (BBC7)

Trade unionist and politician Brenda Dean chooses National Trust founder Octavia Hill.

4 Extra Debut. Trade unionist and politician Brenda Dean chooses National Trust founder Octavia Hill. With Humphrey Carpenter. From November 2003.

0505/11/200420150730 (BBC7)
20150731 (BBC7)

Writer and broadcaster Tim Marlow chooses innovative singer Marvin Gaye.

4 Extra Debut. Writer and broadcaster Tim Marlow chooses innovative singer Marvin Gaye. With Humphrey Carpenter and Norman Jay. From November 2004.

05Captain Henry Morgan20150827 (BBC7)
20150828 (BBC7)

Writer and photographer Lucinda Lambton chooses the supposed pirate captain.

Writer and photographer Lucinda Lambton chooses the supposed pirate Captain Henry Morgan. With Humphrey Carpenter, assisted by David Cordingley. From December 2004.

05Edith Wharton20150604 (BBC7)
20150605 (BBC7)

Publisher Kimberly Fortier chooses American writer Edith Wharton.

4 Extra Debut. Publisher Kimberly Fortier chooses American writer Edith Wharton. With Professor Janet Beer and Humphrey Carpenter. From May 2004.

05Edward Elgar20150806 (BBC7)
20150807 (BBC7)

Writer, broadcaster and charity founder Marjorie Wallace chooses composer Edward Elgar.

4 Extra Debut. Writer, broadcaster and charity founder Marjorie Wallace chooses composer Edward Elgar. With Humphrey Carpenter. From November 2004.

Writer, broadcaster and charity founder Marjorie Wallace chooses composer Edward Elgar. With Humphrey Carpenter. From November 2004.

05Gilbert And Sullivan20150702 (BBC7)
20150703 (BBC7)

Actress Dillie Keane chooses the musical duo Gilbert and Sullivan. With Mike Leigh. Presented by Humphrey Carpenter. From October 2004.

Actress Dillie Keane chooses the musical duo Gilbert and Sullivan.

05Leonard Woolf20150723 (BBC7)
20150724 (BBC7)

4 Extra Debut. Jilly Goolden nominates writer and political thinker Leonard Woolf.

4 Extra Debut. Jilly Goolden nominates writer and political thinker Leonard Woolf, joined by biographer Victoria Glendinning and host Humphrey Carpenter. From October 2004.

05Lyndon Johnson20150514 (BBC7)
20150515 (BBC7)

Veteran journalist Charles Wheeler chooses the USA's 36th president.

Veteran journalist Charles Wheeler chooses the USA's 36th president, Lyndon Johnson. With Humphrey Carpenter. From May 2004.

05Michael Collins20150813 (BBC7)
20150814 (BBC7)

Film producer Lord Puttnam chooses the Irish nationalist leader Michael Collins. With Humphrey Carpenter. From November 2004.

Film producer Lord Puttnam chooses the Irish nationalist leader Michael Collins.

05Robert Fitzroy20150709 (BBC7)
20150710 (BBC7)

Baroness Margaret Jay chooses pioneering meteorologist Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy.

Baroness Margaret Jay chooses pioneering meteorologist Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy. With Humphrey Carpenter. From October 2004.

0510Mary Kingsley2003120520150416 (BBC7)
20150417 (BBC7)

Journalist Ann Leslie chooses the pioneering writer and explorer Mary Kingsley.

Journalist Ann Leslie chooses the pioneering writer and explorer Mary Kingsley. With Humphrey Carpenter. From December 2003.

0603Tchaikovsky2004041620150423 (BBC7)
20150424 (BBC7)

Economist Ruth Lea chooses the great Russian composer. Stephen Johnson adds his expertise.

Economist Ruth Lea chooses the great Russian composer. Music critic and writer Stephen Johnson adds his expertise. With Humphrey Carpenter. From April 2004.

is the subject of this week's Great Lives, chosen by Ruth Lea, economist and head of the Centre for Policy Studies.

Humphrey Carpenter chairs the discussion, and looks at some of the myths that surround the life and death of the Russian composer.

Did he commit suicide or die of cholera, and was he troubled by his homosexuality? Music critic and writer Stephen Johnson adds his expertise, and the programme comes from the Oxford Literary Festival.

0604Tom Paine2004042320150430 (BBC7)
20150501 (BBC7)

Writer and political activist George Monbiot chooses 18th-century revolutionary Tom Paine.

Writer and political activist George Monbiot chooses 18th-century revolutionary Tom Paine. With Humphrey Carpenter. From April 2004.

In a programme from the Oxford literary festival, radical author and activist George Monbiot champions the cause of Tom Paine, the eighteenth century writer who was at the centre of both the American and French revolutions.

Why was a man who strongly influenced the American declaration of independence eventually disowned by his adopted country?

Chad Goodwin, chairman of the Thomas Paine society, lends his support, and the discussion is chaired by Humphrey Carpenter

With Humphrey Carpenter.

From April 2004.

In a programme from the Oxford literary festival, radical author and activist George Monbiot champions the cause of Tom Paine, the eighteenth century writer who was at the centre of both the American and French revolutions. Why was a man who strongly influenced the American declaration of independence eventually disowned by his adopted country?

07Charles M Schulz20150917 (BBC7)
20150918 (BBC7)

Journalist Valerie Grove chooses Charles M Schulz, creator of the Peanuts cartoon strip.

Journalist and biographer Valerie Grove chooses Charles M Schulz, creator of the Peanuts cartoon strip. Schulz's widow Jeannie provides biographical insights and Anita O'Brien, curator of the Cartoon Art Trust, puts the cartoon in its historical context.

07Duke Of Wellington20151112 (BBC7)
20151113 (BBC7)

Best-selling novelist Frederick Forsyth nominates the Duke of Wellington.

4 Extra Debut. Novelist Frederick Forsyth chooses the 'Iron Duke', the Duke of Wellington. With Andrew Roberts and Francine Stock. From June 2005.

Novelist Frederick Forsyth chooses the 'Iron Duke', the Duke of Wellington. With Andrew Roberts and Francine Stock. From June 2005.

07Genghis Khan20150903 (BBC7)
20150904 (BBC7)

American commentator Joe Queenan chooses the Mongol leader Genghis Khan.

American commentator Joe Queenan chooses the Mongol leader Genghis Khan. With Francine Stock. From April 2005.

07George Sand20150910 (BBC7)
20150911 (BBC7)

Mary Kenny nominates the 19th-century French novelist.

4 Extra Debut. Mary Kenny nominates the 19th-century French novelist, while biographer Belinda Jack offers expert advice. With Francine Stock. From April 2005.

07John D Rockefeller20151015 (BBC7)
20151016 (BBC7)

Financier and arts leader Martin Smith chooses US business tycoon, John D Rockerfeller.

4 Extra Debut. Financier and arts leader Martin Smith chooses American business tycoon, John D Rockerfeller. With Francine Stock. From May 2005.

07Mozart20151008 (BBC7)
20151009 (BBC7)

Michael Morpurgo nominates Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, assisted by Stephen Johnson.

4 Extra Debut. Former Children's Laureate Michael Morpurgo selects composer Wolfgang Mozart. With Francine Stock and Stephen Johnson. From April 2005.

Former Children's Laureate Michael Morpurgo selects composer Wolfgang Mozart. With Francine Stock and Stephen Johnson. From April 2005.

07Robert Louis Stevenson20150924 (BBC7)
20150925 (BBC7)

Poet Douglas Dunn nominates Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island.

Series of biographical discussions with Francine Stock. Poet Douglas Dunn nominates Robert Louis Stevenson, explaining that the first book he ever read was Treasure Island and that he has loved its author ever since. Biographer Claire Harman fills in the details of a short but energetic life that began in Edinburgh and ended on the island of Samoa.

07Ronald Reagan20151105 (BBC7)
20151106 (BBC7)

Lord Powell nominates Ronald Reagan, with assistance from Edmund Morris.

Lord Powell, Margaret Thatcher's foreign affairs adviser, chooses US President Ronald Reagan. With Francine Stock. From May 2005.

0707George Orwell - Shami Chakrabarti20041112
08Mae West20151119 (BBC7)
20151120 (BBC7)

Writer Kathy Lette proposes the blondest bombshell of them all, Mae West.

4 Extra Debut. Writer Kathy Lette proposes the blondest bombshell of them all, Mae West, and discusses the queen of the quip with biographer Simon Louvish. From October 2005.

08Nevil Shute20160121 (BBC7)
20160122 (BBC7)

Adam Hart-Davis selects 'On the Beach' and 'A Town Like Alice' novelist Nevil Shute.

4 Extra Debut. Broadcaster Adam Hart-Davis selects 'On the Beach' and 'A Town Like Alice' novelist Nevil Shute. With Francine Stock. From December 2005.

08Rd Laing20151126 (BBC7)
20151127 (BBC7)

Carole Stone discusses the charismatic guru hailed during the 60s as a great philosopher.

