Desert Island Discsactive
Publisher |
BBC
Eight tracks, a book and a luxury: what would you take to a desert island? Kirsty Young invites her guests to share the soundtrack of their lives.
People |
Country Of Origin |
United Kingdom
Produced In |
United Kingdom
Frequency |
Weekly

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342 Episodes Available

Average duration:00:36:47

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Martina Cole is a British crime writer, known to her fans as the Queen of Crime. Martina has written 24 novels, 15 of which have topped the original fiction sales charts - more than any other author. She has sold more than 16 million books around the world, and her work has been translated into 29 languages. She also works in prisons, leading reading schemes and writing workshops for prisoners. Martina grew up in Essex, the youngest of five children born to Irish parents. She was expelled from her convent school at 15 for reading a book by Harold Robbins. She married at 16, divorced at 17 and then had a baby at the age of 18. She wrote stories and scripts in her spare time to amuse herself, whilst taking on a series of low-paid jobs, including cleaning, waitressing, stacking shelves and leafletting. At the age of 31, she re-discovered one of her early attempts at a novel, and decided to send it to an agent. She chose Darley Anderson from the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook because she liked the sound of the name. He quickly contacted her and told her she would be a star. He was right: she received an advance of £150,000, then a record for a first time novelist. She has written a best-selling crime novel almost every year ever since. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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John Walker Motson, OBE, also known as Motty, has been commentating on football since 1971. He covered more than 2000 games on television and radio, including all the major football championships, 29 FA Cup finals (with an additional five replays), 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships and 200 England games. At the age of 72 he's just retired. Known not only for his footballing knowledge and his voice, he is often recognised by his knee-length sheepskin coat. His passion for football was ignited by his father, a Methodist minister for 40 years, who on his one day off each week would take his only son to watch football. The first game John attended was at Charlton Athletic when he was seven, and the excitement of it inspired him to create scrapbooks of footballing facts and collect match programmes. After five years at boarding school, where he wasn't allowed to play football, he left at 16 after one term doing A levels. He joined the Barnet Press as a trainee reporter and then moved onto the Sheffield Telegraph. When BBC Radio Sheffield, one of the first six local radio stations, came on air, he was one of the reporters pulled in to give match summaries. He then moved to the BBC as a sports assistant in radio, before joining the Match of the Day team on television. He has been supported in his career by his solicitor wife, Annie, who meticulously kept details of every match in thick A4 books which John used for his preparation. He was awarded an OBE for services to football and in May 2018 he was honoured by BAFTA with a Special Award for his lifetime's work. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Professor Carlos Frenk is a cosmologist and one of the originators of the Cold Dark Matter theory for the formation of galaxies and the structure of the universe. He has worked at Durham University since 1985, where he was appointed the inaugural Ogden Professor of Fundamental Physics in 2001 and has been Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology since 2002. Born in Mexico in 1951, he is the son of a German Jewish immigrant father and a Mexican mother with Spanish roots. After completing his physics degree in Mexico, he came to Cambridge University in the mid-1970s to do a PhD in Astronomy. His first postgraduate job took him to the University of California where he worked on a computer simulation of the universe with three fellow cosmologists, disproving the idea that the universe contains hot dark matter and establishing the theory of cold dark matter instead. Professor Frenk's papers have received more than 100,000 citations, making him one of the most frequently cited authors in the field of space science and astronomy. He has won a number of prizes for his work, including the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. He was awarded a CBE in 2017. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Gillian Reynolds spent 42 years as the radio critic of the Daily Telegraph before she was headhunted by the Sunday Times at the age of 82. Born into a working class family in Liverpool, her mother ran a market stall and her father was a seaman, but also a gambler. Her mother was determined to ensure that Gillian had a good education, and she was the first in her family to go to a grammar school. She went on to study English at Oxford. She took up an internship in America, where she met her husband, and they returned to Liverpool when she became pregnant with the first of her three sons. She first worked as a radio critic for the Guardian in 1967. She became the first female controller of a commercial radio station when she joined Radio City, Liverpool, in 1974. She moved to London in 1975 when she left her troubled marriage, and secured the job of radio critic for the Telegraph, as well as working as a journalist in television and radio, at one point even co-presenting the Today programme. She chaired the Sony Radio Awards for four years, the only woman to have done so, and the Radio Academy Festival for a decade. She lives alone, but with around two dozen radios, in Notting Hill. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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David Baddiel is a comedian and writer. Known both for his solo work and for his comedic collaborations with, among others, Rob Newman and Frank Skinner, he has also written a screenplay, a musical and several books. Born in 1964 to Jewish parents, the second of three boys, he was brought up in Dollis Hill, London. His father was a scientist from Swansea and his mother was a refugee, whose family had to flee from Nazi Germany. When David was 13, his older brother Ivor played him sketches by Derek and Clive which kindled his appetite to become a comedian. He read English at Cambridge and became vice-president of the Footlights before starting out on the London comedy circuit. Together with Steve Punt, Hugh Dennis and Rob Newman, he was part of The Mary Whitehouse Experience for Radio 1 and later BBC 2. Rob and David went on to create Newman and Baddiel in Pieces, and were the first comedians to sell out Wembley Arena with a gig in 1993, prompting newspapers to declare comedy "the new rock 'n' roll". David then formed a comedy partnership with Frank Skinner and they hosted Fantasy Football League and later Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned. They co-wrote the lyrics to one of the best-known football songs, Three Lions. In 2005, David took a break from performance and concentrated on writing novels for adults and children's books as well as the script for a film, which became a musical, The Infidel. He returned to stand-up in 2013 with a show about fame. He recently mined his parents' idiosyncrasies and the rare form of dementia from which his father suffers for a stand-up show entitled My Family: Not the Sitcom. His partner is fellow comedian and writer Morwenna Banks. They have two teenage children. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Dr. Sue Black is a computer scientist, academic and social entrepreneur. She was instrumental in saving Bletchley Park, the home of vital codebreaking during the second world war. Currently an honorary professor at UCL, she founded BCS Women for women in science and the social enterprise Tech Mums, which teaches parents about computing. She is also on an advisory board for the government's digital services. Born in Fareham, Hampshire, she was 12 when her mother died of a brain haemorrhage. She left school and home at the earliest legal age, 16, and by the age of 20 she was the mother of three children. She returned to education by taking a maths access course at night school which led to a degree in computing from South Bank University in 1993. She gained a PhD in software engineering in 2001 and became a lecturer. She was Head of Department of Computing Science at the University of Westminster before leaving in 2012 to become a technology evangelist. In 2016 She was awarded the Order of the British Empire for services to for services to technology. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Sir Peter Lampl is a philanthropist who has given over £50 million and worked for 20 years to combat educational inequality. In 1997 he founded the Sutton Trust with the aim of improving social mobility. The Trust has funded over 200 research studies, and it initiates and supports a wide range of programmes, covering everything from early years education to access to the professions. The son of a Viennese émigré, Peter Lampl grew up in modest circumstances in Yorkshire until the age of 11, when his family relocated to Surrey. He attended grammar schools, Oxford University and the London Business School. He worked as a management consultant and businessman in the USA and Europe, and in 1983 he set up the Sutton Company, an international private equity firm. His first move into philanthropy came in the wake of the Dunblane school shootings in 1996, when he funded the campaign which led to a complete ban on the private ownership of handguns in the UK. His interest in social mobility was sparked by his realisation that in recent years "a kid like me had little chance of making it to Oxbridge", noting that his school was now "all fee-paying" and his Oxford college "used to have lots of ordinary Welsh kids, but they're not coming through any more." He received an OBE in 2000 for services to Access to Higher Education, and was knighted in June 2003. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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Abi Morgan is a screenwriter and playwright best known for TV dramas The Hour, River and The Split and the films Shame, Suffragette and The Iron Lady. She won two Emmy Awards for The Hour, as well as two BAFTAs for Best Single Drama for White Girl and Sex Traffic, and Meryl Streep won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Born into a theatrical family - her father was a theatre director, her mother is an actress - she only began to write during her university days at Exeter. After graduating, she kept herself afloat by waitressing while continuing to write and had her first play performed professionally in 1998 when she was 30. She's become known for her gritty storylines in the dramas Murder, Sex Traffic, and Tsunami, but has also adapted several books for both the small and the big screen including Brick Lane, The Invisible Woman, and Birdsong. Abi lives in London with her long-term partner, the actor Jacob Krichefski, and their two teenage children. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Another chance to listen to the writer speaking to Sue Lawley in 1991. Her most famous creation was Adrian Mole, and, in many respects, his life mirrored her own: like her hero, she came from a poor but not deprived background and always nursed a secret ambition to be a writer. She talks to Sue Lawley about her life and work and carefully selects eight records which remind her of some of the most significant events in her life. Favourite track: Violin Concerto in D by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Book: Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis Luxury: Swimming pool of champagne
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Another chance to listen to the singer-songwriter speaking to Kirsty Young in 2008. Her extraordinary voice has captivated us for decades and, as one half of the group Eurythmics and as a solo artist, she's sold tens of millions of records and won fistfuls of awards. As a teenager, her musical ability was her passport out of her home town of Aberdeen. At that point, a career as a flautist beckoned: but, after studying in London, she felt she could never make her mark as a classical musician. It was a chance encounter with aspiring pop-star Dave Stewart that set her on an entirely different path. For much of the 1980s, all her creative energy went into making music. But when her children were born, she says, her priorities shifted. Now she devotes much of her time and energy to supporting different humanitarian causes. She says: "I need to find meaning in my life to make me happy; and that's been an ongoing struggle." Favourite track: I Say A Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin Book: Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle Luxury: Suncream
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Another chance to listen to the theoretical physicist speaking to Sue Lawley in 1992. Stephen Hawking wrote the best-selling A Brief History of Time and was the founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, where he was also the Emeritus Lucasian Professor. He talked to Sue Lawley about his life and work, and the illness which left him severely disabled, as well as selecting the eight discs he would choose to take to the mythical island. Favourite track: Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Book: Middlemarch by George Eliot Luxury: Crème brûlée
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Another chance to listen to the comedian speaking to Kirsty Young in 2007. For decades she was one of our best-loved writers and performers. The television series she made - including Acorn Antiques, Dinnerladies and Housewife 49 - won her a devoted following as well as stacks of awards. But, in a moving and open interview, she describes how, as a teenager, she felt she was a misfit - she had few friends, she struggled with her weight and at school she used to steal other people's homework. She joined a youth theatre and it was, she says, the saving of her. She found like-minded people and a sense that she had something to offer. She was very careful about how much of her own life she put into her work. She doesn't mind saying she cuts her pubic hair with nail-scissors, but rarely discusses her children on the stage. Favourite track: What a Fool Believes by The Doobie Brothers Book: A big book by Charles Dickens Luxury: A bumper book of Sudoku with blank pages pens
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Another chance to listen to the world famous musician speaking to Sue Lawley in 2004. As a boy growing up in the impoverished townships of South Africa, he was inspired to learn the trumpet after seeing Kirk Douglas play Bix Beiderbecke in Young Man With A Horn. He begged one of his teachers - the anti-apartheid crusader Father Trevor Huddleston - to buy him a horn and in return he promised to stay out of trouble. Hugh soon made a name for himself in South Africa but as the racial tensions intensified during the 50s he decided he had to leave his homeland to get a better music education in America. There he quickly made a name for himself with his fusion of African jazz music and became a 'flower child' playing with some of the great bands of the decade: Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix and the Byrds. He's still probably best known for his number-one track, Grazing in the Grass, which sold four million copies worldwide in 1968. He returned to Africa in 1973, spending the next 17 years working on a range of musical collaborations in Botswana, Liberia, Nigeria, Congo and Guinea. Then, after thirty years in self-imposed exile, he returned to his homeland in 1990. Favourite track: Lilizela Mlilezeli by Mahlathini the Mahotella Queens Book: Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens Luxury: A keyboard