Wednesday 10 September 2014

Desert Island Discs

I expect you all know about Desert Island Discs - it's a series that has been running on Radio 4 since 1942 (and, astonishingly, has only had four presenters in that time) where a well-known figure picks the eight pieces of music or songs that they would take with them to a desert island. They are also allowed one (chuh! one!) book and one luxury item. These choices are also, of course, a chance for the interviewee (or 'castaway') to give the story of their life.

I've listened to it on and off all my life. It was only recently that archive recordings were made available online, so I listened to a few older ones - but I hadn't realised that they could also be downloaded from iTunes, and thus make their way to my iPod. (The 'download' link on the website doesn't seem to work, so iTunes is the way forward... although the website is a good place to narrow down the possibilities.)

Anyway, this is a roundabout way to saying what a delight it has been, over the past few days, to spend my journeys to and from work listening to Desert Island Discs. There are hundreds of recordings available, from many decades. I assume these are available internationally. So far I have enjoyed listening to...

Jenny Agutter
Joan Plowright
Judi Dench
Mary Berry
Dawn French
Penelope Keith
Gemma Jones
Maureen Lipman

You can tell me interest in theatrical actresses, can't you? I do love to hear or read about the theatre, and another version of Simon would have loved to be on the stage.

But perhaps the best was Sybil Marshall, a novelist whose first novel came out when she was 80. She spoke about what a charmed and lucky life she'd had - and, considering she also spoke about having a stillborn baby and cancer, just goes to show how much is about attitude.

If you've somehow missed these (like me) then - there are many, many hours of enjoyment! As for what I'd take myself... I'm afraid I'd have to eschew music and take audiobooks. I like music, but it doesn't hold a candle to literature in terms of its effect on me.


  1. I live in the US (NJ to be exact) but I stream BBC TV and radio all the time and have become slightly obsessed with Desert Island Discs. I download them and listen to them while driving or running/walking. There is nothing to compare here in the US. I love that there are very famous people (like Judi Dench) and scientists and professors and writers and naturalists and people from all walks of life that have led fascinating lives. It's an amazing program.

  2. I listen to so much BBC radio via podcasts...why I don't have an accent by now is beyond me. Glad you're enjoying the shows, Simon!

  3. This is fun! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks for sharing
    can u download it from ?

    1. I've not had any luck downloading from the website; I download straight from iTunes.


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