Carole Stone and RD Laing's son Adrian discuss the charismatic guru hailed during the 60s as one of the greatest philosophers of his age. From October 2005.

08Samuel Coleridge-taylor20151203 (BBC7)
20151204 (BBC7)

Howard Goodall champions the first black musician to attend the Royal College of Music.

4 Extra Debut. Howard Goodall chooses the pioneering 19th-century black composer, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. With Francine Stock. From October 2005.

09Andrew Carnegie20060411 (BBC7)
20160204 (BBC7)
20160205 (BBC7)

Jeff Randall explores the life of the businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

4 Extra Debut. Financial journalist Jeff Randall chooses businessman and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie. With Matthew Parris. From November 2006.

09Ignaz Semmelweis20160303 (BBC7)
20160304 (BBC7)

Frances Cairncross nominates a forgotten hero of medicine, Ignaz Semmelweis.

4 Extra Debut. Writer Frances Cairncross chooses a pioneer of antiseptic medical procedures, Ignaz Semmelweis. With Matthew Parris. From May 2006.

09Johnny Weissmuller20160225 (BBC7)
20160226 (BBC7)

Duncan Goodhew nominates athlete-turned-actor Johnny Weissmuller.

4 Extra Debut. Duncan Goodhew champions the athlete who found fame as an actor. With Matthew Parris and Johnny Weissmuller Jr. From May 2006.

09Morecambe And Wise2006040720151217 (BBC7)
20151218 (BBC7)

Penelope Keith champions the achievements of one of the most famous comic duos of all time

Actress Penelope Keith nominates legendary comedy double-act Morecambe and Wise as masters of classless entertainment.

On Christmas day in 1977, almost 29 million people sat down to watch Morecambe And Wise on BBC One. With false noses galore, Penelope co-starred alongside them in Ernie's play Cyrano de Bergerac. After this show, the duo defected back to ITV.

So will Penelope's two heroes stand up to intensive scrutiny from Mathew Parris and merit the description of having led great lives?

With Eric Morecambe's son Gary, who offers some fascinating insights into his father's background and how he viewed his success.

Producer: Miles Warde

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in November 2006.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

1/10. On Christmas Day in 1977, almost 29 million people sat down to watch Morecambe and Wise. One of their guests was Penelope Keith, who here nominates the masters of classless entertainment for Great Lives.

She is ably backed up by Eric Morecambe's son, Gary, while presenter Matthew Parris prefers a more waspish approach.

09Robin Day2006060920160317 (BBC7)
20160318 (BBC7)

News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy nominates his illustrious predecessor Robin Day.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris. News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy nominates his illustrious predecessor Robin Day. During the height of his career, Day was regarded as Britain's finest political interviewer. Some salute him for breaking the mould of deferential interviewing but others think he bullied his subjects and stole the limelight himself with his mannered performances. From June 2006.

10/10. News presenter Krishnan Guru-Murthy nominates his illustrious predecessor Robin Day.

During the height of his career, Day was regarded as Britain's finest political interviewer - the great inquisitor - on television and radio. Some salute him for breaking the mould of deferential interviewing, but others think he bullied his subjects and stole the limelight himself with his mannered performances.

Krishnan Guru-Murthy explains why, for him, Day remains a hero, and we hear archive evidence.

Matthew Parris chairs the programme.

09Sigmund Freud20160211 (BBC7)
20160212 (BBC7)

Craig Brown nominates the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.

4 Extra Debut. Satirist Craig Brown chooses the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud. With Adam Phillips and Matthew Parris. From April 2006.

0905Ella Fitzgerald2006050220060506
20160218 (BBC7)
20160219 (BBC7)

The entrepreneur Ivan Massow chooses the singer, Ella Fitzgerald. With Matthew Parris and singer Dame Cleo Laine. From May 2006.

Ivan Massow nominates the great jazz singer, with expert advice from Cleo Laine.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

5/10. Ella Fitzgerald

The singer is the choice of entrepreneur Ivan Massow. He joins presenter Matthew Parris and Dame Cleo Laine to explore the contradictions in the life of the woman they called 'the First Lady of Song'.

Producer Isobel Eaton.

10Charles Darwin20160505 (BBC7)
20160506 (BBC7)

Businessman and academic Adair Turner talks about the life of Charles Darwin.

4 Extra Debut. Lord Adair Turner joins Matthew Parris to discuss the life and work of Charles Darwin. With Professor James Moore. From September 2006.

10Eleanor Roosevelt20160407 (BBC7)
20160408 (BBC7)

Helena Kennedy champions Eleanor Roosevelt, who become a formidable campaigner.

4 Extra Debut. Helena Kennedy on Eleanor Roosevelt, human rights campaigner. With Matthew Paris and biographer, Blanche Wiesen Cook. From August 2006.

10Leon Trotsky20160324 (BBC7)
20160325 (BBC7)

Christopher Hitchens nominates Leon Trotsky, hero of the Russian Revolution.

4 Extra Debut. Writer and journalist Christopher Hitchens chooses Russian revolutionary leader, Leon Trotsky. With Matthew Parris. From August 2006.

10Max Miller20160519 (BBC7)
20160520 (BBC7)

Garry Bushell nominates the 'cheeky chappie' who portrayed the voice of the working class.

4 Extra Debut. Garry Bushell chooses the music hall comedian. With Matthew Parris and first-hand expert analysis from Roy Hudd. From August 2006.

10Nina Simone20160331 (BBC7)
20160401 (BBC7)

Joanna MacGregor talks about the acclaimed chanteuse, pianist, composer and activist.

Joanna MacGregor chooses the singer, pianist and activist. With Matthew Parris and expert analysis from Mark Coles. From September 2006.

1008Tamara Karsavina2006052320060526
20160310 (BBC7)
20160311 (BBC7)

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris. Anna Raeburn nominates ballerina Tamara Karsavina, the leading female dancer in Diaghilev's Ballet Russes from its beginning in 1909 until 1922. In England she coached Margot Fonteyn and created roles for Frederick Ashton. From May 2006.

Anna Raeburn chooses the Russian ballerina, Tamara Karsavina.

Writer and broadcaster Anna Raeburn nominates the ballerina Tamara Karsavina.

Born in Russia in 1885 she was caught up in the October revolution and fled to England where she lived until her death in 1978.

She was the leading female dancer in Diaghilev's Ballet Russes from its beginning in 1909 until 1922, and her partnership with Nijinsky created many of the greatest ballet roles that we know.

In England she coached Margot Fonteyn and created roles for Frederick Ashton.

Anna Raeburn explains why Karsavina still lives for her.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

8/10. Tamara Karsavina

Writer and broadcaster Anna Raeburn nominates the ballerina Tamara Karsavina. Born in Russia in 1885 she was caught up in the October revolution and fled to England where she lived until her death in 1978.

She was the leading female dancer in Diaghilev's Ballet Russes from its beginning in 1909 until 1922, and her partnership with Nijinsky created many of the greatest ballet roles that we know. In England she coached Margot Fonteyn and created roles for Frederick Ashton.

11Albert Einstein20160602 (BBC7)
20160603 (BBC7)

Scientist and broadcaster Kathy Sykes chooses the iconic physicist, Albert Einstein.

Time Magazine called him The Man of the Century and others have said he was 'the greatest Jew since Jesus'. His theories still make our brains spin, but what was Einstein like as a person? TV science presenter Professor Kathy Sykes discusses the archetypal crazy genius with Matthew Parris and Einstein's biographer, John Gribbin.

11John H Hammond20061212 (BBC7)
20160512 (BBC7)
20160513 (BBC7)

Joe Boyd discusses the career of record producer John H Hammond with Matthew Parris.

In a career that stretched from 1932 to 1985, legendary record producer John Hammond discovered Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and Bruce Springsteen. He also worked tirelessly to end race discrimination in the music industry.

Record producer Joe Boyd discusses Hammond's career with Matthew Parris and with Dunstan Prial, author of a new biography of Hammond.

11Millicent Garrett Fawcett20061219 (BBC7)
20160526 (BBC7)
20160527 (BBC7)

Feminist campaigner Lesley Abdela discusses the extraordinary suffragette leader.

For 50 years, Millicent Garrett Fawcett struggled to win the right to vote for women in Britain, yet today she is little-known compared to the suffragette leaders who took a more militant course. Feminist campaigner Lesley Abdela discusses the extraordinary 'MGF', with Matthew Parris and historian Elizabeth Crawford.

11Pope John Paul Ii20160616 (BBC7)
20160617 (BBC7)

Ann Widdicombe MP nominates the late pontiff, who agreed with her on women priests.

Ann Widdicombe MP, famous for her opposition to women priests, nominates the late pontiff, who felt just as strongly on the matter. Malachi O'Doherty, author of 'I Was a Teenage Catholic', joins the debate.

