Desert Island Discsactive
Publisher |
BBC
Desert Island Discs was created by Roy Plomley in 1942, and the format is simple: a guest is invited by Kirsty Young to choose the eight records they would take with them to a desert island
People |
Country Of Origin |
United Kingdom
Produced In |
United Kingdom
Frequency |
Weekly

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313 Episodes Available

Average duration:00:36:37

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Kelsey Grammer is best known for his two-decade-long portrayal of psychiatrist Dr Frasier Crane which began on the NBC sitcom Cheers. He continued the role in the hugely successful spin-off series Frasier which ran for 11 years. When the series ended in 2004, it had won a total of 35 Emmys. Born in the Virgin Islands, he was brought up by his mother and maternal grandparents in Florida, after his parents divorced. He studied drama at the Julliard School in New York but left before the end of the second year. He got his big break when he joined the cast of Cheers in 1984. In his personal life Grammer has experienced a great deal of loss - his much-loved grandfather died when he was 12 and his 18 year old sister was murdered when he was 20. His struggles with drink and drugs, now behind him, are well documented. Married four times, he is the father of seven. The winner of multiple awards, he is also a TV producer, director, writer, and known for his voice work: among others he was Sideshow Bob in The Simpsons and Stinky Pete in Toy Story 2. He is currently on stage in London. Presenter Kirsty Young Producer Cathy Drysdale.
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Tim Martin is the chairman and founder of the pub company JD Wetherspoon. He opened his first pub, Martin's Free House, in 1979 in North London. Now the chain employs 37,000 people, in 891 pubs of which 54 are hotels. Travelling from his home in Devon, Tim visits at least ten of them a week taking detailed 'call notes' on the staff, the beer, the quality of the food and even the cutlery. In 2016 he became one of the most high-profile UK business people arguing in favour in leaving the EU. He printed half a million beer mats for his pubs, making the case for Brexit. His success in the pub industry might be in the genes. His father, initially an aerobatic pilot, later worked for Guinness, which took the family around the globe and Tim spent his childhood in both New Zealand and Northern Ireland. He trained for the law but instead chose the career of a publican. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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The writer and activist Naomi Klein reached an international audience with her first book, the best-selling No Logo, a rallying cry against the power of corporate brands and the replacement of traditional manufacturing jobs with sweatshop labour. Since then, she's turned her intellectual ire on to even bigger terrain - the political and economic systems underpinning capitalism and climate change. The way to save the planet, she says, requires a radical rethink which will address what she calls the "unresolved tensions" between big business and over-consumption. It's no surprise then that her fierce broadsides against the free market ideology have attracted plaudits and opprobrium in equal measure. But, coming from a family steeped in political activism, such polarized reactions come with the territory. Her grandparents were fervent Marxists and she was born in Canada to American activist parents who fled the US in protest against the Vietnam War. Her mother is a feminist filmmaker while her doctor father was heavily involved with the natural birth movement. Growing up in the 1980s, she was a committed shopper and self-confessed "teeny bopper." But at 19 she experienced a dramatic political awakening - after that, she says, "you had to call yourself a feminist." Presenter Kirsty Young Producer Paula McGinley.
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Micky Flanagan found mainstream success as a comedian in 2007 with his autobiographical 'What Chance Change?' show at the Edinburgh fringe, where he was nominated as best newcomer. Raised in the East End of London, he left school at 15 with no qualifications and followed his dad into work as a fish porter at Billingsgate fish market. When he quit that job, he spent a summer working in a kitchen in New York, and then returned to London to spend much of the 1980s working in the furniture trade. When his business collapsed he worked as a window cleaner and decorator. He played truant through much of his secondary school career, but in his mid-twenties he studied for a GCSE in English, and later gained a place at City University, London, graduating with Social Sciences degree. He trained to become a teacher, and then discovered comedy through night classes. Sell-out UK tours and appearances on 'Mock the Week' and 'Would I Lie to You' followed, and he's made two TV series for Sky - 'Detour De France' and 'Micky Flanagan: Thinking Aloud'. He's just finished his third tour of the UK and Ireland with his show 'An' Another Fing...' Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Anna Pavord, writer & gardener, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Professor Phil Scraton is Professor Emeritus at the School of Law at Queen's University Belfast. A criminologist and author, he's director of the Childhood, Transition and Social Justice Initiative and was lead researcher of the Hillsborough Independent Panel. Born into a working class family in Wallasey in the Wirral in 1949, he attended a seminary at the age of 12. Deciding the religious life was not for him he worked as a bus conductor before attending Liverpool University where he read Sociology. His early work with Travellers and Liverpool's black community led to an interest in deaths in custody and prison conditions. Then, following the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 he would spend the next 28 years researching and writing about the disaster - his book Hillsborough: The Truth was first published in 1999. The Hillsborough Independent Panel's 2012 report led to a second inquest which concluded in April 2016 that the 96 people who died had been unlawfully killed and that fans behaviour had not contributed to the disaster in any way. Phil and his partner, Deena, have lived in Belfast since 2003. He has two grown-up sons from his first marriage. