January 8, 2009 / 1:23 AM / 10 years ago

George Best, two British PMs added to dictionary

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Northern Irish soccer star George Best and two former British prime ministers are among the new additions to the online version of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, which is updated on Thursday.

Profiles of 215 people who died in 2005 have been added to the site www.oxforddnb.com, including popular Labour politicians Robin Cook and Mo Mowlam, television comic Ronnie Barker and Communist spy Melita Norwood.

Conservative leader Edward Heath, who took Britain into the forerunner of the European Union in the early 1970s before he was ousted as party leader by Margaret Thatcher, died in 2005 aged 89.

Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan, in charge when pay strikes plunged Britain into misery during the so-called “winter of discontent” of 1978-79, passed away several months earlier on the eve of his 93rd birthday.

Best was widely regarded as the greatest player to come from the British Isles, but a lifetime of heavy drinking eventually took its toll.

Barker was one of the country’s best-loved comedians for his turns as the indomitable Fletcher in prison comedy “Porridge” and bumbling grocer Arkwright in “Open All Hours.” He also partnered Ronnie Corbett in the successful “The Two Ronnies” show.

John Fowles, author of “The French Lieutenant’s Woman,” appears, as does Melita Norwood, dubbed “the spy who came in from the Co-op” who lived an apparently blameless life in a London suburb until unmasked in her old age as a spy for the Soviet Union.

(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)

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