1201Joe Strummer20070403 (BBC7)
20160623 (BBC7)
20160624 (BBC7)

With Matthew Parris. Phill Jupitus nominates former Clash frontman Joe Strummer.

Comedian and broadcaster Phill Jupitus chooses the lead singer of The Clash, Joe Strummer. With Matthew Parris. From April 2007.

1202Millicent Garrett Fawcett2006121920061222
20160526 (BBC7)
20160527 (BBC7)

For 50 years, Millicent Garrett Fawcett struggled to win the right to vote for women in Britain, yet today she is little-known compared to the suffragette leaders who took a more militant course.

Feminist campaigner Lesley Abdela discusses the extraordinary 'MGF', with Matthew Parris and historian Elizabeth Crawford

Feminist campaigner Lesley Abdela discusses the extraordinary suffragette leader.

For 50 years, Millicent Garrett Fawcett struggled to win the right to vote for women in Britain, yet today she is little-known compared to the suffragette leaders who took a more militant course. Feminist campaigner Lesley Abdela discusses the extraordinary 'MGF', with Matthew Parris and historian Elizabeth Crawford.

1204Marie Curie20070424 (BBC7)
20160714 (BBC7)
20160715 (BBC7)

Pallab Ghosh explains how Marie Curie achieved fame through her work on radioactivity.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

4/9. BBC Science Correspondent Pallab Ghosh explains how Marie Curie achieved iconic status through her work on radioactivity and weighs up the cost she paid for her success. The studio guest is Curie biographer Sarah Dry.

1205Billie Holiday20070501 (BBC7)
20160721 (BBC7)
20160722 (BBC7)

Singer and actress Pauline Black chooses a jazz legend, the singer Billie Holiday.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

5/9. Pauline Black, lead singer with The Selecter, nominates Billie Holiday, one of the greatest jazz singers of all time. Pauline played Billie in an award-winning stage role in 1990. Guest is Julia Blackburn, whose book With Billie was based on the observations of people who knew her.

1206Mata Hari20070508 (BBC7)
20160804 (BBC7)
20160805 (BBC7)

Fiona Bruce chooses the femme fatale, international spy and exotic dancer, Mata Hari.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

6/9. Fiona Bruce champions the claim to greatness of the notorious femme fatale Mata Hari. Was she a dangerous double agent or a casualty of war, and how did her name become synonymous with sleaze and betrayal? Studio guest is historian Julie Wheelwright.

1207Claude Mckay20070515 (BBC7)
20160811 (BBC7)
20160812 (BBC7)

Theatre director, actress and writer Yvonne Brewster nominates poet Claude McKay.

4 Extra Debut. Theatre director Yvonne Brewster chooses poet, and key figure of 1920s Harlem, Claude McKay. With Matthew Parris. From May 2007.

1208Julius Caesar2007013020070202
20070522 (BBC7)
20160901 (BBC7)
20160902 (BBC7)

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

8/9. Archaeologist Barry Cunliffe nominates Julius Caesar.

A brilliant orator and military tactician, Caesar was undoubtedly talented, yet he failed to find political solutions to the problems of the late Roman Republic.

Archaeologist Barry Cunliffe nominates ancient Roman leader Julius Caesar.

8/8. Pope John Paul II

Ann Widdicombe MP, famous for her opposition to women priests, nominates the late pontiff, who felt just as strongly on the matter. Malachi O'Doherty, author of 'I Was a Teenage Catholic', joins the debate.

1209George Bernard Shaw2007020620070529 (BBC7)
20160818 (BBC7)
20160819 (BBC7)

Dr Phil Hammond chooses the Nobel Prize-winning playwright, George Bernard Shaw.

4 Extra Debut. Dr Phil Hammond chooses the Nobel Prize-winning playwright, George Bernard Shaw. With Matthew Parris. From May 2007.

13Sir Alec Issigonis20070828 (BBC7)
20160915 (BBC7)
20160916 (BBC7)

Engineer Alex Moulton and the Earl of Snowdon talk about the life of Alec Issigonis.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

4/9. Engineer Alex Moulton and the Earl of Snowdon talk about the life of Alec Issigonis, the idiosyncratic designer of the Mini.

1303Rembrandt20070821 (BBC7)
20141016 (BBC7)
20141017 (BBC7)
20160908 (BBC7)
20160909 (BBC7)

Artist and sculptor Maggi Hambling nominates Rembrandt as her choice of a great life.

Artist and sculptor Maggi Hambling chooses the 17th-century Dutch painter Rembrandt. With Matthew Parris.

The biographical series in which a distinguished guest chooses someone who's inspired their life. Will their hero stand up to intensive scrutiny and merit the description of having led a great life? From 2002.

1305John Cage20070904 (BBC7)
20160922 (BBC7)
20160923 (BBC7)

Conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin talks about avant-garde composer John Cage.

4 Extra Debut. Conceptual artist Michael Craig-Martin chooses the American writer, composer and artist. With Matthew Parris. From September 2007.

1306Lord Denning20070911 (BBC7)
20160929 (BBC7)
20160930 (BBC7)

Blur drummer David Rowntree discusses the life of Lord Denning.

4 Extra Debut. Blur drummer David Rowntree chooses legal heavyweight, Lord Denning. With Joshua Rozenberg and Matthew Parris. From September 2007.

1307Brian Clough2007051520070918 (BBC7)
20161006 (BBC7)
20161007 (BBC7)

John Motson nominates former Nottingham Forest manager Brian Clough.

4 Extra Debut. Commentator John Motson chooses football manager Brian Clough. With Matthew Parris and Duncan Hamilton. From September 2007.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

7/9. Theatre director, actress and writer Yvonne Brewster nominates poet Claude McKay.

A leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, McKay gave a voice to the anger and growing confidence of African-Americans, yet he died in poverty and obscurity.

1308Elizabeth David2007052220070525
20070925 (BBC7)
20161013 (BBC7)
20161014 (BBC7)

Chef and novelist Prue Leith chooses cookery writer Elizabeth David.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

8/9. Prue Leith nominates Elizabeth David, arguably the greatest food writer of the 20th century. She is joined by biographer Artemis Cooper.

8/9. Archaeologist Barry Cunliffe nominates Julius Caesar. A brilliant orator and military tactician, Caesar was undoubtedly talented, yet he failed to find political solutions to the problems of the late Roman Republic.

8/9. Archaeologist Barry Cunliffe nominates Julius Caesar.

A brilliant orator and military tactician, Caesar was undoubtedly talented, yet he failed to find political solutions to the problems of the late Roman Republic.

1309George Washington2007052920070601
20071002 (BBC7)
20161020 (BBC7)
20161021 (BBC7)

British General Sir Michael Rose selects 'Father of the American Nation' George Washington

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

9/9. General Sir Michael Rose nominates George Washington for greatness. He is joined by Washington expert Frank Grizzard.

9/9. In a special edition from the Hay Festival, comedian and broadcaster Dr Phil Hammond nominates the playwright, critic and political activist George Bernard Shaw.

1402George Cruikshank20071218 (BBC7)
20161103 (BBC7)
20161104 (BBC7)

Quentin Blake nominates illustrator George Cruikshank.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

2/7. Illustrator Quentin Blake nominates George Cruikshank, who drew the original Fagin and Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist. Vic Gatrell outlines some of the darker sides to Cruikshank's life.

1403Alfred Russel Wallace20080101 (BBC7)
20161110 (BBC7)
20161111 (BBC7)

Travel writer Redmond O'Hanlon proposes the pioneering naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace.

4 Extra Debut. Travel writer Redmond O'Hanlon proposes the pioneering naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace. With Matthew Parris. From January 2008.

1404Howard Florey20080108 (BBC7)
20161117 (BBC7)
20161118 (BBC7)

Richard Sykes champions Sir Howard Florey, a forgotten man in the discovery of penicillin.

4 Extra Debut. Sir Richard Sykes champions Sir Howard Florey, a forgotten key figure in the story of penicillin. With Matthew Parris. From January 2008.

1406Katherine Mansfield2007091120070914
20080122 (BBC7)
20161124 (BBC7)
20161125 (BBC7)

Jacqueline Wilson chooses the writer Katherine Mansfield. With Angela Smith as witness.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

6/7. Children's author Jacqueline Wilson nominates short story writer Katherine Mansfield for greatness. She is joined by biographer Prof Angela Smith to assess the impact of Mansfield's brilliant but tragically short career.

6/9. Blur drummer David Rowntree discusses the life of Lord Denning, one of the great and controversial judges of the 20th century.

With Joshua Rozenberg, Daily Telegraph legal editor.

1407Hermann Buhl20080129 (BBC7)
20161201 (BBC7)
20161202 (BBC7)

Mountaineer Joe Simpson takes up the cause of the pioneering Austrian climber Hermann Buhl

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

7/7. Mountaineer Joe Simpson takes up the cause of a relatively unknown but pioneering Austrian climber. Hermann Buhl tackled some of the most dangerous climbs in the world and was revered among his contemporaries for his ability to push himself through the bleakest of conditions.

