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Last Word
Listen to the latest editionFriday   16:00-16:30
Sunday 20:30-21:00 (rpt)

Radio 4's weekly obituaries programme
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We welcome your comments and suggestions contact us
This week
Friday 20th April 2007
(Rpt) Sunday 22nd April
Matthew Bannister
Matthew Bannister tells the life stories of people who have died recently. This week: Dick Vosburgh, Joan Wyndham, Paul Leventhal and Neville Duke.
Paul Leventhal
Educator, journalist and nonproliferation expert who has died aged 69.

Paul Leventhal started his career as an investigative newspaper journalist. But a desire to see government from the inside took him to Washington where he ended up working for a Senate subcommittee on how to re-organise the American Atomic Energy Commission. It was work which changed his life. He was passionate about the dangers of nuclear proliferation and devoted the rest of his career to working against it. He established and ran the Nuclear Control Institute, travelled the world to lecture on the subject and was in demand as an adviser to governments.

Long before the events of September 11th 2001, Leventhal warned of the dangers of terrorists gaining access to nuclear materials.

Matthew Bannister talks to his friends and colleagues at the Nuclear Control Institute, Eldon Griffiths and Richard Wegman. 

Paul Leventhal was born February 12th 1938. He died April 10th 2007.

Richard Kennedy Vosburgh,
Comedy writer and lyricist who has died aged77.

Born in Elizabeth New Jersey, Dick persuaded his father to send him to the UK to study at RADA in 1948, where he won the comedy acting prize. Whilst he was a student he was already contributing sketches to West End reviews and he went on to work with many of the great names of British comedy – from Tommy Cooper and Frankie Howerd to the Monty Python team and the Two Ronnies.

Dick Vosburgh’s love for Broadway musicals and classic American films resulted in many an accurate parody, culminating in a Broadway show. A Day In Hollywood, A Night In the Ukraine was written with the composer Frank Lazarus, and combined a revue satirising the movie industry with a pastiche of the Marx brothers.

Matthew Bannister talks to Ronnie Corbett and to Barry Cryer – who knew Dick Vosburgh for forty years and was one of his earliest writing partners. 

Richard Kennedy Vosburgh was born August 27th 1929. He died London April 18th 2007.
Joan Wyndham
Writer who has died aged 85.

Joan Wyndham had an affair with Lucien Freud, was propositioned by Dylan Thomas (who she recalled smothered her with beery kisses) and went to parties with Quentin Crisp. The bohemian Joan was born into an eccentric upper class family. She came to public prominence late in her life on the publication of diaries she had kept during the second world war. Her charming, irrepressible descriptions of life as a young art student in London as the bombs dropped made her something of a literary celebrity. One critic called her “a latter day Samuel Pepys in camiknickers”. Joan describes a round of parties, love affairs and eventually the much desired loss of her virginity.

After the war she opened Oxford’s first espresso bar, ran a hippy restaurant in London’s Portobello Road and cooked for the actors at the Royal Court Theatre. She became a passionate - if not always well informed - fan of Chelsea football club and in latter years eagerly followed their progress on satellite television.

Joan’s home was a bohemian refuge for actors, artists and models. In 1957 she divorced her first husband and married her Russian lodger Shura Shivarg. The couple bought a scruffy Georgian house in London where there were always parties, cats and lodgers.

Matthew Bannister talks to two of her lodgers Neil Norman and Simon Shaw.

Joan Wyndham was born October 11th 1921. She died April 8th 2007.
Neville Duke DSO, OBE, DFC and two bars.
Squadron Leader and test pilot who has died aged 85.

Neville Duke was a wartime fighter ace who moved into the jet engine age and broken the world air speed record. He was awarded a DSO and three DFCs for his courage in wartime dogfights in the skies above North Africa and Italy. He shot down an astonishing 27 German planes. After the war he took on the perilous job of testing experimental aircraft for the Hawker company. His record breaking flight came in the Coronation year of 1953 at a time when Britain was briefly ahead of the Americans in the development of jet planes. It made him even more famous with a string of children’s books based on his exploits and an appearance in the Eagle comic’s “Heroes of Today” column.

