Pioneer girl Laura Ingalls Wilder nominated by broadcaster Samira Ahmed
In the summer of 2018 the name of Laura Ingalls Wilder was erased from a children's literary medal set up in her honour six decades ago. Readers of the Little House on the Prairie series of books were widely perplexed, but the original American pioneer girl now finds herself at the centre of the culture wars in the US.
Nominating her is the broadcaster and superfan Samira Ahmed, who has been to Rocky Ridge Farm, now an historic museum in Missouri and Laura Ingalls Wilder's home. Joining Samira in studio is the novelist Tracy Chevalier. president of the Laura Ingalls Wilder club at the age of eight. At the centre of the controversy - the depiction in these books of native Americans. “Her works reflect dated cultural attitudes toward indigenous people and people of colour that contradict modern acceptance, celebration, and understanding of diverse communities,” was the judgment of the ALSC.
This programme also includes Laura Ingalls Wilder's biographer, Pamela Hill; plus the Commanche writer Paul Chaat Smith in an extract from The Invention of the USA.
"I feel worried," says Samira Ahmed, "that we've lost the ability to have nuance. I cannot read these books without feeling aspects of racism, but why shouldn't we be able to read them and still see the beauty in them."
The presenter is Matthew Parris and the producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.
Future programmes include Matt Lucas on Freddie Mercury, and Mark Steel on Charlie Chaplin on Christmas Day.
Christina Lamb on Benazir Bhutto
Benazir Bhutto made history when, aged 35, she became the first democratically elected female Prime Minister of a Muslim majority country. Her family are one of world’s most famous political dynasties, but also one blighted by tragedy – murder, feud and assassinations.
Bhutto has been nominated by Christina Lamb, author and chief foreign correspondent with the Sunday Times. Bhutto was her friend and a huge influence on her life. She also expelled Christina Lamb from Pakistan.
Christina has a picture of Benazir Bhutto on her desk attending the rally in Pakistan before she was killed by a suicide bomber on the 27th December 2007. Christina was on a bus with her during a previous assassination attempt, and she recounts the horror of that day.
Also joining her in the studio is Huma Yusuf, a journalist and columnist with Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper and a Global Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Centre.
The presenter is Matthew Parris and the producer in Bristol is Perminder Khatkar.
Helen Glover on Alison Hargreaves
The Olympic rower Helen Glover is Matthew Parris' guest this week, choosing the life of the mountaineer Alison Hargreaves to discuss with the help of her biographer Ed Douglas. Alison Hargreaves' short life was defined by her love of the mountains. She became interested in climbing as a teenager and devoted her life to pursuing ever greater challenges. She was the first woman to climb Mount Everest without oxygen and unsupported before losing her life on the infamous K2 mountain in Pakistan in 1995.
Producer: Maggie Ayre.
Mark Carwardine on Douglas Adams
"Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, this is an interesting world I find myself in - fits me rather neatly, don't you think?"
Douglas Noel Adams wasn't even fifty when he died in 2001, but his imagination had already roamed far. He created The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Meaning of Liff and several episodes of Doctor Who, plus the Dirk Gently character and Last Chance to See.
Nominating him is his co-writer on Last Chance to See, the zoologist Mark Carwardine. Mark's role, Adams said later, was to be the one who knew what he was talking about. "My role was to be an extremely ignorant non-zoologist to whom everything that happened would come as a complete surprise."
Joining Mark Carwardine and Matthew Parris in the bar where this was recorded is Douglas Adam's biographer, Jem Roberts.
With archive of Stephen Fry, John Lloyd, Naomi Alderman, Griff Rhys Jones and Geoffrey Perkins.
The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde.
Cherie Blair on Dame Rose Heilbron
For Cherie Blair, leading barrister and QC, picking her great life was simple - her role model is Rose Heilbron, England's first woman judge.
When Cherie was growing up in Liverpool, Rose Heilbron was always the name that excited her grandmother the most. Rose was a barrister and when she was arguing a case before a jury in her home city, Cherie Blair's grandmother would follow her cases avidly, sometimes from the public gallery. Then she would come back and tell young Cherie all about what had gone on. And so Heilbron became a great example of what a Liverpool girl could achieve in the law.
And she had a remarkable career - first woman in silk, first to lead in a murder case, first woman treasurer of Gray's Inn.
Cherie is joined in the studio by Hilary Heilbron QC , daughter and the author of the biography: 'Rose Heilbron , Legal Pioneer of the 20th century'; plus Dr John Tribe - senior lecturer in law from the University of Liverpool.
The presenter is Matthew Parris and the producer is Perminder Khatkar.