1501Peter Cushing20080401 (BBC7)
20161208 (BBC7)
20161209 (BBC7)

Mark Gatiss champions Peter Cushing, a quintessentially English star of stage and screen.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Actor and writer Mark Gatiss champions the life and work of one of his heroes of horror. Cushing found fame with the Hammer films of the seventies, but his career on stage, screen, radio and television stretched over forty years, from Laurel and Hardy's stooge, to Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars.

1502Charles Bukowski2007121820071221
20080408 (BBC7)
20161215 (BBC7)
20161216 (BBC7)

Writer and comedy star Rhona Cameron champions Charles Bukowski.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Writer and comedy star Rhona Cameron champions Charles Bukowski, citing the enormous influence his writing had on her adolescence.

2/7. Illustrator Quentin Blake nominates George Cruikshank, who drew the original Fagin and Artful Dodger in Oliver Twist. Vic Gatrell outlines some of the darker sides to Cruikshank's life.

1503Paavo Nurmi20080415 (BBC7)
20161222 (BBC7)
20161223 (BBC7)

Former athlete and television commentator Steve Cram nominates Paavo Nurmi.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Former athlete and television commentator Steve Cram nominates Paavo Nurmi, the 'Flying Finn'. Middle and long distance runner Nurmi won nine gold medals in 12 Olympic events and is often considered the greatest track and field athlete of all time.

1504Juan Manuel Fangio20080422 (BBC7)
20161229 (BBC7)
20161230 (BBC7)

Stirling Moss nominates the great racing driver Juan Manuel Fangio.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Stirling Moss nominates the great racing driver Juan Manuel Fangio, a quiet home-loving man who made the record books by winning five world titles.

1505Paul Robeson20080429 (BBC7)
20170105 (BBC7)
20170106 (BBC7)

Anna Ford nominates singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Anna Ford nominates singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson. From Shakespeare to Showboat, his success as a stage actor was matched by his popularity as a singer, until he fell foul of the House of Un-American Activities Committee.

1506Ian Curtis2008012220080506 (BBC7)
20170112 (BBC7)
20170113 (BBC7)

Poet Simon Armitage nominates Joy Division singer Ian Curtis.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Poet Simon Armitage nominates Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, who took his own life in 1980 at the age of 23. Curtis's fellow band member Peter Hook remembers his friend.

1507Edward Lear2008012920080201
20080513 (BBC7)
20170119 (BBC7)
20170120 (BBC7)

Nicholas Parsons nominates Edward Lear, now remembered best for his nonsense verse.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Nicholas Parsons nominates artist and writer Edward Lear, now remembered best for The Owl and the Pussycat, The Jumblies and other nonsense verse for children.

7/7. Mountaineer Joe Simpson takes up the cause of a relatively unknown but pioneering Austrian climber. Hermann Buhl tackled some of the most dangerous climbs in the world and was revered among his contemporaries for his ability to push himself through the bleakest of conditions.

1508Joyce Grenfell2008020520080520 (BBC7)
20170126 (BBC7)
20170127 (BBC7)

Arabella Weir nominates Joyce Grenfell. Biographer Janie Hampton assists.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Arabella Weir nominates Joyce Grenfell, whose comic monologues she listened to and loved as a child. Joyce's biographer and family friend Janie Hampton offers inside information on one of the greatest entertainers of the last century.

1603Robert Hooke20080819 (BBC7)
20170209 (BBC7)
20170210 (BBC7)

David Attenborough nominates the largely forgotten 17th-century inventor and illustrator.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

David Attenborough nominates the largely forgotten 17th century-inventor and illustrator. His beautiful drawings of microscopic animals first attracted Attenborough to Hooke, who also helped to design the dome of St Paul's and claimed to have arrived at some of Isaac Newton's groundbreaking laws before Newton himself. Biographer Lisa Jardine joins in the debate.

1604Alan Freed2008042220080425
20080826 (BBC7)
20170216 (BBC7)
20170217 (BBC7)

Bob Harris nominates Alan Freed, the first ever rock 'n' roll DJ.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Bob Harris nominates Alan Freed, the first ever rock 'n' roll DJ. A champion of black rhythm and blues, Freed's meteoric career was cut short when he faced allegations of commercial bribery, and he died a penniless alcoholic.

4/9. Stirling Moss nominates the great racing driver Juan Manuel Fangio, a quiet home-loving man who made the record books by winning five world titles.

1605Henry Vii2008042920080502
20080902 (BBC7)
20170223 (BBC7)
20170224 (BBC7)

Former chancellor George Osborne nominates Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Former Chancellor George Osborne nominates Henry VII, founder of the Tudor dynasty. By making the crown much less financially independent on the nobles, he claims that Henry played a key role in establishing the processes of modern government. Studio guest Dr Steven Gunn helps to assess whether Osborne is right.

5/9. Anna Ford nominates singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson. From Shakespeare to Showboat, his success as a stage actor was matched by his popularity as a singer, until he fell foul of the House of Un-American Activities Committee.

1607Field Marshal Bill Slim20080916 (BBC7)
20170309 (BBC7)
20170310 (BBC7)

General Mike Jackson nominates Field Marshal Bill Slim, leader of the WW2 Burma campaign.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

General Sir Mike Jackson, former Head of the British Army, nominates Field Marshal Bill Slim, leader of the Burma Campaign. Military historian Julian Thompson lends weight to the argument that Slim, less well known today than other Second World War Generals, was perhaps the greatest commander of the 20th century.

1608Lady Hester Stanhope20080923 (BBC7)
20170302 (BBC7)
20170303 (BBC7)

Deborah Meaden nominates the Georgian hostess, diplomat and spy Lady Hester Stanhope.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Georgian political hostess, traveller, diplomat and spy Lady Hester Stanhope is nominated by businesswoman and Dragon's Den investor Deborah Meaden. Stanhope's biographer Kirsten Ellis lends her expert knowledge to the discussion.

1701Luciano Pavarotti20081209 (BBC7)
20170323 (BBC7)
20170324 (BBC7)

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Luciano Pavarotti is nominated by the music promoter Harvey Goldsmith, the man behind the Pavarotti in the Park concert. The opera director John Copley and Anne Midgette of the Washington Post join the discussion.

Luciano Pavarotti is nominated by the music promoter Harvey Goldsmith.

1702Billy Marsh20081216 (BBC7)
20170330 (BBC7)
20170331 (BBC7)

Michael Grade and William G Stewart champion the life of theatrical agent Billy Marsh.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Michael Grade and William G Stewart champion the life of the theatrical agent Billy Marsh, the man who helped to turn Morecambe and Wise, Norman Wisdom and Bruce Forsyth into household names.

1703Beachcomber2008081920081223 (BBC7)
20170406 (BBC7)
20170407 (BBC7)

The Snowman author Raymond Briggs chooses JB Morton, aka Beachcomber.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Raymond Briggs celebrates Beachcomber, the newspaper columnist who inspired both Spike Milligan and Private Eye. Richard Ingrams offers details of the column's early life and the current Beachcomber reveals his own influences.

3/9. Robert Hooke

David Attenborough nominates the largely forgotten 17th-century inventor and illustrator. His beautiful drawings of microscopic animals first attracted Attenborough to Hooke, who also helped to design the dome of St Paul's and claimed to have arrived at some of Isaac Newton's groundbreaking laws before Newton himself. Biographer Lisa Jardine joins in the debate.

1705Bette Davis2008090220090106 (BBC7)
20170427 (BBC7)
20170428 (BBC7)

Tracy-Ann Oberman champions the life of one of the silver screen's most enduring icons.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Actress Tracy-Ann Oberman champions the life of Hollywood actress Bette Davis. Joining the discussion is Davis expert Dr Martin Shingler, who explores her complex character and achievements.

1708Lady Hester Stanhope2008092320080926
20170302 (BBC7)
20170303 (BBC7)

Georgian political hostess, traveller, diplomat and spy Lady Hester Stanhope is nominated by businesswoman and Dragon's Den investor Deborah Meaden.

Stanhope's biographer Kirsten Ellis lends her expert knowledge to the discussion.

Deborah Meaden nominates the Georgian hostess, diplomat and spy Lady Hester Stanhope.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris.

Georgian political hostess, traveller, diplomat and spy Lady Hester Stanhope is nominated by businesswoman and Dragon's Den investor Deborah Meaden. Stanhope's biographer Kirsten Ellis lends her expert knowledge to the discussion.

8/9. Georgian political hostess, traveller, diplomat and spy Lady Hester Stanhope is nominated by businesswoman and Dragon's Den investor Deborah Meaden. Stanhope's biographer Kirsten Ellis lends her expert knowledge to the discussion.

1708Margot Fonteyn20170511 (BBC7)

Horticulturalist Rachel De Thame champions her heroine, the ballerina Margot Fonteyn.