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Kay Mellor, OBE, is an English screenwriter and director best known for TV drama series including Band of Gold, Playing the Field, Fat Friends and The Syndicate. She has won a Bafta award, along with numerous nominations, and she received a Royal Television Society Fellowship in 2016. She has also worked as an actress, and has written for the stage. Kay was born in Leeds and has lived there all her life. It's also the home of her production company. Her highly successful career now seems worlds away from her early life, when she became pregnant and got married at the age of 16, curtailing her dreams of going to drama school. Later, whilst enjoying motherhood, she decided to return to education, studying for a degree in drama at Bretton Hall College. Upon graduation, she worked in theatre, then at Granada TV as a scriptwriter on Coronation Street before embarking on her own prolific writing career for TV and theatre. She celebrates her Golden Wedding anniversary later this year. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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Edna Adan Ismail is a midwife and campaigner. As a 12 year old growing up in British Somaliland, her dream was to build her own hospital. It took her some 50 years and all her savings to realise her ambition, and the state of the art hospital she built is a testament to her passion and dogged determination. Nursing and midwifery have been her life since she won a scholarship to study in the UK in the mid-1950s, when she cycled to appointments in her black raincoat to deliver babies all around London. Married at one time to the prime minister of Somalia, she juggled the high profile role of First Lady with shifts at her local hospital. "I was born with this desire to fix things," she says. As her country's first female foreign minister, she broke deep-rooted taboos by publicly condemning the widespread practice of female genital mutilation - FGM. Her opposition stems from personal experience - she was only eight years old when she endured the invasive procedure herself. Now 80, she lives on site at her beloved hospital, where more than 22,000 babies have been born since it opened in 2002. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Paula McGinley.
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Jane Gardam is best known for her trilogy of novels about an ex-colonial QC nicknamed Old Filth. A writer for both adults and children, she has won two Whitbread awards, the Katherine Mansfield Award and has been shortlisted for the Booker and the Orange Prize for Fiction. Born in 1928, she grew up in North Yorkshire where her father was a schoolmaster at a small independent boys' school. Her mother wrote sermons and was an inveterate letter-writer. After graduating, Jane had a number of literary jobs, but gave up working to raise her three young children. Although she wrote poems as a young girl, her writing career didn't begin in earnest until the day her youngest child started school when she began to write her first book. Since then, she has published more than 30 books, including novels for children and adults as well as short stories and a non-fiction volume about the Yorkshire of her youth. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Sir James MacMillan is a Scottish composer and conductor. He's one of Britain's most successful living classical composers, with his percussion concerto, Veni Veni Emmanuel, receiving more than 600 performances since its premiere in 1992. He draws inspiration from both the spiritual and the secular: many of his works draw on his Roman Catholic faith, while his passion for Celtic football club provided the initial spark for a piano concerto. James MacMillan grew up in Cumnock, East Ayrshire, traditionally a mining centre. His father was a carpenter, and his grandfather a coal miner. He learned the trumpet and played in brass bands, whilst realising at a very young age that he wanted to make music his life. When he first picked up a recorder at school, and realised that he could change the pitch by putting different fingers over the holes, he says a light went on and he knew that he wanted to write music as well as play it. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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Siddhartha Mukherjee is a cancer specialist. His biography of the disease, The Emperor of All Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010. A haematologist and oncologist by training, his research focuses on cancer therapy and gene functions related to blood cells. His latest book, The Gene, goes in search of normality, identity, variation and heredity. Born in India in 1970 he grew up with his extended family in Delhi. In his youth he trained as an Indian classical singer before travelling to the US to study biology at Stanford. At Oxford he was a Rhodes scholar before enrolling at Harvard to study medicine. He is currently Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Columbia University Medical Centre. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Professor Dame Jane Francis is the Director of the British Antarctic Survey. She is no stranger to surviving in extreme conditions, because for much of her career her research has taken her to the Polar Regions. Travelling with her fossil hammer, her principal interests are in palaeoclimatology and palaeobotany. She specialises in the study of fossil plants, and how they shape our understanding of climates in the distant past, when Antarctica was much warmer. In 2002 she received the Polar Medal, for her outstanding contribution to British polar research, and in 2013 she became the first woman to head the British Antarctic Survey.
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Paul Greengrass has directed three Jason Bourne films, starring Matt Damon, Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks in the title role, and the 9/11 film United 93, which earned him an Academy Award nomination. He won a Bafta for the film The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, and he wrote and directed the acclaimed Bloody Sunday. His father was a merchant seaman and his mother a teacher and he grew up in Gravesend in Kent. Expelled from his first secondary school, at his next he made his first film at the age of 16. After learning the craft of documentary-making on World In Action at Granada TV, he turned to making feature films. In October 2017, Paul will receive the BFI fellowship, the British Film Institute's highest accolade. Presenter: Kirsty Young Producer: Cathy Drysdale Photo: Amanda Benson.
