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Great Lives

Podcast Great Lives
Podcast Great Lives

Great Lives


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  • Roma Agrawal on Mrinalini Sarabhai
    Mrinalini Sarabhai was an Indian classical dancer specialising in Bharatanatyam and becoming the first woman to perform Kathakali. She was very successful and performed around the world, with one reviewer in Paris calling her the 'Hindu atomic bomb'. She married prominent scientist and industrialist Vikram Sarabhai and together they would rub shoulders with ambassadors and Presidents. Men would see her dance and fall in love with her. She performed for The Queen in India. Later on, she used dance as a means of addressing social issues such as the 'dowry deaths' where brides were being set-alight and killed, and as a result of her work the governmental order the first ever inquiry into the issue. The engineer and author Roma Agrawal is best-known for her work on The Shard in London. She trained in Indian classical dance and for her Mrinalini provides a continuous thread back to her own Indian heritage in Mumbai. She's joined by Indian classical dancer Santosh Nair, with contributions from Mrinalini's daughter Mallika Sarabhai. Presenter: Matthew Parris Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Toby Field.
  • Lady Hale on Lady Rhondda
    Judge and former President of the Supreme Court, Lady Hale, chooses to nominate the suffragette, businesswoman, and founder of Time and Tide magazine, Margaret Haig Thomas, also known as Lady Rhondda. Born in 1883, Lady Rhondda was brought up an only child, in South Wales, by her feminist parents. She survived the sinking of the Lusitania and sat on the board of 33 companies, becoming, in 1926, the first and to-date only female president of the Institute of Directors. In 1927, the New York Tribune called her ‘the foremost woman of business in the British Empire’. She was also one of the most prominent British feminists of the inter-war years, marching with the Pankhursts and setting fire to a letterbox, for which she was briefly sent to Usk prison. Lady Rhondda was also the founder and editor of the pioneering, hugely influential weekly paper Time and Tide, which featured women’s perspectives and essays by literary greats from Orwell to Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf. The Former President of the Supreme Court, Brenda Hale, believes Lady Rhondda's most important lesson is "that there are always new battles to be fought...You must never give up. You must always go on." With expert insight from Angela V. John, Honorary Professor of History. Produced by Ellie Richold for BBC Audio in Bristol
  • William Lever, Lord Leverhulme, founder of Unilever
    William Lever was a grocer's son who went on to make a fortune selling soap. Lifebuoy, Lux ... and eventually Unilever are just some of his creations. Picking him for Great Lives is Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland. Joining him is Adam Macqueen, author of The King of Sunlight: How William Lever Cleaned up the The World. The presenter is Matthew Parris, the producer for BBC audio in Bristol is Miles Warde.
  • Noor-Un-Nissa Inayat Khan
    Noor-Un-Nissa Inayat Khan was an Indian muslim princess who became an under-cover agent for the ‘SOE’ – Churchill’s Special Operational Executive. She’s one of only a handful of women in the second world war awarded The George Cross, the highest civilian decoration in the UK. Noor's story will take us from Moscow to London, then Paris. There will be Sufism interwoven with Indian classical music and tales of sultans and maharajas. Her life championed by actor, writer and director Priyanga Burford, known for roles in ‘Innocent’ and ‘Silent Witness’ and the comedy series ‘The Thick of It’. She’s also had a brush with espionage herself, appearing as a scientist in the James Bond blockbuster ‘No Time to Die’. Having discovered Noor whilst searching for inspiration for her own writing, Priyanga became fascinated by a woman who defied expectations and demonstrated immense courage and bravery. Discussion features guest expert Sufiya Ahmed, author of 'My Story: Noor-Un-Nissa Inayat Khan'. Presented by Matthew Parris Produced by Nicola Humphries
  • Jeanne Baret, first woman to sail round the globe
    It all began with a small portrait in the Greenwich museum - of a sexless looking character in wide stripey trousers. Actor Nina Sosanya says she was immediately intrigued. Who was this? Why was she here? And did she really sail round the world dressed as a man? She discovered that Jeanne Baret was a poor but ingenious French woman who joined Louis Antoine de Bougainville's circumnavigation in 1763. She was dressed as a man because women were not allowed on board. But this was only the beginning of a crazy, often terrifying ordeal. Joining Nina Sosanya is Glynis Ridley, author of the Discovery of Jeanne Baret. Together they piece together this adventurer's life, from her birth in rural France to her passage round the globe, abandoned on Mauritius and getting back home seven years after everyone else. Nina Sosanya has starred in Staged, Killing Eve and W1A, often playing extremely likable characters who keep their head while everyone else goes down in flames. The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde

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