1709Robert Kennedy20170518 (BBC7)

Ken Livingstone discusses his hero, US politician Robert Kennedy.

1802Roy Jenkins20170706 (BBC7)

Journalist Polly Toynbee chooses one of the most noted of post-war politicians Roy Jenkins

Matthew Parris presents the biographical series in which his guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

Polly Toynbee, David Steel and Dick Taverne argue that Roy Jenkins, former home secretary, chancellor, president of the European Commission and founder member of the SDP, was one of the greatest politicians of the post-Second World War era.

1804Carl Gustav Jung2008123020170601 (BBC7)

Ruby Wax discusses the life and work of Carl Gustav Jung.

Matthew Parris presents the biographical series in which his guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

Ruby Wax discusses the life and work of Carl Gustav Jung, who has been called 'the father of analytical psychology'. Along with author and Jungian analyst Professor Andrew Samuels, Ruby discusses Jung's theories of personality and psychological types, and reveals how his work has affected her own life.

1805Frank Sinatra20090505 (BBC7)
20150712 (BBC7)
20151224 (BBC7)
20151225 (BBC7)
20161230 (BBC7)
20161231 (BBC7)

Broadcaster and DJ Colin Murray chooses Frank Sinatra.

Broadcaster Colin Murray chooses Francis Albert Sinatra in the biographical series in which Matthew Parris asks his guests to choose someone who's inspired their lives.

"Fiercely competitive", "aggressive", "utterly masculine" and "supremely talented". Just some of the words - Matthew Parris says - that might be used to describe one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century.

Colin calls Frank omnipresent. Enchanted by his songs he says: "It's not about the notes you hit for me, it's about the simplicity and the honesty. And for me he had it in bucket loads"

New York author and music critic Will Friedwald vividly describes the singer's life history, from his early years to the marriages and through his recording and screen career.

Featuring excerpts of many of Sinatra's greatest recordings.

Produced by Beth O'Dea

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2009.

"Fiercely competitive", "aggressive", "utterly masculine" and "supremely talented". Just some of the words - Matthew Paris says - that might be used to describe one of the greatest entertainers of the 20th century.

1806John Coltrane20170608 (BBC7)

Musician Andy Sheppard chooses influential saxophonist John Coltrane.

Matthew Parris presents the biographical series in which his guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

Musician Andy Sheppard chooses influential saxophonist John Coltrane, creator of the albums Giant Steps and A Love Supreme. Supporting Andy's choice is the editor of The Wire magazine, Tony Herrington.

1806Tony Hancock2009011320090116
20170504 (BBC7)

Poet Pam Ayres chooses the lad himself, Tony Hancock.

Pam Ayres discusses her admiration for Tony Hancock.

Series of biographical discussions with Matthew Parris

1807Fred Astaire20170615 (BBC7)

Dr Michael O'Donnell discusses celebrated singer, actor and choreographer Fred Astaire.

Matthew Parris presents the biographical series in which his guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

Physician, journalist and broadcaster Dr Michael O'Donnell discusses celebrated singer, actor and choreographer Fred Astaire. Joining him are Astaire's daugher, Ava Astaire McKenzie, and lifelong Astaire enthusiast and Oxford don Dr Kathleen Riley.

1808Giovanni Falcone20170622 (BBC7)

Journalist Misha Glenny remembers the life of anti-Mafia campaigner Giovanni Falcone.

Matthew Parris presents the biographical series in which his guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

Journalist Misha Glenny remembers the life of anti-Mafia campaigner Giovanni Falcone, whose work on the 1986 Maxi trial contributed to over 3,000 convictions. Falcone was blown up by the Mafia near Palermo airport in May 1992.

Matthew and Misha are joined by Diego Gambetta, who offers expert comment.

1906The A-z Of Dr Johnson2007091120170803 (BBC7)

Politician Boris Johnson chooses the creator of the English dictionary, Dr Samuel Johnson.

2002Joe Slovo2009081120090814
20170713 (BBC7)

Fforeign secretary David Miliband discusses the life of Joe Slovo, a leading member of the African National Congress and the first housing minister in Nelson Mandela's government.

Slovo's daughter, Gillian, joins in the discussion.

David Miliband discusses the life of Joe Slovo, a leading member of the ANC.

Matthew Parris presents the biographical series in which his guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

David Miliband discusses the life of Joe Slovo, a leading member of the African National Congress and the first housing minister in Nelson Mandela's government. Slovo's daughter, Gillian, joins in the discussion.

2003John Cornford2009081820090821
20170720 (BBC7)

George Galloway chooses British poet and political activist John Cornford, who died at the age of 21 fighting fascism in the Spanish Civil War.

Professor Stan Smith joins in the discussion.

George Galloway chooses British poet and political activist John Cornford.

Matthew Parris presents the biographical series in which his guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

George Galloway chooses British poet and political activist John Cornford, who died at the age of 21 fighting fascism in the Spanish Civil War. Professor Stan Smith joins in the discussion.

2005Sir Kyffin Williams2009090120090904

Matthew Parris presents the biographical series in which his guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

Rolf Harris discusses the life of the Welsh painter Sir Kyffin Williams.

Famous for his paintings inspired by the north Wales landscape, Williams never chose to be a painter; he was told by a doctor to take up art for his health when he was diagnosed with epilepsy.

Prof Derec Llwyd Morgan joins the discussion.

2101Henry V2009120820091211
20170831 (BBC7)

Sir Ranulph Fiennes discusses the life of Henry V and tries to separate fact from myth.

Matthew Parris presents the biographical series in which his guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes discusses the life of Henry V and tries to separate fact from myth, with the help of historian Juliet Barker.

Explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes discusses the life of Henry V.

2102Tennessee Williams2009121520091218
20170907 (BBC7)

American stand-up comedian Rich Hall discusses the life of playwright Tennessee Williams, whose work he first remembers seeing at a Kentucky drive-in cinema, rather than the theatre.

With their vivid portrayal of the American south, poetic language and dark themes, works such as Cat on A Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire were snapped up by Hollywood as well as changing the direction of American theatre.

Rich Hall is joined by Williams' friend and biographer Dotson Rader to talk about the man himself: the early unhappiness that shaped his creative life, the prejudice he encountered due to his homosexuality, and his later unpopularity and decline into drink and prescription drugs.

They discover a writer with a strong sense of humour, a devotion to his family and a desire to experiment with writing throughout his career.

Was Williams' life a wasted one?

Stand-up comedian Rich Hall discusses the life of playwright Tennessee Williams.

Matthew Parris presents the biographical series in which his guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

American stand-up comedian Rich Hall discusses the life of playwright Tennessee Williams, whose work he first remembers seeing at a Kentucky drive-in cinema, rather than the theatre. With their vivid portrayal of the American south, poetic language and dark themes, works such as Cat on A Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire were snapped up by Hollywood as well as changing the direction of American theatre.

Rich Hall is joined by Williams' friend and biographer Dotson Rader to talk about the man himself: the early unhappiness that shaped his creative life, the prejudice he encountered due to his homosexuality, and his later unpopularity and decline into drink and prescription drugs. They discover a writer with a strong sense of humour, a devotion to his family and a desire to experiment with writing throughout his career. Was Williams' life a wasted one?

2104Hannah Arendt2009122920100101
20170921 (BBC7)

Matthew Parris presents the biographical series in which his guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

Munira Mirza, the London Mayoral advisor on arts and culture, chooses the influential political philosopher Hannah Arendt.

She is regarded as a highly influential 20th-century political philosopher, although Arendt would have refuted the title 'philosopher' herself. Born into a secular German Jewish family, she grew up in what is now Hanover and Berlin. A student with Heidegger (with whom she had a tumultuous relationship; they divorced in 1929), Arendt survived being interrogated by the Gestapo and moved to Paris, where she lived for a number of years before immigrating to America in the 1940s, settling in New York.

Arendt was a lively part of an intellectual circle and held a number of academic posts until her death. Little known in the UK, Arendt is chosen by Munira Mirza, the London Mayoral advisor on arts and culture and a founding member of the Manifesto Club.

She is regarded as a highly influential 20th-century political philosopher, although Arendt would have refuted the title 'philosopher' herself.

Born into a secular German Jewish family, she grew up in what is now Hanover and Berlin.

A student with Heidegger (with whom she had a tumultuous relationship; they divorced in 1929), Arendt survived being interrogated by the Gestapo and moved to Paris, where she lived for a number of years before immigrating to America in the 1940s, settling in New York.

Arendt was a lively part of an intellectual circle and held a number of academic posts until her death.

Little known in the UK, Arendt is chosen by Munira Mirza, the London Mayoral advisor on arts and culture and a founding member of the Manifesto Club.

Munira Mirza discusses the life of the influential political philosopher Hannah Arendt.

Matthew Parris presents the biographical series in which his guests choose someone who has inspired their lives.

