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

    • Personal Journals

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

    Melanie C

    Melanie C

    Melanie Chisholm - known as Melanie C - is a singer and songwriter who found global fame as one fifth of the Spice Girls, the most commercially successful female group ever.

    Melanie was one of 400 other hopefuls who answered an advertisement to form a new girl band in 1994 - little knowing how her life would be turned upside down by fame and worldwide success. She was given the nickname Sporty Spice and presented what she calls a "gobby' persona to the outside world, but inside she was a shy girl who preferred to stay in the background.

    She grew up in Merseyside and as a child she loved performing. At 16 she attended the Doreen Bird College of Arts, aiming for a career in musical theatre. By her early 20s, she was an international star: Spice world was a high-octane life of constant recording and touring and the accompanying press scrutiny contributed to a stressful environment. As the pressure intensified Melanie suffered from eating disorders and in 2000 she was diagnosed with depression. Her recovery was long and painful but she says finally getting a diagnosis enabled her to begin the process of getting better.

    When the Spice Girls went their separate ways for a while Melanie began a career as a successful solo artist. In 2009 she played Mrs Johnstone in the West End production of Willy Russell's musical Blood Brothers, earning five star reviews and standing ovations. Recently she has been back on stage with the Spice Girls on their stadium tour.

    DISC ONE: I Wish by Stevie Wonder
    DISC TWO: The Chain by Fleetwood Mac
    DISC THREE: Prince Charming by Adam and the Ants
    DISC FOUR: Into the Groove by Madonna
    DISC FIVE: Girls and Boys by Blur
    DISC SIX: Everything I Wanted by Billie Eilish
    DISC SEVEN: Heaven on Their Minds by Tim Minchin
    DISC EIGHT: You'll Never Walk Alone by Gerry & The Pacemakers

    BOOK CHOICE: Dancing with Demons: The Authorised Biography of Dusty Springfield by Penny Valentine and Vicki Wickham
    LUXURY ITEM: A Martin acoustic guitar
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: I Wish by Stevie Wonder

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

    • 41 min
    Ian Wright, former footballer and broadcaster

    Ian Wright, former footballer and broadcaster

    Ian Wright is a former professional footballer and now a football pundit on TV and radio. He began his career at Crystal Palace before moving to Arsenal where he became their highest goal scorer of all time, a record only surpassed eight years later by Thierry Henry.

    Born to a Jamaican couple in south-east London, Ian grew up with his mother and step-father. His biological father had left the family when Ian was under two years old. Things at home were difficult and Ian spent as much time as possible outside playing football.

    At his primary school a teacher, Mr Pigden, took him under his wing and Ian would later credit him with changing his life. He left his secondary school at the age of 14 to get a job. Although he took part in trials for many professional football clubs as a teenager, he was never selected. He continued to play for amateur sides. By the age of 21, he had three children to provide for, so when Crystal Palace came calling in 1985, he turned them down three times before accepting a two-week trial, followed by a three-month contract. His football career had finally begun.

    After impressing as a forward at Palace, he was bought by Arsenal for a record fee in 1991. He was called up to the England squad the same year and would go on to collect 33 caps. He spent his last couple of years in professional football at a number of clubs around the country and in total, he played 581 league games, scoring 387 goals for seven clubs in England and Scotland. Since his retirement from football in 2000, he has had a career as a pundit on both TV and radio.

    He has eight children and has been happily married to his second wife, Nancy, since 2011.