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Kirsty Young's castaway is Dr. Kevin Fong. He is a consultant anaesthetist at University College Hospital London, and an expert on space medicine. He is a senior lecturer in Physiology at UCL and the co-director of the Centre for Aviation, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine. Born to parents who had come to the UK from Mauritius, he grew up in London. His parents put great emphasis on education - which they had both missed out on in their youth. Kevin's first degree was in astrophysics and he went on to study medicine. He has combined his love of space with medicine and has spent time working at the Johnson Space Centre in the US. He has been a consultant anaesthetist since 2010, but has kept pursuing his interests in extreme environments from space to altitude and depth. He has made many television documentaries about his field of interest and gave the 2015 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures. Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, is Kirsty Young's castaway. She worked for Google at the beginning of the tech boom before joining Facebook in 2008. Raised in Miami Beach, Florida, she studied economics at Harvard. She became chief of staff for Larry Summers, Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, before moving to Silicon Valley. Sheryl published her first book called Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead in 2013 which tried to answer the question why so few women reach the top echelons of their professions. In 2015, her husband of eleven years and father of their two children, Dave Goldberg, died suddenly while they were on holiday. In her second book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, she describes her struggles in dealing with this sudden loss. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Kirsty Young's castaway is Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Chief Executive of Virgin Money. She is currently the government's Women in Finance Champion. She worked for Fred Goodwin at RBS just prior to the financial crisis before returning to Virgin Money in 2007. A mother of one, she endured many miscarriages and has written about her experience of post-natal depression following her daughter's birth. An only child, she was brought up first in the Midlands, then in East Anglia. She was one of very few girls to attend a newly co-educational boys' school where she was bullied. Following a year spent working in an unemployment office she went to Royal Holloway College in London where she met her future husband, Ash, to whom she's been married for 33 years. Earlier this year she published her autobiography. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Kirsty Young's castaway is the tennis player and commentator, John McEnroe. He won three singles and five doubles Wimbledon titles, four singles and four doubles at the US Open and was ranked number one in the world for four consecutive years in the 1980s. John McEnroe grew up in New York and didn't pick up a tennis racquet until the age of eight, but his talent was quickly spotted and he began to compete in junior tournaments. In 1977, aged 18 and between high school and university, he qualified for the main draw at Wimbledon and reached the semi-finals where he lost to Jimmy Connors. By the end of the tournament his on-court behaviour - shouting, haranguing umpires and abusing his racquet - earned him the nickname 'Superbrat'. He made his first Wimbledon final against Bjorn Borg in 1980. In one of the finest matches in history, despite winning a tiebreak 18-16 to win the fourth set, he lost the match. He beat Borg the following year to win his first Wimbledon singles title. 1984 was the best year in John's career: he won 82 out of 85 matches he played, but it was also the year when he was beaten at the French Open by Ivan Lendl, who replaced him as number one. John married the actress Tatum O'Neal in 1986. They divorced in the mid-1990s and he has been married to the singer Patty Smyth since 1997. Since retiring in 1992, in addition to his role as tennis commentator, he has been a coach and runs his own tennis academy. He still plays in tennis tournaments. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Kirsty Young's castaway is the comedian and TV presenter Sue Perkins. She and her friend Mel Giedroyc first appeared as a comedy duo at the Edinburgh Fringe over 20 years ago and together they presented the first seven series of The Great British Bake Off. Born at the end of the 1960s, Sue grew up in Croydon, the eldest of three siblings. By her own description a "shy and awkward" child, she nonetheless made it to Cambridge University to study English. She and Mel met at a Footlights open mic gig soon after she'd arrived. Their first joint high-profile success was landing a new live daytime programme on Channel 4 called Light Lunch, which turned them into household names. Sue also formed a second presenting partnership, making historical food programmes with Giles Coren. When she was 38 she was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour which left her unable to have children. Sue has been in a relationship with the TV presenter Anna Richardson since 2013. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Kirsty Young's castaway is the theoretical physicist, Professor Carlo Rovelli. His book 'Seven Brief Lessons on Physics' became one of the fastest-selling science titles of all time, catapulting him from the world of academia into the global spotlight. Committed to bridging the gap between science and art and making complex scientific issues comprehensible for the lay person, he is currently Professor of Physics at Aix-Marseille University. Born in Verona, and an only child, he was encouraged to learn, to be independent and dreamed of travelling through space. By the age of 12 his long-standing rebellious streak was visible and he would later interrupt his university career to travel. Now in his early sixties, his academic career has seen him work in Europe and America and among the scientific community he is best known as one of the founders of Loop Quantum Gravity theory. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the fashion designer Stella McCartney. Born the middle child of Paul and Linda McCartney, Stella's early years were a paradox: she would either spend her days riding ponies, sharing one of two bedrooms with her sisters in a farmhouse, and generally mucking around in the countryside - or touring the world with her parents' band Wings and spending time in the company of stars such as David Bowie and Iggy Pop. Amid the tours and travelling, she believes her parents offered her a vital childhood gift: normality. Stella attended the local school and went on to win a place at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design to study fashion design. Two years after a graduation show that made the headlines because the clothes were modelled by Stella's friends Kate Moss, Yasmin Le Bon and Naomi Campbell, she landed the job of Creative Director at the French fashion house Chloé. During her four years there, she transformed its fortunes. In 2001, she set up her own label in a joint venture with Gucci. Throughout her career, she has never used leather, fur, feathers or animal skins. She now operates 51 freestanding stores in locations including Manhattan, Mayfair, and Milan, and her collections are distributed through shops in over 70 countries. Her signature style is described as combining sharp tailoring - learned in Savile Row where she would spend her evenings whilst at Saint Martins - with a sexy femininity. She has also designed all the outfits for Team GB for the past two Olympics. She has four children with her husband, Alasdhair Willis. Stella has won numerous awards including the British Fashion Council's Designer of the Year and Brand of the Year as well as Designer of the Year and Brand of the Year at the British Fashion Awards. She received an OBE in 2013. Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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Kirsty Young's castaway is Jed Mercurio. Creator of Line of Duty, and an award-winning TV writer, producer, director and novelist, he is one of the few British script-writers to work as an American-style show-runner. A former hospital doctor and RAF officer, he has been ranked among UK television's leading writers by TV industry magazine Broadcast. His Italian parents moved to the UK after the Second World War and he was brought up in Cannock in the Midlands. Keen on science as a child, with dreams of becoming an astronaut, he studied medicine at Birmingham University. While there, he applied for the RAF medical doctor programme and learned to fly. While he was working as a hospital doctor, he answered an advertisement in the British Medical Journal seeking advisors for a medical TV drama. Despite negligible writing experience, he went on to script the BBC medical drama Cardiac Arrest. Its continuing success led him to leave medicine and embark on a successful career as a scriptwriter. His chief works for TV are the series Line of Duty, Bodies, The Grimleys and Cardiac Arrest. He's also written books: Bodies; Ascent; American Adulterer, and for children, The Penguin Expedition. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Rick Wakeman, musician and composer, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs Producer: Paula McGinley.
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Kirsty Young's castaway is the theatre producer, Sonia Friedman. Acclaimed as the most influential producer in British theatre today, she has produced over 160 new shows. They include Funny Girl with Sheridan Smith, Jerusalem starring Mark Rylance, Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet, the record-breaking Book of Mormon and the musicals Legally Blonde, and Dreamgirls. Her productions both here and on Broadway have won numerous awards, including a record-breaking 14 Olivier Awards in 2014, and nine this year for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Brought up in a creative, if unconventional, household, she left school at 16. After a stage management course at Central School of Speech and Drama, she cut her teeth at the National Theatre, worked with Harold Pinter, Richard Eyre and Tom Stoppard and then co-founded Out of Joint, a leading touring theatre company, with Max Stafford-Clark. She was named Producer of the Year for the third year in a row at The Stage Awards, and this year she also claimed number one spot in The Stage 100, a chart of the most influential people in British theatre, overtaking Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the Turkish writer Elif Shafak. Elif Shafak has published ten novels and several volumes of non-fiction and her work is translated into 47 languages. She is the most widely read female novelist in Turkey today. Born in 1971, she was raised by a single working mother and also, for the first ten years of her life, by her grandmother in Ankara. Her mother's job as a diplomat led to a move to Madrid when Elif was ten years old - and so began a peripatetic life which has taken her to places as diverse as Jordan and Germany, the United States and finally to London where she has lived for the past seven years. Elif wrote her first novels in Turkish, but began writing in English shortly after the start of the new millennium. English, she says, has given her a new freedom to write about sensitive issues in Turkey. Her books draw on diverse cultures and reflect her interest in history, philosophy, spiritualism and Sufism. One commentator has said of her work: "Stepping into the writing of this Turkish-born author for the first time is like breaking through the back of a children's wardrobe and walking into a whole new multicultural world of lives and histories - and, above all, fabulous stories." She is a regular columnist both for English as well as Turkish papers and also writes lyrics for rock musicians. Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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Kirsty Young's castaway is Dr Demis Hassabis. An artificial intelligence researcher and co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, he is also a neuroscientist, a computer games designer, an entrepreneur, and in his youth, a world-class chess player. Born in 1976, he was introduced to chess aged four and, by the age of twelve, was the world's second-highest ranked player for his age. With his winnings, he bought himself a PC and taught himself to code. After taking his A Levels two years early, before going to university he worked on one of the most successful computer games of the 1990s, Theme Park. He graduated from Cambridge with a double first, and returned to the computer games industry, founding his own company in his early twenties. His passion had long been artificial intelligence and he says everything he's done has been part of a long-term plan to "solve intelligence" and then use intelligence "to solve everything else". He gained a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience where he deliberately chose to study topics where AI had failed so far: memory and imagination. After stints at MIT and Harvard, he co-founded his company in 2010, which was then acquired by Google in January 2014. In March 2016 their computer programme, AlphaGo, beat a world champion Go player at the game having taught itself how to play through a combination of two techniques - deep learning and reinforcement learning. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the writer and poet Liz Lochhead. She was the Makar, the Scottish national poet, between 2011 and 2016. Liz was born in Motherwell, not far from Glasgow, in 1947. She was always drawing at school and so decided to study at the Glasgow School of Art, where she didn't enjoy the drawing, but did start writing. After winning a poetry competition, she started performing her poems at readings in Scotland. She published her first pamphlet of poetry, Memo for Spring, in 1972, after a publisher heard her at a reading. After her second volume of poetry was published in 1978 and she won the first Scottish/Canadian Writers' Exchange Fellowship which took her to Toronto for a year, she was able to give up her job as an art teacher and start writing full time. From the early 1980s, she started writing plays as well as poetry, and has also adapted classic Greek and French plays for the stage. She was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2015. Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Ed Sheeran. His songs have brought him two Grammys, four Brit awards and global success. Shortly after the release of his latest album, Divide, tracks from it occupied nine of the top 10 places in the UK singles chart. Born into a creative family, Ed had piano and cello lessons as a youngster and briefly sang in a local church choir. At the age of 11, seeing Eric Clapton play Layla on TV at the Queen's Golden Jubilee concert inspired him to take up the guitar. Ten years later, Ed himself was performing at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert. Ed left school and home at 16 to focus on playing gigs in London. Despite relentless performing he failed to secure a recording contract and decided to try his luck in America. During a successful stint performing in Los Angeles, he came to the attention of the Academy Award-winning actor and musician Jamie Foxx, and within months of returning to the UK he'd signed a record deal. His first single, The A Team, became a top ten hit around the world and won him an Ivor Novello award, and his second and third albums topped the UK and US charts. In 2015 he performed at Wembley Stadium as a solo artist for three nights to capacity crowds, and this year he is headlining the Pyramid stage on the final night of Glastonbury. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Kirsty Young's castaway is the writer, Arundhati Roy. She won the Booker Prize for her first novel, The God Of Small Things, which has been translated into 40 languages and became the best-selling book ever by a non-expatriate Indian. After a gap of 20 years, her second novel will be published in June. Brought up in Kerala, her Syrian Christian mother left her marriage when her children were young and set up a small school where Arundhati and her brother were educated. Raised to be independent, aged 16, Arundhati left home to study architecture in Delhi before being introduced to the film world by her second husband. Since the publication of The God of Small Things in 1997, she has continued to write non-fiction, using her influence her to focus on tackling injustice. She has campaigned against India's nuclear programme, dam-building, globalisation, religious intolerance and the inequality of Indian society. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the architect Amanda Levete. She won the Stirling prize in 1998 for the Media Centre at Lord's Cricket Ground which she designed with then husband, the late Jan Kaplicky. Later this year the Victoria and Albert Museum in London will open her extension, featuring a new entrance, courtyard and gallery. Brought up in Richmond, the oldest of three children, she showed her independent spirit early on, and left school at 16. She discovered architecture while on a Foundation year at art school and was offered a place at the Architectural Association, even though her portfolio didn't feature a single drawing of a building. Since setting up her own practice in 2009, her creative endeavours have included the Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology (MAAT) in Lisbon, a retail and hotel complex in Bangkok, and the MPavilion Queen Victoria Gardens in Melbourne. In 2016 her practice won competitions to transform the Galleries Lafayette building in Paris and create a new mosque in Abu Dhabi. She has also designed furniture, stackable football pitches and set up a pop-up restaurant serving nothing but tinned fish. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Kirsty Young's castaway is the writer Marian Keyes. Her twelve novels to date have sold 35 million copies and are published in 33 languages. Some of her novels have been adapted for the screen. She has also published three volumes of journalism. Marian was born the eldest of five children in Ireland in 1963. While she was academically successful at school, she says she wasn't taught to think for herself, which left her ill prepared for university where she studied law. After completing her degree, but failing to get apprenticed to a law firm in Dublin, she moved to London. She spent her twenties working as a waitress, and began drinking heavily. She went into rehab for her alcoholism when she was 30. Her fortunes changed once she was sober: she sent some short stories she had written the previous year off to a publisher and had her debut novel published in 1995. Marian has described each of her books as "a comedy about something serious" and says they are a reflection of who she is: "I'm very bleak, really melancholic. But I've always used humour as a survival mechanism. I write for me and I need to feel hopeful about the human condition. So no way I'm going to write a downbeat ending. And it isn't entirely ludicrous to suggest that sometimes things might work out for the best." Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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Kirsty Young's castaway is the comedian and television presenter Jimmy Carr. He is the son of Irish immigrant parents and grew up in Berkshire. Despite being dyslexic, he got good enough A levels to study at Cambridge University. After graduating with a degree in Political Science, and working for a major multinational company in London, Jimmy had what he calls an 'early midlife crisis', during which he lost his Catholic faith and was generally unhappy. He attended lots of therapy courses in an attempt to find out what would make him happier and eventually set out on the road to becoming a comedian. He quickly got a reputation for his fierce work ethic, heading up annually to the Edinburgh Fringe, touring with a new show virtually every year, and hosting many a Channel 4 panel show including 8 Out of 10 Cats and the Big Fat Quiz of the Year. He has also made a name for himself by becoming what he has called "the king of the inappropriate", drawing criticism for making jokes about sensitive subjects. Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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Kirsty Young's castaway is the Olympian and rower, Dame Katherine Grainger. A six-time rowing World Champion across a variety of classes, her silver medal at Rio in 2016 made her the most successful female British Olympic athlete ever, having won medals in five consecutive games. Born in Glasgow in 1975, her parents were teachers. At school she earned a black belt in karate, and it wasn't until she went to Edinburgh University that her passion for rowing was truly ignited. Winning silver medals at the Sydney, Athens and Beijing Olympics, Katherine finally ceased to be the sport's eternal bridesmaid when, with her partner Anna Watkins, she won gold in the Double Sculls at the 2012 London Olympics. After two years away from the sport, Katherine returned in 2014, to win her fourth silver and fifth overall Olympic medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics with her new partner, Vicky Thornley. Alongside her sporting achievements, she gained an Honours degree in Law from Edinburgh, a Masters in Medical Law from Glasgow University and was awarded a PhD in Homicide Sentencing from King's College London in 2013. She was made the fourth Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University in 2015 and became a Dame in the 2017 New Year Honours. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Kirsty Young's castaway is military historian, Sir Antony Beevor. His books about some of the key battles of the Second World War are best-sellers and have been credited with reinvigorating the whole genre. There was little indication of this future success while he was boarder at Winchester public school where he failed to pass either his History or his English A levels. During the five years he spent in the army, including two years at Sandhurst for officer training, he studied history under the great military historian, John Keegan. On deciding he wanted to be a writer, his first three novels had limited success, and he was encouraged by his publishers to draw on his experience of army life and turn his talents to military history. His ground-breaking work Stalingrad was based on what he discovered in the Russian military archives and won him the Samuel Johnson Prize, the Wolfson Prize for History and the Hawthornden Prize. In his book Berlin: the Downfall 1945, he wrote about the mass rapes of German women committed by the Red Army at the end of the war. He was knighted in the 2017 New Year honours list. He is married to the writer Artemis Cooper. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Roy Plomley's castaway is broadcaster and writer Clive James. Favourite track: Baby Love by Diana Ross and The Supremes Book: Book about how to build a plane out of palm fronds and coconut fibre by Willy Messerschmitt Luxury: Space invaders
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June Brown is best known today for her role as the long-suffering chain-smoking Dot Cotton (now Dot Branning) in the BBC TV soap EastEnders. She arrived on a three month contract in 1985 and is still in the show. She was nominated for a BAFTA in 2008. She celebrates her 90th birthday in February 2017 and has no intention of retiring as acting "keeps her alive". June was born in Suffolk and brought up in a music-loving family. Towards the end of World War Two, she joined up, choosing the WRNS where she worked as a cinema operator showing training films and newsreels to the sailors. She did some acting during that time and after a brief and unsuccessful job in an office, she was one of very few chosen to receive a classical training at the Old Vic Theatre School. From there she joined the Old Vic Theatre Company where she worked with such greats as Edith Evans, Laurence Oliver and Albert Finney. Her roles included Lady Macbeth and Ibsen's Hedda Gabler. She had five children in relatively quick succession and continued acting on TV and the London stage, often putting her youngest in a pram and going in the guard's van on the train to the theatre. Throughout her time on EastEnders she has occasionally ventured away to direct or take part in other television series. In 2009 she stripped down to nothing as Jessie in the stage production Calendar Girls. She was 82. She was awarded an MBE for services to drama and charity in 2008. Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the rugby union referee Nigel Owens. His steely authority and quick wit on the field have won him worldwide praise - he's widely regarded as one of the best referees in the business for the impact he makes on the flow and coherence of a game. In 2015 he became the second Welsh official since 1991 to referee a World Cup Final - in a memorable match between New Zealand and Australia. Born and raised in a small village in Carmarthenshire, he first picked up the whistle aged 16, when it became clear to both his teacher and himself that he wouldn't make much impact as a player. A former school technician and farm worker, he broke through onto the international refereeing circuit in 2005 and took charge of his first Test when Japan hosted Ireland in Osaka that summer. In 2007 he became one of the first high-profile sports professionals to come out as gay - a courageous move in a sport which often defines the word macho. He has spoken about this decision as being the biggest challenge he has ever faced - even more so than officiating an international match under intense scrutiny in front of 95,000 spectators and a global TV audience. The severe depression he experienced coming to terms with his sexuality culminated in an attempt to take his own life in his twenties. He now says the unwavering support he has received from the rugby authorities, the players and the fans has enabled him to be true to himself and carry on working in the game he loves. Producer: Paula McGinley.
