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
    • 4.6 • 444 Ratings

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

    Ellie Simmonds, swimmer

    Ellie Simmonds, swimmer

    Ellie Simmonds has competed at four Paralympic Games, winning five gold medals and breaking world records on the way. She first came to national attention at the age of 13, when she won two golds at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics, and became the youngest person ever to be awarded an MBE a few months later.

    Ellie is the youngest of five children and was born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. Swimming was central to her life from a very early age, and her ambition to compete at the highest level was sparked by watching the Athens 2004 Paralympics on TV at the age of nine, when her mother told her she could take part at any age, as long as she was good enough.

    She became the face of the London 2012 Paralympics and won a further two gold medals, followed by another gold in Rio in 2016. Shortly after taking part in the Tokyo Paralympics last year, she announced her retirement from competitive swimming at the age of 26.

    She recently presented TV documentaries on conservation and on the controversies surrounding drug treatments for achondroplasia.

    DISC ONE: Proud by Heather Small
    DISC TWO: Own It by Stormzy ft Ed Sheeran and Burna Boy
    DISC THREE: Toxic by Britney Spears
    DISC FOUR: Lose Yourself by Eminem
    DISC FIVE: Paradise by Coldplay
    DISC SIX: Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves
    DISC SEVEN: Unforgettable by French Montana feat. Swae Lee
    DISC EIGHT: Rocket Man by Elton John

    BOOK CHOICE: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
    LUXURY ITEM: A diary and pen
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Rocket Man by Elton John

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

    • 34 min
    Bradley Walsh, presenter and actor

    Bradley Walsh, presenter and actor

    Bradley Walsh is a familiar face to many millions of TV viewers, as the host of quiz shows including The Chase and Blankety-Blank, and as an actor in dramas such as Doctor Who and The Larkins.

    Bradley was born in Watford and after leaving school at 16 he was apprenticed to the local Rolls-Royce factory as a jet engineer. A keen footballer, he signed to Brentford FC when he was 19 but his career was cut short by injury after only two seasons with the club.

    He dealt with this blow by turning his attention to the entertainment business. He worked as a Pontin’s bluecoat and then tried his luck as a stand-up comedian - doing impressions and telling jokes at working men’s clubs. In 1986 he turned professional, and his first booking was a stint at the Pavilion Theatre on Cromer Pier. Later he became the support act for performers including Dame Shirley Bassey, Leo Sayer and Sir Tom Jones.

    In 1997 he hosted the quiz show Wheel of Fortune and three years later got his first acting role in the Channel 4 series Lock Stock….a spin-off from Guy Ritchie’s 1998 feature film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He followed this up with roles in Coronation Street, Law & Order: UK and Doctor Who

    Bradley released his debut album Chasing Dreams, featuring his interpretations of popular standards, in 2016. In that year it became the biggest-selling debut album by a British artist.

    Bradley lives in Essex with his wife Donna and their son Barney who appears alongside him in the television series Bradley & Barney Walsh: Breaking Dad.

    DISC ONE: Life on Mars? by David Bowie
    DISC TWO: March of the Mods by Joe Loss Orchestra
    DISC THREE: Bye Bye Baby by Bay City Rollers
    DISC FOUR: I’m Mandy Fly Me by 10cc
    DISC FIVE: Firefly by Tony Bennett
    DISC SIX: The Hungry Years by Neil Sedaka
    DISC SEVEN: Always and Forever by Heatwave
    DISC EIGHT: That’s Life (Remastered 2008) by Frank Sinatra

    BOOK CHOICE: The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas
    LUXURY ITEM: A set of golf clubs and balls
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Always and Forever by Heatwave

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

    • 35 min
    Fiona Hill, foreign affairs specialist

    Fiona Hill, foreign affairs specialist

    Fiona Hill is a foreign affairs specialist who advised Presidents George W Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. She came to wider public attention in 2019 when she testified against President Trump during his first impeachment.

    Fiona was born in Bishop Auckland, County Durham. Her father was a former coal miner who worked as a hospital porter and her mother was a midwife. After graduating in Russian and History from St Andrews University, she won a scholarship to read Soviet Studies at Harvard. She spent the next three decades establishing herself as a policy expert on Russia.

    In 2017 she joined the National Security Council at the White House as deputy assistant to President Trump and senior director for Europe and Russia. She left the administration in 2019 and later that year she testified to the US Congress as a witness in the hearings which led up to Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020.

    Fiona’s performance and North East accent caused a stir and her personal story was discussed in American newspapers and on television. Strangers in the street thanked her, but she also received death threats from people who opposed the observations she recounted during her testimony.

    Fiona is a senior research fellow at the Brookings Institution, a think tank based in Washington DC. She became an American citizen in 2002.

    DISC ONE: Message in a Bottle by The Police
    DISC TWO: It’s only a Paper Moon by Ella Fitzgerald
    DISC THREE: Ghost Town by The Specials
    DISC FOUR: The Passenger by Iggy Pop
    DISC FIVE: Goodbye America by Nautilus Pompilius
    DISC SIX: On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons
    DISC SEVEN: Hypersonic Missiles by Sam Fender
    DISC EIGHT: This is the Day by The The

    BOOK CHOICE: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
    Fiona writes about how her dad saved up to buy the Encyclopaedia Britannica – you’ll find the story in the Background section.
    LUXURY ITEM: Crystallised ginger
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: This is the Day by The The

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

    • 35 min
    Desert Island Discoveries - Lauren Laverne and Vick Hope

    Desert Island Discoveries - Lauren Laverne and Vick Hope

    Lauren shares handpicked gems from the Desert Island Discs back-catalogue with Radio 1 presenter Vick Hope, including Bob Mortimer, Maya Angelou, Joe Wicks, Sophia Loren, Tom Hanks, Dame Pat McGrath and Sinéad Burke.

    • 30 min
    Classic Desert Island Discs - George Michael

    Classic Desert Island Discs - George Michael

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is George Michael, in a programme first broadcast in 2007. As a singer and songwriter he has enjoyed massive global success for a quarter of a century. He's sold more than 100 million records, won two Grammy awards and notched up countless number one hits.

    His ability to write, produce, and perform perfect pop songs is unquestioned. But along with the career highs, there have been lows too: he lost a long wrangle with his record company, was crippled by bereavement and for years questions about his sexuality were a matter of newspaper headlines until he was spectacularly outed a decade ago. In a rare interview, George Michael talks candidly to Kirsty Young about how he regained his emotional and professional confidence - and is now a happier and more peaceful man.

    [Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

    Favourite track: Love is a Losing Game by Amy Winehouse
    Book: Any book of short stories by Doris Lessing
    Luxury: DB9 car.

    • 36 min
    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

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
444 Ratings

444 Ratings

Janinehw ,

By definition

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the phrase desert island as a remote, uninhabited, tropical island. One meaning provided for de sert’ is to callously or treacherously abandon. ;)
I appreciate the diversity of interests your guests represent. I suspect most if not all of them would have stories worth listening to whatever their chosen vocations and avocations. They are people who were fortunate to find their purpose in life.

linda murry ,

Really good

A Facebook group actually turned me on to your lovely podcast ( the only good thing to come out of FB really). Very charming, heartfelt, and endearing. It’s like a really great movie/biography. I enjoy this and wouldn’t even mind hearing one show done from common folk. The hosts have the ability to capture the pictures and soundtracks of life brilliantly 🌺🔥 I am glad to have found this treasure!

Da Suze ,

From Vancouver, Canada

Exactly, nick mick.
To DID, it would be wonderful it the music wasn’t cut off Otherwise, excellent, thx.

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