    DISC ONE: The Marriage of Figaro: Duettino - Sull'aria by Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin, composed by Lorenzo Da Ponte and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
    DISC TWO: Looking For You by Kirk Franklin
    DISC THREE: River Deep Mountain High by Ike and Tina Turner
    DISC FOUR: Redemption Song by Bob Marley & The Wailers
    DISC FIVE: Mysteries of the World by MSFB
    DISC SIX: Endlessly by Randy Crawford
    DISC SEVEN: Crown by Stormzy
    DISC EIGHT: Just Fine by Mary J Blige

    BOOK CHOICE: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
    LUXURY ITEM: A seven iron golf club and golf balls
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Endlessly by Randy Crawford

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Cathy Drysdale

    • 46 min
    Zoe Ball, broadcaster

    Zoe Ball, broadcaster

    Zoe Ball is a radio and television presenter. She became the first woman to present the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show in 1997, and then the first woman to present the Radio 2 Breakfast Show in 2019.

    Zoe grew up in Buckinghamshire with her father – TV presenter Johnny Ball – and her stepmother. After working behind the scenes in TV as a runner and researcher, she first moved into the spotlight hosting children's programmes, including the very successful BBC Saturday morning show Live & Kicking, with Jamie Theakston. In the late 1990s, coinciding with her move to the Radio 1 Breakfast Show, she found herself described in the press as a 'ladette', enjoying the partying culture of the time. Further headlines followed her marriage to superstar DJ Norman Cook - Fatboy Slim - in 1999. She decided to leave Radio 1 in 2000, and her first child, Woody, was born later that year. She and Norman announced their separation in 2016.

    Zoe was a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing, and has presented Strictly: It Takes Two since 2011. In 2018, she cycled 350 miles from Blackpool to Brighton as part of Sport Relief, and to raise awareness of mental health, after her partner Billy Yates took his own life. She began presenting the Radio 2 Breakfast Show just over a year ago.

    She lives in Sussex with her two children, Woody and Nelly.

    DISC ONE: Where Am I Going? by Barbra Streisand
    DISC TWO: Georgy Porgy (Disco Version) by Toto feat. Cheryl Lynn
    DISC THREE: Righteous by Ocean Wisdom feat. Rodney P & Roots Manuva
    DISC FOUR: Shoot You Down by The Stone Roses
    DISC FIVE: Love Having You Around by First Choice
    DISC SIX: Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) by Frank Wilson
    DISC SEVEN: Truth by Kamasi Washington
    DISC EIGHT: You Can't Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones

    BOOK CHOICE: A dictionary
    LUXURY ITEM: A potting shed, gardening tools and seeds
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Truth by Kamasi Washington

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Sarah Taylor

    • 38 min
    Sonita Alleyne, Master of Jesus College, Cambridge

    Sonita Alleyne, Master of Jesus College, Cambridge

    Sonita Alleyne is the Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, the first woman to hold the post and - more significantly - the first black master of any Oxbridge college. In her previous career in the media, she was the co-founder and former CEO of the production company Somethin’ Else.

    Born in Barbados, she came to England aged three and grew up in East London, the youngest of three children. She was an able reader by the time she started primary school, and her potential was spotted at her secondary school, where she was encouraged to apply to Cambridge.

    She read philosophy at Fitzwilliam College and, after a brief and unfulfilling spell selling life insurance, she followed her passion for jazz by starting to write for music magazines. In 1989 she joined the radio station Jazz FM. When she was made redundant a couple of years later, she and two former Jazz FM colleagues set up a production company they called Somethin’ Else.

    Sonita stepped down as CEO in 2009 to concentrate on other boardroom roles. She served on the BBC Trust for nearly five years, sits on the board of the London Legacy Development Corporation, and founded the Yes Programme to show primary school pupils their future career options. She is a fellow of the Radio Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts.

    Sonita began her ten year tenure as Master of Jesus College in October 2019. She lives in Cambridge with her partner, the screenwriter James McCarthy, and their teenage son.

