300 episodes

Eight tracks, a book and a luxury: what would you take to a desert island? Guests share the soundtrack of their lives.

Desert Island Discs BBC Radio 4

    • Society & Culture
    • 5.0 • 15 Ratings

Eight tracks, a book and a luxury: what would you take to a desert island? Guests share the soundtrack of their lives.

    Classic Desert Island Discs - Maya Angelou

    Classic Desert Island Discs - Maya Angelou

    The writer Maya Angelou talks to Michael Parkinson, in a programme first broadcast in 1988. Maya Angelou died in 2014, at the age of 86.

    • 27 min
    Classic Desert Island Discs - June Brown

    Classic Desert Island Discs - June Brown

    Kirsty Young talks to June Brown, in a programme first broadcast in 2017. June died at the age of 95 on 3rd April 2022. June enjoyed a very long acting career, initially on stage, and she was best known for her role as the long-suffering chain-smoking Dot Cotton (later Dot Branning) in the BBC TV soap EastEnders. She joined EastEnders on a three-month contract in 1985 and announced her departure in 2020. Producer: Sarah Taylor

    • 36 min
    Classic Desert Island Discs - Jens Stoltenberg

    Classic Desert Island Discs - Jens Stoltenberg

    Jens Stoltenberg is the Secretary General of NATO and a former Prime Minister of Norway.

    Although he was born into a political family in Norway, he grew up thinking he would become a statistician, before turning to a career in politics.

    He served as the Prime Minister of Norway twice. During his second term, Norway experienced one of the darkest days in its recent history, when 77 people were murdered in a bomb attack in Oslo and a mass shooting on a nearby island.

    Before becoming the Secretary General of NATO, a post he has held since 2014, he spent time as a UN Special Envoy on climate change. His term in office as Secretary-General has been extended until September 2023.

    DISC ONE: Lift Me by Madrugada and Ane Brun
    DISC TWO: No Harm by Smerz
    DISC THREE: So Long, Marianne by Leonard Cohen
    DISC FOUR: Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen
    DISC FIVE: Make You Feel My Love by Ane Brun
    DISC SIX: Til Ungdommen by Ingebjørg Bratland
    DISC SEVEN: Free Nelson Mandela by The Special A.K.A.
    DISC EIGHT: From Up Here by Ingrid Olava

    BOOK CHOICE: A statistics textbook
    LUXURY ITEM: A pair of skis
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Til Ungdommen by Ingebjørg Bratland

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Sarah Taylor
    (First broadcast in 2020)

    Photo credit: NATO

    • 35 min
    Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Unaids

    Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Unaids

    Winnie Byanyima is a human rights advocate and executive director of Unaids, the joint UN Programme which was set up to eradicate Aids as a threat to public health by 2030.

    Winnie was born in the village of Ruti, in south west Uganda, where her teacher parents raised her and her siblings to follow their example of doing good things for others. From an early age Winnie adopted the family motto of ‘truth and justice’.

    Winnie fled the country in 1978, during the regime of President Idi Amin, and came to the UK as a refugee. She won a scholarship to study aeronautical engineering at Manchester University, graduating in 1981. She returned home where she found a job as an engineer for Ugandan Airlines while secretly working for Yoweri Museveni’s resistance movement that opposed Amin’s successor, Milton Obote.

    In 1994 Winnie was elected as an MP in the Ugandan Parliament and was instrumental in drawing up a new constitution for the country. In 2013 she was appointed executive director of Oxfam International and became executive director of Unaids in 2019. She currently lives in Geneva.

    DISC ONE: Sanyu Lyange by Juliana Kanyomozi
    DISC TWO: Cantata No. 147: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by New London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski, with the Norman Luboff Choir
    DISC THREE: Le Bûcheron by Franklin Boukaka
    DISC FOUR: Heart of Glass by Blondie
    DISC FIVE: Umqombothi by Yvonne Chaka Chaka
    DISC SIX: Steal Away (Remastered) by Nat King Cole
    DISC SEVEN: Don't Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin
    DISC EIGHT: I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free by Nina Simone

    BOOK CHOICE: The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir
    LUXURY ITEM: A basket weaving needle
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free by Nina Simone

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

    • 35 min
    Alan Cumming, actor

    Alan Cumming, actor

    Alan Cumming's wide-ranging career on stage includes playing Hamlet, starring opposite Daniel Radcliffe in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame and – perhaps most notably - taking the role of the Emcee in the musical Cabaret in London and New York to great acclaim: his 1998 Broadway performance won seven awards, including a Tony. He’s also appeared in films including GoldenEye and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, and in the TV series The Good Wife.