Matthew Bannister talks to Norman Franks who edited Neville Duke’s wartime diaries, read by Nick Rowe.

Neville Duke was born January 11th 1922. He died April 7th 2007.

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Previous programmes

13th April 2007
Kurt Vonnegut, Colin Graham, Jagjit Singh Chauhan, Terry Hall, and Paul Lauterbur.

6th April 2007
Franco Cosimo Panini, Sir Thomas Hetherington, Tony Scott, Felix Levitan and Michael Dibdin.

30th March 2007
Alexander King, Mao Anqing, David Mendel and John Backus.

23rd March 2007
Beryl Corner, Chris Lightfoot, The Mighty Terror, Sir Arthur Marshall and Freddy Francis.

16th March 2007
Captain Wiliam Anderson, Professor Neville Butler, Russell Churney, Baron Bernd Freytag Von Loringhoven and Jack Gaster.

9th March 2007
Ernest Gallo, Lieutenant Colonel Digby Willoughby, Jean Baudrillard, Cecil Gysin, Sir John Smith.

2nd March 2007
Lord Forte, Arthur M Schlesinger and Earl Jellicoe.

23rd February 2007
Maurice Papon, Peter Ellenshaw, Hugo Moser, Ray Evans and Gary Frisch.

16th February 2007
Elisabeth Rivers-Bulkeley, Harry Webster, Cyril Demarne, Sir Ian McGregor and Christopher Helm.

9th February 2007
Adelaide Tambo, Frankie Laine, Sir Victor Le Fanu, Gian Carlo Menotti and Hans Wegner.

2nd February 2007
Paul Channon, Ruth Crisp, Glen Tetley, Mary Low and Professor Roland Levinsky.

26th January 2007
Abbe Pierre, Gracie Cole, Sybil Elgar, Larry Stewart and Robert Phoenix.

19th January 2007
Rev. Bruce Kenrick, Vincent Sardi Jnr, Antonella Marchioness of Lothian, Alice Coltrane and Chalkie.

12th January 2007
Carlo Ponti, Richard Boston, Pierre Delanoe, David Ervine and Magnus Magnusson.

5th January 2007
Teddy Kollek, Sydney Wooderson, John Heath-Stubbs, Phillippa Pearce and Scobie Breasley.

29th December 2006
Maurice W Graham, Major Roy Farran, Naushad Ali, Merlyn Rees, Hugh Thompson and Birgit Nilsson.

22nd December 2006
Joseph Barbera, John Rae, Desmond Briscoe, John Hamilton and Elizabeth Bolden.

15th December 2006
Frank Johnson, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Peter Brayham, Augusto Pinochet and Ahmet Ertegun.

8th December 2006
Peter Roberts, Ed Bradley, Edward Grismond Beaumont Davies-Scourfield, Lionel Bryer and Mario Merola.

1st December 2006
Betty Comden, Edward Ford, Willie Pep and Alan Freeman.

24th November 2006
Nick Clarke, Peter Fryer, Robert Altman and Emanuel Hurwitz.

17th November 2006
Milton Friedman, Ursula Moray Williams, Fernec Puskas and Desert Orchid.

10th November 2006
Marcus Wolf, Samuel Holloway Bowers Jnr, Allister Bowtell, Bulent Ecevit and Susan Billington.

3rd November 2006
President PW Botha, Nigel Kneale, Olivia Breitha and Peter Barkworth.

27th October 2006
Eric Newby, Jeff Getty, Paul Walters, Valerie Finnis and Anna Russell.

20th October 2006
Marc Hodler, Lucilla Andrews, Hugh Merewether and Bluma Feld.

13th October 2006
Anna Politkovskaya, Beth Levine, Professor Adam Curle, Paul Hunter and Professor Charles Rees.

6th October 2006
Rosamond Carr, Henri Jayer, Joel Blamey and Tom Bell

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