Munira Mirza, the London Mayoral advisor on arts and culture, chooses the influential political philosopher Hannah Arendt.

She is regarded as a highly influential 20th-century political philosopher, although Arendt would have refuted the title 'philosopher' herself. Born into a secular German Jewish family, she grew up in what is now Hanover and Berlin. A student with Heidegger (with whom she had a tumultuous relationship; they divorced in 1929), Arendt survived being interrogated by the Gestapo and moved to Paris, where she lived for a number of years before immigrating to America in the 1940s, settling in New York.

Arendt was a lively part of an intellectual circle and held a number of academic posts until her death. Little known in the UK, Arendt is chosen by Munira Mirza, the London Mayoral advisor on arts and culture and a founding member of the Manifesto Club.

2501Graham Greene20110802 (BBC7)
20160421 (BBC7)
20160422 (BBC7)

War reporter Tim Butcher chooses an exploration into the strange world of Graham Greene.

The Third Man, Brighton Rock, Travels With My Aunt - the books of Graham Greene all still have a definite ring. But the the man himself was an enigma. He worked both as a spy as well as a foreign correspondent, and wrote endlessly about shady characters and secret affairs. This programme opens with him talking about his love of playing Russian Roulette - it turns out that Graham Greene was easily bored.

Choosing Greene for Great Lives is Tim Butcher, 20 years a war reporter for the Daily Telegraph and more recently author of Blood River: A Journey to Africa's Broken Heart, a title that suggests the influence of Greeneland. Tim says that it's his depiction of seedy life that appeals.

The programme also features the voices of Beryl Bainbridge, Christopher Hampton and Auberon Waugh, along with a classic clip of Trevor Howard as Scobie in the Heart of the Matter from 1953.

Matthew Parris is unimpressed with Greene's treatment of his wife, Vivienne, and questions whether the image Greene created was really true. David Pearce, founding trustee of the International Graham Greene Festival offers a robust defence.

Future programmes in the series include editions on Shakespeare, Kirsty MacColl, and Antonio Carluccio on the sculptor Eduardo Paolozzi.

The producer is Miles Warde.

2607Gracie Allen20120117 (BBC7)
20140828 (BBC7)
20140829 (BBC7)

Actress Emma Kennedy chooses the life of the American comedienne Gracie Allen.

Matthew Parris is joined by the actress Emma Kennedy to explore the life of the American comedienne Gracie Allen. George Burns and Gracie Allen were a hugely successful stage act who went on to conquer the new media of radio and television. But, unusually for the time, it was Gracie who was getting all the laughs, whilst George played the straight man. For actress and comic Emma Kennedy, Gracie was a pioneering female comic who, with her energy, wit and "illogical logic", paved the way for the likes of Lucille Ball and Roseanne Barr. Professor Brian Ward provides the expert analysis.

2808George Orwell - Alan Johnson2012052220120918 (BBC7)
20150820 (BBC7)
20150821 (BBC7)

Alan Johnson tells Matthew Parris about the impact George Orwell had on his life.

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.

2908George Orwell - Alan Johnson2012091820120921
3006John Stuart Mill2013010820130111

Max Mosely nominates the philosopher and proponent of personal liberty, John Stuart Mill, as his great life. With presenter Matthew Parris and biographer Richard Reeves.

Max Mosely trained as a barrister and was an amateur racing driver before becoming involved in the professional sport, latterly as president of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile. The youngest son of Sir Oswald Mosley, former leader of the British Union of Fascists, and Diana Mitford, his family name made a career in politics impossible. His choice of Mill as a great life is a result of his recent experiences of suing the News of the World for invasion of privacy, and giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. He says that both sides of the debate used Mill's work on liberty to justify their arguments.

Until summer 2012 Richard Reeves was Nick Clegg's Director of Strategy, and before that, head of the think-tank 'Demos'. His biography, 'John Stuart Mill - Victorian Firebrand', depicts Mill as a passionate man of action: a philosopher, radical MP and reformer who profoundly shaped Victorian society and continues to illuminate our own.

Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery.

3008Nancy Mitford2013012220130125
3009 LASTWilliam Robinson2013012920130201

Gardener Carol Klein's great life is William Robinson, a hero of the wild garden.

Gardener Carol Klein's great life is a hero of the wild garden, William Robinson. Matthew Parris presents with expert help from Robinson's biographer Richard Bisgrove.

Producer...Mary Ward-Lowery.

3101George Bell2013040220130405
3102Galileo2013040920130412

Bobby Friction - DJ and radio presenter better known for his Bhangra music remixes - champions Galileo Galilei in this weeks Great Lives. Often known as the father of modern science, Galileo was held under house arrest for proposing that the earth revolved around the sun. The presenter is Matthew Parris, with contributions from Dr David Berman from Queen Mary, University of London.

Producer : Perminder Khatkar.

, charged with heresy for saying the earth revolved around the sun, is championed.

3103Kenny Everett2013041620130419

Chris Tarrant chooses one of the great pioneers of modern radio - a man born Maurice Cole in Liverpool in 1944, who became famous on television as Gizzard Puke, Cupid Stunt and Sid Snot. Kenny Everett's life was almost as bizarre as the characters he played, but it is for his work as a deejay that Chris Tarrant selects him. Tarrant was at Capital Radio for twenty years.

Kenny Everett began his career in pirate radio, from where he was sacked. He also worked for the BBC, from where he was sacked. He made one appearance on Radio 4's Just a Minute, famously talking about marbles. Other employees included Radio Luxembourg and Capital.

Presenter Matthew Parris reminisces about the Young Conservatives invitation to Kenny Everett to join them on stage in 1983 - his slogans included 'Let's Bomb Russia' and 'Let's kick Michael Foot's stick away' - while biographer James Hogg fills in some of the details of Everett's complicated personal life.

The producer is Miles Warde

Chris Tarrant chooses one of the great pioneers of modern radio - a man born Maurice Cole in Liverpool in 1944, who became famous on television as Gizzard Puke, Cupid Stunt and Sid Snot.

Kenny Everett's life was almost as bizarre as the characters he played, but it is for his work as a deejay that Chris Tarrant selects him. Tarrant was at Capital Radio for twenty years.

3104David Livingstone2013042320130426

Dr David Livingstone was the Victorian equivalent of an astronaut - a man who ventured into the interior of Africa to report on territory that was wholly unknown to Europeans. In this programme, the explorer Colonel John Blashford-Snell explains why he admires his predecessor. Matthew Parris chairs the discussion, assisted by Dr Sarah Worden of the National Museum of Scotland.

Livingstone went to Africa as a missionary but succeeded in making only one convert, who soon lapsed. Frustrated, he switched his focus to exploration, crossing southern Africa from east to west and back again. He discovered the Victoria Falls, but his attempts to reach the interior by going up the Zambezi were a disaster when he discovered that the rapids he had been warned about were impassable. On his recommendation, missionary families came out from England to settle in what is now Malawi but - as he should have anticipated - many of them died of disease.

Despite these failures, he was and is regarded as a hero. As a self-made man who put himself through university on his wages from working in a cotton mill, he embodied the Victorian can-do spirit. His map-making, natural history observations, facility with languages and sheer endurance in the face of overwhelming obstacles made him a formidable character. Above all, his legacy in helping to end the east African slave trade mean that he is still revered in Africa today.

3105Sir Arthur Conan Doyle2013043020130503

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 sportsman who helped bring skiing to the Alps, a campaigner against the Belgian atrocities in the Congo, and most startlingly, a convinced spiritualist who became embroiled in a public argument with Harry Houdini over whether it was possible to make contact with the dead.

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.

3201Ivor Novello2013080620130809
3202Fela Kuti20130813
3203Rabindranath Tagore20130820
3204Ava Gardner2013082720130830
3209 LASTAl Murray On Bernard Montgomery2013100120131004

"In defeat, unbeatable; in victory, unbearable" - so said Winston Churchill on this week's Great Live, Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery. Many would argue that he was Britain's greatest field commander since Wellington - arrogant, hard to like but undeniably successful - one of the most, perhaps the most, conspicuously successful British commander of the Second World War. He was a national celebrity. In this edition of Great Lives - Al Murray - comedian and TV personality best known for his character of 'The Pub Landlord' champions Monty - and Al starts off by showing presenter Matthew Parris his action figure doll of the man.

Producer : Perminder Khatkar.

Comedian Al Murray champions the life of Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.

3301Hank Williams2013121020131213
3302Allen Ginsberg2013121720131220

Michael Horovitz On Allen Ginsberg

Matthew Parris is joined by Michael Horovitz who nominates fellow poet and founder of the Beat generation Allen Ginsberg as his Great Life. Ginsberg's friend and biographer Barry Miles provides biographical detail of this colourful and controversial writer, who through his battle for free expression inspired American counter culture.

Producer: Melvin Rickarby.

3303Isabella Bird2013122420131227

Meg Rosoff On Isabella Bird

Novelist Meg Rosoff explores the life of the Victorian travel writer Isabella Bird.