    DISC ONE: I’ve Known Rivers by Gary Bartz & NTU Troop
    DISC TWO: Les Fleurs by Minnie Riperton
    DISC THREE: Key To The World by L J Reynolds
    DISC FOUR: Martha by Tom Waits
    DISC FIVE: Tennessee by Arrested Development
    DISC SIX: To Forgive But Not Forget by Outside
    DISC SEVEN: Last Train to Clarksville by Cassandra Wilson
    DISC EIGHT: Swing Low Sweet Chariot by Marvin “Hannibal” Peterson

    BOOK CHOICE: Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje
    LUXURY ITEM:A genie in a lamp which would only work within the confines of the island
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE:Les Fleurs by Minnie Riperton

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Cathy Drysdale

    • 39 min
    Anne Enright, writer

    Anne Enright, writer

    Anne Enright won the Booker Prize for her fourth novel, The Gathering, in 2007, and was appointed the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction in 2015. She has written seven novels, two collections of short stories and a book of essays about motherhood and her work has been widely translated.

    Born in Dublin in 1962, Anne is the youngest of five children. She was a voracious reader from an early age, finishing every children's book at her local library. When she was 16, she won a scholarship to study at a school in Canada, and then returned to Ireland for a degree in English and Philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin. After taking an MA in Creative Writing at University of East Anglia, with teaching from Angela Carter and Malcolm Bradbury, she worked for six years as a TV producer for the Irish broadcaster RTE. When her TV work left her feeling burned out, she began her writing career in earnest. Her book of short stories, The Portable Virgin, won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 1991, and she published her first novel, The Wig My Father Wore, in 1995. Her latest novel, The Actress, is published in February 2020.

    She is also now a Professor at University College Dublin and teaches creative writing. She met her theatre director husband, Martin Murphy, at university and they have two children.

    DISC ONE: Brahms Intermezzos: Op. 117, No.1 by Glenn Gould
    DISC TWO: Jersey Girl by Tom Waits
    DISC THREE: A Case Of You by Joni Mitchell
    DISC FOUR: Then You’ll Remember Me by Dé Danann
    DISC FIVE: The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash
    DISC SIX: Hiawatha by Laurie Anderson
    DISC SEVEN: Tower of Song by Leonard Cohen
    DISC EIGHT: Soave sia il vento from Cosi fan Tutte, composed by Mozart, conducted by Karl Böhm, performed by Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Walter Berry, Christa Ludwig and Philharmonia Orchestra.

    BOOK CHOICE: 'In Search of Lost Time’ by Marcel Proust
    LUXURY ITEM: High thread-count cotton sheets
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Soave sia il vento from Cosi fan Tutte, composed by Mozart

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Cathy Drysdale

    • 37 min
    Dame Sue Campbell, Director Women's Football at the FA

    Dame Sue Campbell, Director Women's Football at the FA

    Dame Sue Campbell is the Director of Women’s Football at the Football Association. The women’s game has become increasingly popular recently and last year the England team - the Lionesses - made it to the World Cup semi-finals.

    Born in 1948, just outside Nottingham, Sue was sporty from an early age, even changing schools to allow her to play football. She became a PE teacher in Manchester and realised how transformative sport could be, increasing self-esteem, motivation and self-belief.

    In the mid-1980s, after learning about excellence in sport at Loughborough University and playing netball for England as well as dabbling in the pentathlon, Sue became deputy chief executive (and a year later chief executive) of the National Coaching Foundation, which provided education for coaches at both ends of the spectrum, from parent volunteers to elite coaches.

    Ten years later, in 1995, she co-founded the Youth Sport Trust to set up a sports activity programme for every primary school in the country. It was hugely successful: in 2003 only 23% of school children were getting two hours of PE a week. By 2008, this figure had risen to 95%. In 2010, the coalition government cut their funding.

    By this time, back at the elite end of the sporting spectrum, Sue was also in charge of UK Sport, where she presided over Team GB's biggest Olympic medal haul in living memory, at the London 2012 games. In 2016, she took her current job as head of Women’s Football at the FA. She has also been a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords since 2008.

    BOOK CHOICE: The Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela
    LUXURY ITEM: A photo album
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Music Of My Heart by Gloria Estefan And *N SYNC

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Cathy Drysdale

    • 52 min

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