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Great Lives

Podcast Great Lives
Podcast Great Lives

Great Lives


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  • Holly Walsh on BS Johnson
    BS Johnson was born in Hammersmith in 1933. A wartime evacuee, he never quite shook a sense of dislocation for the rest of his life. Holly's favourite book, she calls it the gateway drug to his work, is Christie Malry's Own Double-Entry. It's the tale of a disaffected accountant who applies the principles of double-entry book keeping to his own life; any perceived slight permits him to repay the same on somebody else. These stretch from minor acts of personal revenge to poisoning London's water and blowing up the House of Commons. "The things I find attractive about him are the things I'm a little bit scared of. His work is so raw - it's so different to how I feel." Holly Walsh Joining Holly and Matthew Parris is the novelist Jonathan Coe, author of The Rotter's Club and Like a Fiery Elephant, an award-winning biography of BS Johnson's life. The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde
  • Pat Nevin on Johan Cruyff
    Pat Nevin chooses Johan Cruyff who was part of the Dutch revolution of the 1970s. He burst onto the international stage at the 1974 World Cup with an incredible piece of skill against Sweden later dubbed the 'Cruyff turn'. Cruyff went on to play for Barcelona before retiring young only to be forced to return after some poor business investments wiped out his fortune. He played in the States before returning to coach at his beloved Ajax and Barcelona where he amassed more trophies, steadfastly sticking to his brand of 'total football' and changing how the game was played. Pat Nevin remembers the gasp of the crowd who witnessed the 'Cruyff turn', and still admires how this thin, intelligent footballer used speed and guile to outwit opponents. But the former Chelsea and Everton great says that it's Cruyff's imprint on the way that football is now played that impresses him most, an influence, Pat says, that can be seen at the top of the Premier League table today with Pep Guardiola's Manchester City playing a version of Dutch 'total football'. As Pep himself said about his former Barcelona coach, "Johan Cruyff painted the chapel, and Barcelona coaches since merely restore or improve it." The Dutch journalist and author of 'Johan Cruyff: Always on the Attack' Auke Kok, sheds light on Johan's childhood, his early years as an Ajax player, and how Cruyff's stubborn attitude was both a strength and a weakness throughout his life. Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Toby Field Other guests in the new series include the UK government vaccine taskforce head, Kate Bingham; chef Romy Gill; and BAFTA winner Holly Walsh who has picked the cult sixties writer, BS Johnson.
  • Judy Garland
    Susie Boyt picks Judy Garland, the child star who became one of the most famous entertainers of the twentieth century. June 2022 will be the centenary of her birth. "All people ever said to me was, ‘You have got to toughen up,'" Susie told us. "You cannot go round nursing these wild cascades of feelings, or you’re never going to have a happy life. Then one day my mother took me to see The Wizard of Oz. It was the first film I ever saw at the cinema, and when I heard Dorothy singing Over the Rainbow, I thought, here is someone whose feelings seem to run as high as my own and she’s not hiding it, she’s not embarrassed by it, she’s not ashamed. She was leading with her feelings as though they were the best thing life contains." Joining Susie Boyt is John Fricke, leading Judy Garland expert who put her ability to thrill her audiences far ahead of the many tabloid accounts of her life. The presenter is Matthew Parris, the producer in Bristol is Miles Warde
  • Joan Rhodes, strongest woman in the world
    Joan Rhodes picked by Anna Maxwell Martin, star of Line of Duty and Motherland. Her choice is a lovely surprise, a strongwoman who could rip up phone books and bend nails. There's archive of her holding up 14 stone cricket commentator Brian 'Johnners' Johnstone in 1949 as well as the voice of the woman who knew her well - Triona Holden, author of An Iron Girl in a Velvet Glove. Abandoned by both her parents as a child, Joan Rhodes is an inspiring character who utterly merits her selection here. Anna Maxwell Martin is the double BAFTA winning actress who has starred in Bleak House, Poppy Shakespeare and Motherland. The presenter is Matthew Parris and the producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.
  • Rob Newman on Franklin D Roosevelt
    Comedian and writer Rob Newman is a long-time fan of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who "saved the United States, just in time for the United States to save the world". When FDR came into office in 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, unemployment stood at more than 25% and drought in the Dust Bowl had decimated American agriculture across the Great Plains. While known for his folksy charm, Roosevelt was a shrewd and determined politician, who transformed federal government, the US financial system and the relationship between the American people and their president forever. His raft of early interventions, known as the New Deal, have become the benchmark for US presidents' first 100 days in office ever since. As 'Forester in Chief', FDR's administration initiated mass tree planting and soil conservation - all while providing employment for 3 million young men. Rob talks to Matthew Parris about how FDR's radical and ambitious environmentalism continues to inspire him, and how this man defied his sheltered upper class upbringing to reach out to working Americans and address their struggles directly. They are joined by Professor David B. Woolner, Senior Fellow and Resident Historian of the Roosevelt Institute and author of The Last 100 Days: FDR at War and at Peace, to discuss FDR's personal triumphs, his hidden struggles and his international legacy. Could or should he have predicted the divided Europe that followed hot on the heels of a hard-fought peace? With thanks to the archivists at the Franklin D Roosevelt Presidential Library. Presented by Matthew Parris. Produced by Sarah Goodman for BBC Audio Bristol.

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