At home in Edinburgh Isabella Bird was the very picture of the ailing Victorian spinster but the moment her tiny feet hit the gangway of a steamer or squeezed into the stirrups of a horse she was transformed. Taking a doctor's advice to travel for the sake of her health Isabella headed for Australia, Japan, Korea and Hawaii before finding her spiritual home amongst the most rotten scoundrels of America's West.

In 'Great Lives' the award-winning author of novels including 'How I Live Now' and 'The Bride's Farewell', Meg Rosoff explains why Isabella's transformation has inspired her books and her love of horses.

She's joined by David McClay from the National Library of Scotland who maintains an archive of Isabella's colourful correspondence from the farthest flung corners of the Earth.

3304Le Corbusier2013123120140103

Sir David Chipperfield On Le Corbusier

Pioneer of Modern architecture, Le Corbusier, chosen by award winning architect Sir David Chipperfield.

Le Corbusier aimed to build a better world through radical buildings and the controversial reshaping of whole cities. Flora Samuel, Professor of Architecture at the University of Sheffield, joins Matthew Parris to unpick the life of a man who considered himself a herioc figure, fighting battles to improve the world.

Presenter: Matthew Parris. Producer: Melvin Rickarby.

3305John Updike2014010720140110

David Baddiel On John Updike

His novels perfectly captured the shifting moral codes of middle America in the 1970s and 80s but do John Updike's novels still have something important to tell us today? The writer and comedian David Baddiel makes the case for Updike in conversation with Matthew Parris and the novelist and Updike expert, Justin Cartwright.

3306Dave Allen Chosen By Adil Ray2014011420140117

Comedian Dave Allen is chosen by Adil Ray, creator and star of Citizen Khan. He explains to Matthew Parris how the legendary Irish comic helped shape his own career.

Producer: Perminder Khatkar.

Comedian Dave Allen is chosen by Adil Ray, creator and star of Citizen Kahn. He explains to Matthew Parris how the legendary Irish comic helped shape his own career.

3307Mark Constantine On Kahlil Gibran2014012120140124

Snubbed and practically ignored by the literary establishment in the West, this week's Great Live is Kahlil Gibran author of 'The Prophet'. Regarded by millions as a world class poet his work, published in 1923, has never been out of print and next to the bible is the biggest selling book in America. Businessman Mark Constantine champions the poet and together with the actor Nadim Sawalha. Matthew Parris is the presenter.

Producer : Perminder Khatkar.

3308 LASTSara Cox On Lisa - Left Eye - Lopes2014012820140131

Sara Cox nominates Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes, a hip hop artist and rapper, the first on Great Lives. The presenter is Matthew Parris.

Producer: Perminder Khatkar.

Assistant Producer: Milly Chowles.

3309Ernest Hemingway2014020420140527 (BBC7)
20160707 (BBC7)
20160708 (BBC7)

Monty Python's Michael Palin chooses the American writer, Ernest Hemingway.

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.

3309 LASTErnest Hemingway Chosen By Michael Palin2014020420140527
20140527 (BBC7)
20160707 (BBC7)
20160708 (BBC7)

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.

Monty Python's Michael Palin chooses the American writer, Ernest Hemingway.

3401Jacqueline Du Pre2014040120140404

Evelyn Glennie On Jacqueline Du Pre

The English cellist Jacqueline Du Pre is championed by solo percussionist Evelyn Glennie.

Evelyn Glennie, solo percussionist talks about her admiration for the cellist Jacqueline Du Pre with presenter Matthew Parris.

Producer: Perminder Khatkar.

3402Sarah Vine On Dante2014040820140411

Sarah Vine chooses Dante, author of the Italian literary masterpiece The Divine Comedy.

"Whenever I have too much to drink, I bang on about Dante...." Sarah Vine makes a choice from the heart - the great Italian writer Dante Alighieri, father of the Italian language and author of the Divine Comedy. "I'm not an expert," she says, "mine is more of a romantic infatuation."

Joining the outspoken Daily Mail columnist - listed recently with her husband, Michael Gove, on a 'most wanted' dinner party guest list - is Claire Honess, professor of Italian studies at Leeds University. Together they piece together an extraordinary life. Includes extracts from Radio 4's current production of the Divine Comedy starring John Hurt.

Matthew Parris presents, the producer is Miles Warde.

3403Sir Mark Walport On Sir Hans Sloane2014041520140418

Sir Hans Sloane, founder of the British Museum, is championed by Sir Mark Walport.

Sir Mark Walport, the government's Chief Scientific Advisor champions the life of Sir Hans Sloane, founder of the British Museum. Along with expert Marjorie Caygill they tell Matthew Parris why they think Sloane is the mother and father of all collectors.

Producer : Perminder Khatkar.

3404Marcus Du Sautoy On Jorge Luis Borges20140422

Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy chooses the blind Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges for Great Lives. He is fascinated by the connection between the creator of 'The Library of Babel' and science - did Borges really understand notions of infinity and space ? Biographer Jason Wilson adds colourful detail to the life of a great writer whom he insists was just being impish when it came to the weighty matters that have excited more than one mathematician over the years. The programme includes beautiful recordings of Borges in conversation in 1971. Marcus du Sautoy is the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Understanding of Science. The presenter is Matthew Parris, and the producer is Miles Warde.

3405Deborah Moggach On Arnold Bennett2014042920140502

Biographical series presented by Matthew Parris.

Writer Deborah Moggach nominates the author Arnold Bennett whose work she thinks has been wrongly overlooked. Deborah thinks that the work of the Staffordshire writer Arnold Bennett has been forgotten, largely due to snobbery on the part of the Bloomsbury Set who dismissed it as being too popular. Moggach believes that because he was a working writer who earned his living writing both serious and light fiction, he was not taken seriously after his death in 1931 despite his books being hugely popular during his lifetime. Bennett wrote many novels from Anna of the Five Towns set in his native Potteries district of Staffordshire to The Old Wives Tale and The Grand Babylon Hotel. As a journalist, he also wrote self help and lifestyle articles for magazines from How to Bathe a Baby Part One to Do Rich Women Quarrel More Frequently Than poor? Gyles Brandreth has been a lifelong fan of the works of Arnold Bennett and believes he is one of the greatest writers of the 20th century who deserves to be rediscovered.

Producer: Maggie Ayre.

3406Isy Suttie On Jake Thackray2014050620140509

Jake Thackray hated being known as the north country Noel Coward, but at the height of his fame the description stuck. His songs are very British, but his influences were European - Georges Brassens and Jacques Brel.

Nominating Jake Thackray is Isy Suttie, Dobby from Peep Show and star of the A-Z of Mrs P.

The presenter is Matthew Parris and the producer Miles Warde.

more to come.

3407John Craven On Brunel2014051320140516

Countryfile presenter John Craven proposes Victorian Engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, as a great life. He's joined by engineering historian Julia Elton and presenter Matthew Parris

And where better to discuss Brunel's achievements than by the harbour in Bristol in the shadow of his magnificent steam ship the SS Great Britain. But should his creator of great machines himself be considered a great man or is finest achievement the engineering of his own reputation?

Recorded at the Food Connections Festival in Bristol.

3408Emma Kirkby On Henry Purcell2014052020140523

Soprano Emma Kirkby discusses the life of English composer Henry Purcell with Matthew Parris. Despite dying at the age of 36, Purcell was arguably the first composer to become a national figure, as shown by his funeral at Westminster Abbey. Living through turbulent times, and through the reign of three monarchs, Purcell had to cope with shifting Catholic and Protestant regimes while producing a steady output of religious music. But he also did some of his most memorable and enduring work for the commercial theatre. Few composers have set the English language to music so felicitously. After his death, Britain produced few world class composers for 200 years. To discuss his legacy, Emma and Matthew are joined by Purcell scholar Michael Burden

Producer: Jolyon Jenkins

3409 LASTMichael Palin On Ernest Hemingway2014052720140530

Michael Palin nominates Ernest Hemingway as his Great Life.

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

Producer :Perminder Khatkar.

3508 LASTMervyn King On Risto Ryti2015012720150130 (R4)

Mervyn King champions the life of former prime minister of Finland Risto Ryti.

Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England tells Matthew Parris why the life of the Prime Minister of Finland Risto Ryti was so remarkable.

They are also joined by expert and biographer Martti Turtola.

Producer: Perminder Khatkar.

3609P D James By Val Mcdermid2015060220150605 (R4)

Val McDermid believes crime writing is most definitely a suitable job for a woman. She believes women are good at observing the minutiae of life and incorporating them into clue development. Despite writing a book entitled 'An Unsuitable Job For A Woman' PD James evidently through the same. Val McDermid who knew and loved the writer who died last November, discusses her life with the help of James' friend, the literary critic Peter Kemp.

Producer: Maggie Ayre.

Crime writer Val McDermid discusses the life of PD James. With literary critic Peter Kemp.