    Alan was born in Perthshire in 1965. His father was a forester and the family moved to the Panmure estate on the east coast of Scotland. Encouraged by his English teacher, Alan grew up loving drama at school but his childhood was blighted by his violent and abusive father. He worked for the publisher DC Thomson as a sub-editor before going to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. There he launched his performing career with fellow student Forbes Masson: together they were Victor and Barry, a comedy and music double-act. They drew on these characters for their BBC TV sit-com The High Life, based around a fictional Scottish airline.

    Alan has published a novel and three memoirs: his 2014 autobiography Not My Father’s Son detailed his very difficult relationship with his father, both in his early years and later in his life.

    In 2022 Alan is developing a solo dance-theatre work, focusing on the personal history of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, which he will perform in Scotland and New York. He’s now also the co-owner of a bar, Club Cumming, in Manhattan.

    DISC ONE: Dignity by Deacon Blue
    DISC TWO: L’Amour Looks Something Like You by Kate Bush
    DISC THREE: Barcelona by Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballé
    DISC FOUR: I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers
    DISC FIVE: Whenever Wherever Whatever by Maxwell
    DISC SIX: Give Me Back My Heart by Dollar
    DISC SEVEN: Catalani: La Wally : Ebben? ne andrò lontana Act 1 by Maria Callas and Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Tullio Serafin
    DISC EIGHT: These Are My Mountains by Peter Morrison

    BOOK CHOICE: Desert Gardening for Beginners: How to grow vegetables, flowers, and herbs in an Arid Climate by Cathy Cromell, Linda A. Guy, Lucy K. Bradley
    LUXURY ITEM: Marijuana seeds
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Give Me Back My Heart by Dollar

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

    • 35 min
    Robert Plant, singer and songwriter

    Robert Plant, singer and songwriter

    Robert Plant is a singer and songwriter who was Led Zeppelin’s frontman from the band’s inception in 1968 until it disbanded in 1980. Led Zeppelin sold hundreds of millions of albums and in their heyday acquired a reputation for unbridled rock ‘n’ roll hedonism. Since 1980 Robert has gone on to achieve success as a solo artist and has collaborated with other musicians, notably the bluegrass singer Alison Krauss. Their 2007 album Raising Sand won five Grammy Awards.

    Robert was born in West Bromwich in 1948. At 15 he appeared on stage for the first time as the lead vocalist for a local band after the regular singer fell ill. In 1965 he started performing with the Crawling King Snakes and it was after one of the band’s gigs that he met his friend, the drummer John Bonham.

    In 1968 Robert and John joined up with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones to form Led Zeppelin. Later that year the band embarked on its first US tour and the enthusiastic response from American audiences heralded a new force in British music. Over the next 12 years the band released eight studio albums including Led Zeppelin IV which featured one of their most popular tracks – Stairway to Heaven.

    In 1980 John Bonham died from alcohol poisoning at the age of 32 and Led Zeppelin broke up. Devastated by his friend’s death, Robert took himself off to explore other creative avenues, recording and performing with a wide range of artists.

    Robert and Alison Krauss released their second album, Raising the Roof, in 2021.

    Robert lives in Worcestershire near where he grew up. He is a committed fan of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Black Country homing pigeons.

    DISC ONE: Pink Peg Slacks by Eddie Cochrane
    DISC TWO: Serenade by Mario Lanza
    DISC THREE: I Ain’t Superstitious by Howlin’ Wolf
    DISC FOUR: Teenage Ska by Baba Brooks
    DISC FIVE: Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
    DISC SIX: Raha Gardishon Mein Hardam by Mohammed Rafi
    DISC SEVEN: Diaraby by Ali Farka Touré with Ry Cooder
    DISC EIGHT: Your Long Journey by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

    BOOK CHOICE: The Earliest English Poems, translated by Michael Alexander
    LUXURY ITEM: A basket containing photos of homing pigeons
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Serenade by Mario Lanza

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

    • 35 min

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15 Ratings

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