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Baroness Carnegy of Lour: Farmer who became a life peer respected by

Between 1982 and 2005 when parliament was in session, every Monday at Edinburgh airport and most Thursdays or Fridays at Heathrow, it was possible that I would bump into Elizabeth Carnegy going to and fro to carry out her duties in the House of Lords to which she had been elevated by her admirer, Margaret Thatcher, in 1982. Duty was what she was about: no life peer or baroness took the Lords more seriously. And in consequence, I was told by Labour peers who did not share many of her views, that though she was very much an archetypal Tory lady, they took her seriously and liked her. And they were right to do so. She was utterly sincere, sensible and forthright in her views, and devoid of political malice.

Shirley Valentine/Educating Rita, Trafalgar Studios, London

Willy Russell's scabrous Scousers, Shirley Valentine (Saint Joan of the fitted kitchen units, with all her nosy-neighbour voices) and hairdresser Rita of the Open University, are still going strong after a quarter of a century. They are now as engraved in the national consciousness as Maggie May, resilient streetwalker of the Liverpool docks, or the battling socialist MP Bessie Braddock. This Menier Chocolate Factory transfer, for a summer season at the Trafalgar Studios, presents Russell's two plays in all their wit and vivacity.

Even if we found aliens, how would we communicate?

The great Italian physicist, Enrico Fermi, called it a paradox. If life is not unique to Earth, and with billions of stars in just our own galaxy, then there must be many millions of Earth-like planets out there populated by intelligent beings. So why haven’t we seen them?

David Taylor: MP who fought to improve primary health care for cancer

Somehow or another, visiting Parliamentary colleagues have a sixth sense about the relationship between their host Member of Parliament and those whom he or she represents. In 2003, in my capacity as Father of the House of Commons, I was invited by the England Central Woodlands Project to open one of their new forest developments, part of which was in the North-West Leicestershire constituency. David Taylor met me on site, and it immediately became apparent that he had an excellent rapport with both his constituents and the local and national forestry community. Quite simply, he was not only respected, but loved – yes it is possible for a politician to be loved – by local people of many different party allegiances. As he drove me in his car back to London it was confirmed to me what a serious and thoughtful socialist he was.

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Angus Calder: Historian, critic and poet whose 'The People's War'

Angus Calder was for many years a conspicuous figure in the Edinburgh literary scene, but those who knew his prodigious output and his teaching career realised that there was much more to him than that genial presence in poetry readings, theatre, pubs and literary events all over Scotland.