4108 LASTChris Patten On Pope John Xxiii20170124

Chris Patten, Lord Patten of Barnes, nominates a great life who was born a peasant and became a Pope. Pope John XXIII did well at school but was no star. He wasn't a striking figure of a man and struggled to keep his weight under control. There was nothing about him that stood out. And his election to Pope took many by surprise. But he was the man who began to push the Roman Catholic church into the modern world.

Chris Patten is joined by Eamon Duffy, Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Cambridge. The presenter is Matthew Parris and the producer is Perminder Khatkar.

4209 LASTIain Lee On Andy Kaufman20170530

Cult legend Andy Kaufman chosen by Iain Lee as his great life.

There were so many hoaxes in Andy Kaufman's brief career that for years his fans believed that he wasn't really dead. Kaufman's best known as Latka Gravas in the American sitcom Taxi, and his life was undoubtedly weird. Performance artist, Elvis impersonator, wrestler - he's difficult to pin down. Nominator Iain Lee believes he was a genius, while Olly Double of the University of Kent school of arts reckons Kaufman didn't really care if his audience laughed or not. Presenter Matthew Parris draws his own conclusions about Kaufman's extraordinary life, later turned into a film starring Jim Carrey called Man on the Moon.
The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.

4301Maxine Peak On Ellen Wilkinson20170801

Maxine Peak nominates her working class hero the MP Ellen Wilkinson as her great life.

The actress Maxine Peake nominates her working class hero, Ellen Wilkinson, as a great life. Ellen is regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of British radical left politics. She joined the Communist party, met Lenin and Trotsky in Moscow and then went on to become one of the Labour Party's youngest people entering parliament in 1924.
For Maxine Peake, the tragedy is that Ellen Wilkinson is now virtually a forgotten figure despite her remarkable achievements. With help from historian Helen Antrobus from the People's History Museum in Manchester, they make the case for Ellen Wilkinson meriting the description of a great life.
The presenter is Matthew Parris and the producer is Perminder Khatkar.

The actress, Maxine Peak nominates her working class hero, Ellen Wilkinson as a great life. Ellen is regarded as one of the most important figures in the history of British radical left politics. She joined the Communist party, met Lenin and Trotsky in Moscow and then went on to become one of the Labour Party's youngest people entering parliament in 1924.
For Maxine Peak, the tragedy is that Ellen Wilkinson is now virtually a forgotten figure despite her remarkable achievements. With help from historian Helen Antrobus from the 'People's History Museum' in Manchester, they make the case for why Ellen Wilkinson merits the description of a great life.
The presenter is Matthew Parris and the producer is Perminder Khakar.

4302Stephen Fry On P G Wodehouse20170808

Stephen Fry nominates his hero, PG Wodehouse, who just simply cheers him up.

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.

4303Sathnam Sanghera On Alexander Gardner2017081520170818

Biographical series presented by Matthew Parris.

Author and Journalist Sathnam Sanghera nominates a Great Life; a man dismissed as a fantasist and a liar in his own lifetime. Alexander Gardner was a Scottish-American soldier, a traveller, an explorer and adventurer - a white man with a tartan turban, who ended up in India in a Maharaja's Sikh Army in the 19th Century, just before the British Raj took over. Possibly a plagiarist and touted as a scoundrel, yet Sathnam claims he's worthy of a bigger place in history. If just a tiny portion of what we think we know about him is true, he is a genuinely remarkable figure.

Joining Sathnam is our expert witness to Gardner's life, the historian John Keay.

The presenter is Matthew Parris, and the Producer is Perminder Khatkar.

Author and Journalist Sathnam Sanghera nominates a Great Life; a man dismissed as a fantasist and a liar in his own lifetime. Alexander Gardner was a Scottish-American soldier, a traveller, an explorer and adventurer - a white man with a tartan turban, who ended up in India in a Maharaja's Sikh Army in the 19th Century, just before the British Raj took over. Possibly a plagiarist and touted as a scoundrel, yet Sathnam claims he's worthy of a bigger place in history. If just a tiny portion of what we think we know about him is true, he is a genuinely remarkable figure.
Joining Sathnam is our expert witness to Gardner's life, the historian John Keay.
The presenter is Matthew Parris, and the Producer is Perminder Khatkar.

4304Don Mccullin On Norman Lewis20170822

Don McCullin chooses his old travel companion Norman Lewis for Great Lives.

In 1968 Norman Lewis wrote an article called Genocide in Brazil. The photographs that accompanied it were by Don McCullin.
Lewis later said that this one piece of journalism was the great achievement of his life. It led directly to the creation of Survival International and a change in the law relating to the treatment of indigenous people in Brazil.
Lewis is known as a brilliant writer - one of our best, said Graham Greene, 'not of any particular decade of our century'. He's best remembered for A Dragon Apparent and Naples '44.
Don McCullin didn't travel with Norman Lewis to Brazil, but they struck up an unexpected friendship. He was like my father, the great photographer says. And in Norman Lewis's later years they worked together in Venezuela, Papua New Guinea and elsewhere. But McCullin didn't read many of his books. "I struggled through Naples '44" he admits. Yet his admiration for the way Lewis opened his eyes to the world remains undimmed.
Recorded on location at McCullin's Somerset farmhouse with Norman Lewis's biographer Julian Evans.
Matthew Parris presents.

The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.

4305Tracy Chevalier On Mary Anning20170829

Novelist Tracy Chevalier chooses the fossil hunter Mary Anning as her great life.

Matthew Parris and his guest - novelist Tracy Chevalier - discuss the life of Mary Anning, the working class woman from Lyme Regis who discovered full dinosaur skeletons on Dorset's Jurassic Coast and sold them to collectors in the early 1800s. They are joined by Hugh Torrens, Emeritus Professor of History of Science and Technology at the University of Keele. Mary's remarkable finds came before Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and she believed them at first to be giant crocodiles, but as scientists began flocking to Lyme Regis to buy her specimens, she started to educate herself in geology, becoming an authority on fossils.

However, as with many of the subjects of Great Lives, she was never fully credited for her efforts and faded from public consciousness after her death.

Download the podcast for extra material

Producer: Maggie Ayre.

4306Helen Sharman On Elsie Widdowson20170905

British spacewoman Helen Sharman chooses scientist Elsie Widdowson as her great life.

How many people realise the impact Elsie Widdowson had on the way we view nutrition? She was a food scientist who devoted her life to improving the diets of adults and children in Britain and abroad.

Matthew Parris hears why Helen Sharman, the first Briton to go into space, thinks Widdowson deserves her nomination.

They are joined by Elsie's friend and biographer Margaret Ashwell, President for the Association for Nutrition.

You can download the podcast to hear an extended version of the broadcast programme

Producer: Maggie Ayre.

4307Nicholas Stern On Muhammad Ali20170912

Muhammad Ali is economist Nicholas Stern's great life as he tells Matthew Parris.

Nicholas Stern is IG Patel Professor of Economics and Government at the London School of Economics, among other positions, and former Chief Economist at the World Bank. He is also a massive boxing fan and chooses the life of Muhammad Ali to explore with Matthew Parris and sports journalist and boxing commentator Ronald McIntosh.

Not only does Stern admire Ali's prowess in the ring, but more so his fearless stance against the Vietnam War which cost him dearly both personally and professionally. Ali's humanitarian work in later life has also been a huge source of inspiration to him.

Producer: Maggie Ayre.

4308Andrea Catherwood On Constance Markievicz20170919

Constance Markievicz, Irish rebel countess and the first woman elected to Parliament.

Constance Markievicz led an amazing life - a leading figure during the Easter Rising of 1916, she was the first woman elected to Westminster though she never took her seat. Markievicz was born into a wealthy anglo-Irish family and gained her exotic surname from marriage to a Polish count. She was adventurous, flamboyant, committed to woman's rights, court-martialled and nearly shot.
Nominating her is Andrea Catherwood, ex-ITN correspondent who made her first documentary for Radio 4. Alongside her in the studio is Lindie Naughton, author of Markievicz - A Most Outrageous Rebel.

Matthew Parris presents, the producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.

4309Helena Morrissey On Rachael Heyhoe Flint.20170926

City boss Helena Morrissey champions the life of Rachael Heyhoe Flint as her great life.

City Boss Dame Helena Morrissey champions the life of Rachael Heyhoe Flint, the pioneer of women's cricket who was regarded as a ground breaker who ruffled feathers and shook up a male dominated sport.
Helena Morrissey who has also made it to the top of her career in a male dominated word of the City, is founder of the 30% Club, a campaign group whose aim is to get a minimum of 30% women on FTSE-100 boards. Now working as Head of Personal Investing with Legal and General Investment Management, Helena makes the case for why Heyhoe Flint is a great life. She is joined by Dr Raf Nicholson who teaches history at Queen Mary University of London and is a writer on the women's game.
The presenter is Matthew Parris and the producer is Perminder Khatkar.