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Great Lives

Podcast Great Lives
Podcast Great Lives

Great Lives


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  • Astrid Lindgren, creator of Pippi Longstocking
    The best-selling author of How to Train Your Dragon, Cressida Cowell, explains her love for the Swedish author, Astrid Lindgren. Born in 1907, Lindgren invented the Pippi Longstocking stories to tell to her children during the war years, only writing them down for a publisher years later. Following the immense success of Pippi, Astrid Lindgren went on to write Emil of Lonneberga, Children of Noisy Village and the fantasy novels Mio, my son; Ronia the Robber's Daughter; and The Brother's Lionheart. But it was Pippi who brought her fame and fortune. She was a particular hit in post-war Germany, where it is claimed the stories helped de-nazify the Hitler youth. In the 70s and 80s Lindgren began campaigning on child, environmental and animal rights, influencing Swedish government policy and becoming known as the 'Grandmother of all Sweden'. She is still very much adored there today. Cressida Cowell is a recent children's laureate. Also joining the discussion is Johan Palmberg, Lindgren's great grandson, who recalls. "She had this understanding of what a child might be interested in ... she would be the first one to climb the trees and have the children follow her up" Produced in Bristol by Ellie Richold Image courtesy of Jacob Forsell
  • Adjoa Andoh on Zora Neale Hurston
    Actor Adjoa Andoh has a list of TV, theatre and film credits as long as your arm. She's best known worldwide as Bridgerton's Lady Danbury, and is due to direct - and star in the title role - in a new production of Richard III. Her great life is the 20th century American writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston, author of "Their Eyes Were Watching God". An iconic figure in the literature of the jazz age, her name was all but forgotten after her death in 1960, before being pulled back into public consciousness in the US by "The Color Purple" author Alice Walker, who famously wrote: "A people do not throw their geniuses away". With the help of fellow enthusiast Dr Janine Bradbury, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Writing and Culture at the University of York, Adjoa makes the case that we should all know more about Zora, a trailblazer who - on top of her writing career - researched zombies in the Caribbean and helped collect the stories of slavery's last survivors. Presenter: Matthew Parris Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton
  • Comedian Chris McCausland on Kurt Cobain
    ‘For me, it’s all about his authenticity’. Chris McCausland Kurt Cobain, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of the band Nirvana became the voice of a generation and is to this day considered one of the most influential musicians in the history of alternative rock. His angst ridden, often politically driven lyrics challenged the conventions of the day and resonated with youth audiences around the world. He championed the underdog and stood up for all those who had ever felt excluded from the mainstream. Kurt’s message resonated with comedian, actor and writer Chris McCausland, but so did his music. With its raw energy and Kurt’s ‘take me as I am’ performances, Chris found a rock band that delivered the authenticity he’d been searching for. Accompanied from New York by author, journalist and music specialist Laura Barton, Chris discusses the Great Life of Kurt Cobain, his music, his message, his sense of humour and why it’s never too late to jump in a mosh pit. Presented by Matthew Parris Produced by Nicola Humphries
  • Roger Deakin, wild swimmer and author of Waterlogged
    Matthew Parris travels along the Thames to meet Nick Hayes - illustrator and author of The Book of Trespass - to discuss the life of Roger Deakin. They also enjoy a naked swim. Joining them, in his pants, is Patrick Barkham. His new biography of Roger Deakin is published this year. The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.
  • Minette Batters on Henry Plumb
    "I was born an Englishman but I'll die a European." Those are the words of Henry Plumb, Lord Plumb, a farmer who was President of the National Farmers Union in the 1970s and who became the first British person to be elected President of the European Parliament. Championing his life is the farmer and current President of the National Farmers Union, Minette Batters. She says that Henry supported her from the outset and that he would offer advice and support wherever it was needed. Minette is joined by Richard Inglewood, Lord Inglewood, who knew Lord Plumb well. They explore Lord Plumb's early life as a farmer in Coleshill, his views on membership of the European Union, and his electoral success as a Member and then President of the European Parliament, which included such perks as involvement in the European Song Contest. Matthew Parris asks Minette about the challenges of balancing her work with the day-to-day demands of farming and what impact Lord Plumb made on British life. Produced in Bristol by Toby Field. Image credit: John Cottle/NFU Correction: Henry Plumb's opponent in the election to become President of the European Parliament in 1987 was Enrique Barón Crespo and not Egon Klepsch.

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