Andi Oliver on Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison
When Andi Oliver first read Toni Morrison's 'The Bluest Eye' she felt as though someone climbed inside her head. Morrison's books saved her life - both emotionally and cerebrally.
The author, editor and college professor Toni Morrison chronicled the lives of African-Americans in novels such as 'Beloved', 'Sula' and 'Song of Solomon'. She once said that what drove her to write was "the silence of so many stories untold and unexamined". Born in Ohio, she was granddaughter to a slave, and her work often drew on the legacies of slavery, how it's carried down the generations.
Awarded both the Pulitzer and the Nobel Prize for Literature, her work was internationally acclaimed.
Joining Matthew Parris and Andi Oliver is Morrison's close friend Fran Lebowitz, and Howard University professor Dana Williams.
Produced by Eliza Lomas in Bristol.
Kurt Vonnegut and Josie Long
"I am a German American, a pure one, dating back to when German Americans were still marrying each other." Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922, but the most important event in his life happened in Dresden in 1945. He was a POW and underground in a meat locker during the firebombing. When he emerged he found the city totally destroyed. It took him another two decades to work out how to write his book, Slaughterhouse-Five.
Nominating Vonnegut is the comedian Josie Long, who says that finding a writer you love is like finding a friend. Because no expert was available for this recording, Kurt Vonnegut will be taking on this role himself. Kurt died in April 2007.
The presenter is Matthew Parris, the producer in Bristol Miles Warde.
Charlie Parker nominated by Ken Clarke
From Kansas City to New York, young Charlie Parker conquered the world of jazz.. He was famous during his life, and even more famous after he died aged 34. He's nominated here by former health minister, home secretary and chancellor of the exchequer, Kenneth Clarke. Together with Richard Williams and Val Wilmer, Ken recounts what made Bird great, and why he died so very young.
"If you look at the street scenes of Harlem in 1940, it was a squalid place. Club life in New York was probably a smart escape." Ken Clarke
The programme also includes clips by Dizzy Gillespie and Annie Ross. and music such as Koko and Now's the Time.
The presenter is Matthew Parris, and the producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.
Bill Bailey on his hero Alfred Russel Wallace
Bill Bailey has not just travelled in naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace's footsteps, he's crazy about him too. "I love him, I really do." Wallace is best known for what used to be known as the Wallace-Darwin theory of evolution. When he died in 1913, the New York Times called him the last of the 'giants belonging to that wonderful group of intellectuals ... whose daring investigations revolutionised and evolutionised the thought of the century."
Born in 1823, Wallace was a collector, a writer, a keen conservationist, and Bill has been to Borneo to see Wallace's famous flying frog.
With Sandy Knapp of the Natural History Museum, and presented by Matthew Parris.
The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.
Novelist Enid Blyton
Janice Turner recently wrote a sweet, sensitive article about packing up the contents of her parent’s house. “The experience was almost unbearable,” she began. Among the items passed down from the attic, “my entire childhood,” were a heavy sledge, Twinkle and Jackie annuals, “and a heavy trunk of 60 Enid Blytons.”
60 Enid Blytons - imagine that!
Janice Turner aka @victoriapeckham and winner of press interviewer of the year, is nominating Enid Blyton in a programme filled scandal, racism and lovely archive. Blyton was rejected in 2019 from a commemorative coin because of the controversy that continues to swirl around her work .... which include The Famous Five, the Secret Seven, and 24 books about Noddy.
The programme includes the biographer Nadia Cohen, the presenter Matthew Parris, and the producer Miles Warde.