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David Beckham is Kirsty Young's guest as Desert Island Discs celebrates its 75th Anniversary. As a professional footballer he's the only Englishman to win the league titles in England, Spain, the US and France. He spent the bulk of his career as a midfielder for Manchester United, winning the Treble - Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League - in 1999, before moving to Real Madrid in 2003. He headed to the US to play for LA Galaxy in 2007, and ended his career at Paris Saint-Germain in 2013, retiring in May that year. Born and raised in East London, the middle child of Ted and Sandra, David Beckham discovered football early and spent hours kicking a ball around at the local park with his father. At the age of seven, he played for his first team, Ridgeway Rovers, before coming to the attention of Manchester United while attending the Bobby Charlton Soccer School. He became a trainee with Manchester United in 1991, and progressed to make 265 first team appearances, winning the Premier League six times, the FA Cup twice and the UEFA Champions League once. He played for England from 1996 to 2009 and captained the side for six years. He has been married to Victoria Adams - known as Posh from the Spice Girls - since 1999 and they have four children. Since retiring from professional football in 2013, David has spent more time on his work with UNICEF which he has supported since 2005. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Kirsty Young celebrates 75 years of Desert Island Discs with some of the wonderful voices in the archive and chooses some of her favourite interviews from her 10 years as presenter. From Dustin Hoffman to Maya Angelou, Stephen Hawking to Victoria Wood, we have glimpses into the castaways' lives and times. Coronation Street stalwart, Betty Driver explains why she chose a song she hates to take with her to the island, Dawn French recalls the infamous 'puddle' scene in the Vicar of Dibley and legendary broadcaster Richard Dimbleby describes his very early days in broadcasting. Cilla Black, interviewed in 1964, describes how her career began, Ian Fleming talks about the early days of James Bond and Louis Armstrong reveals how he first began playing the trumpet. Extracts from the programmes of all the previous presenters - Roy Plomley, Sue Lawley and Sir Michael Parkinson - include the voices of Baroness Barbara Castle, Alfred Wainwright, Russell Harty, Jacqueline de Pre, Catherine Cookson and Lady Thatcher. Kirsty's favourite moments include Noel Gallagher remembering being forced to dance at his wedding, Sarah Millican explaining why she chose the Frog Chorus and Sir David Attenborough's choice of disc - the Lyre Bird. Castaways also explain their choice of luxury, introduce a diverse selection of their choice of discs and describe what they would do to survive on the desert island. Producer: Cathy Drysdale Made for BBC Radio 4 Extra.
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Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the writer Caitlin Moran. A columnist for The Times newspaper for 25 years, she's published five books and co-wrote the Channel 4 sitcom Raised by Wolves. The eldest of eight children, and raised on benefits on a council estate in Wolverhampton, she was taken out of school by her parents aged eleven and educated herself at the library and by watching television, reading all the classics and learning from popular culture. She started writing early and after winning several writing competitions, her first novel, The Chronicles of Narmo, was published when she was just sixteen. She became a music journalist for Melody Maker and, not long after that, started writing regular columns for The Times covering everything from politics and feminism to musings on her own background. She is currently finishing her sixth book and writing several film scripts. She has been married to the music journalist Peter Paphides since 1999 and they have two daughters. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Kirsty Young's castaway is the choreographer Wayne McGregor. Despite his background in contemporary dance, he has been resident choreographer at the Royal Ballet - the first from outside the company - for the past ten years. He has brought to Covent Garden a fascination with technology, a passion for collaborative efforts with visual artists and musicians, and he is renowned for drawing inspiration particularly from the field of science. Born in Stockport in 1970 to Scottish parents, he was inspired by the John Travolta films he watched and took ballroom, disco and Latin American dance classes. After studying choreography at the University of Leeds and spending a year at the José Limón dance school in New York, he returned to the UK and at the age of 22, founded his own company. He made his first professional piece in 1993, and choreographed Dame Judi Dench in Sondheim's A Little Night Music at the National Theatre in 1995. He received his first commission from the Royal Ballet in 2000 and it was his 2006 work Chroma which clinched him the job as resident choreographer. He works on a wide range of projects away from the stage, including films, music videos, and opening and awards ceremonies, and continues to choreograph for his own company and others around the world including Paris Opera Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, La Scala Milan, New York City Ballet and the Australian Ballet. He has won numerous prizes for his work, including two Olivier Awards, and was appointed a CBE for Services to Dance in 2011. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Pinky Lilani, who was awarded a CBE in 2015 for services to women in business, is the founder of the annual Asian Women of Achievement Awards and the Women of the Future Awards. She also runs her own company, which uses Indian food as a means of team-building, and has published two cook books. Pinky was born in Calcutta, now Kolkata, where her parents were affluent and very sociable. They employed one of the best cooks in the city, so Pinky grew up surrounded by people and food. While she enjoyed eating, she had no experience of cooking. When she moved to London with her husband, who she married three weeks after their first meeting, she was unable to cook. After many culinary disasters, she returned to India and the kitchen in her family home, where the household cook shared his expertise. Back in the UK, she started teaching evening cookery classes which in turn led to a role consulting for one of Britain's best-known food companies, who manufacture Asian staples including chutneys, breads and curry pastes. In 2001, she published her first cookery book and set up in business to satisfy the two great loves of her life: food and people. In 1999, she founded the Asian Women of Achievement Awards and seven years later she added the Women of the Future Awards to her portfolio. Both of these have continued to be held annually, drawing high-profile support from, among others, Theresa May, Cherie Blair, the Duchess of York and the Countess of Wessex. Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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Sir Kenneth Grange is a designer. He's been designing elements of our everyday lives for the past six decades. Born in London in 1929, he went to Willesden art school aged fourteen and four years later he left and embarked on a remarkable career. He is still working today at 87 years old. "Why would I stop? I mean, if a bloke can play the piano, you don't stop him playing it, do you?" His long career stretches from the early days of modernism to the digital age. One of his first big jobs was working for the Festival of Britain in 1951. He was co-founder of the design studio Pentagram, led a life with strong echoes of TV's "Mad Men" for a while, and his work has infused the texture of the UK. His designs include the first parking meter, the Intercity 125 train, the Kenwood mixer, the Morphy Richards iron, the Wilkinson triple razor, bus shelters, the black cab, the Parker 25 pen and the Anglepoise lamp. He's also the reason we no longer get wet when we fill our cars with petrol: he designed petrol station forecourts with roofs. In 2013 he was knighted for his services to design, and in 2016 an Intercity 125 was named Sir Kenneth Grange. Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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Gareth Malone is a choirmaster who has coaxed and cajoled people from nervous adults to reluctant teenagers to open their mouths and sing for the pure joy of it - in front of television cameras. Gareth's first two TV series, which charted his attempts to build successful choirs in schools with little or no tradition of singing together, both won major awards, and gripped and inspired viewers. He has since also worked widely on TV with adult groups from a wide range of backgrounds, and his Military Wives Choir even hit the top of the charts at Christmas. Once described as a human tuning fork, Gareth loved music from an early age - and as he recalls, his parents and grandmother took a strong interest in his own youthful performances, from his very first school concerts. As a teenager, he felt an outsider amongst his fellow pupils, because he found his music teacher so inspiring. After time spent as a youth worker, and as a music educator, Gareth's TV series have taken him all over the country becoming - in his words - "an evangelist for music.".
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Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Bruce Springsteen. His career has brought him 20 Grammys, two Golden Globes, an Academy Award and his albums sell in their millions around the world. He grew up in New Jersey where the Catholic church played a central role in his early life. The family teetered on the brink of poverty, and his first guitar was rented, rather than bought. He spent his apprentice years as a musician and singer with local bands before landing a record deal in 1972. When 'Born to Run' was released in 1975 it turned him into a household name. His first Top Ten single was 'Hungry Heart', ahead of his most successful album 'Born in the USA' which was released in 1984. In spite of having long transcended the environment he grew up in, Springsteen has remained a chronicler of blue-collar lives. His records are frequently a political commentary on the struggles of ordinary Americans. In the Nineties he settled into family life with his wife Patti Scialfa who sings with his E Street Band. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
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Sir Philip Craven is the President of the International Paralympic Committee and a former wheelchair basketball athlete. Craven represented Great Britain in wheelchair basketball at five editions of the Paralympic Games, from 1972 to 1988. He also competed in track and field athletics and swimming at the 1972 Games. He won gold at the wheelchair basketball World Championships in 1973, and bronze in 1975, as well as two gold medals (1971, 1974) and a silver (1993) at the European Championships. He also won gold at the European Champions Cup in 1994, and gold at the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games in 1970. Sir Philip Craven has been passionate about sport all his life. He was born in Bolton and educated at the University of Manchester, where he graduated with a geography degree in 1972. He grew up the younger of two boys to parents Herbert and Hilda who ran a floristry shop. He spent his childhood playing lots of cricket, climbing trees and trainspotting. Then when he was sixteen, he fell whilst rock climbing and broke his back. He was paralysed from the chest down and lost the use of his legs. He became a wheelchair user, went on to university and became a wheelchair basketball player. He met his French wife, Joscelyne when he was working as a sports trainer in Brittany. They have been married for 42 years and have two children and three grandsons. Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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Davina McCall is an English television presenter. She began her career on MTV before moving to Channel 4 with the cult hit Streetmate. She was the presenter of Big Brother during its run on Channel 4 between 2000 and 2010 and enjoyed it so much that she planned her family around the transmission schedule. All three of her children were born in September. Davina hosts a variety of prime time and popular programmes including ITV's Long Lost Family which seeks to reunite family members. Her own childhood was complicated. Her French mother was an alcoholic and drug user, and Davina was largely brought up by her father and grandparents. After a difficult childhood, she moved to London with her father and step-mother, and during some wild teenage years, she became a drug user. She has been clean since she was 25. Alongside her television presenting career, she has a large following with her fitness DVDs and healthy food cookbooks. In 2014, she undertook a 500 mile triathlon for Sport Relief raising more than two million pounds. Producer: Sarah Taylor.
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Emma Bridgewater is a British ceramic designer and businesswoman. She set up her pottery business in 1985 in Stoke-on-Trent, when many other manufacturers in the city were eith