167 episodes

Guests are invited to choose the eight records they would take to a desert island.

Desert Island Discs: Archive 2011-2014 BBC

    • Society & Culture

Guests are invited to choose the eight records they would take to a desert island.

    The Most Reverend Justin Welby

    The Most Reverend Justin Welby

    Kirsty Young's castaway for Christmas week is The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby.

    Ordained as a priest in 1993, 19 years later he was appointed to lead the Anglican communion of over 77 million people spread across 167 countries. Hardly a front runner when the job vacancy came up he said that it would be "a joke" and "perfectly absurd" if he were appointed.

    His faith has brought him high office but when he 'found God' at university, it gave him something a good deal more significant: a sense of much needed comfort after an often turbulent and uncertain childhood. Although his mother's side of the family provided stability, his father was an alcoholic and his childhood was punctuated by his parents' early divorce and significant money worries - one particular Christmas was spent hungrily staring out of the window as his father lay in bed all day.

    He says, "When the church is working it is the most mind-bogglingly, amazingly, extraordinarily beautiful community on earth. It heals, it transforms, it loves, and it changes society."

    Producer: Cathy Drysdale.

    • 38 min
    Sarah Millican

    Sarah Millican

    From Paul McCartney to Wham!

    Comedian Sarah Millican shares her castaway choices with Kirsty Young.

    Her every woman yet no-holds-barred style of comedy has brought her sell-out tours and several of her own highly successful TV series. Revelling in normality and drawing on the difficult, intimate and ofter extruciating moments of being human, she dares to say what most of us are thinking, only she's much funnier.

    A Geordie, born in South Shields, her dad was an engineer down the mines and her mum was a hairdresser. They encouraged their daughter in her storytelling and performing even though her childhood shyness meant she'd recite her poetry from behind the living room curtains.

    Later it was pain that first propelled her onto the stage when a broken early marriage provided the catalyst she needed to find the courage to confront the glaring judgement of the audience's gaze. Her rise was then rapid. Within four years she was awarded the Best Newcomer prize at the Edinburgh Fringe.

    She says, "People come along and think, 'oh she's being too rude'. They don't realise I'm just like this at home. People think I'm prim and proper at home but I'm not - I'm just me transplanted onto the stage".

    First broadcast on BBC Radio 4 December 2014.

    • 34 min
    Julie Bentley

    Julie Bentley

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the Chief Executive of the Guide Association, Julie Bentley - or, more accurately, Girlguiding.

    The name change is surely a clue to the evolving nature of an organisation determined to be relevant and useful to girls in the 21st century. Indeed being relevant and useful is how Julie Bentley has spent her entire working life. From her early efforts at an HIV charity to running the Family Planning Association she says her passion lies with helping young people develop confidence and direction.

    Never a Brownie or Girl Guide herself, she was brought up in what she describes as "a happy working class family in Essex" and it took her a little while to find her own self assurance and sense of purpose. A painfully shy child, who was bullied at primary school, she later went on to become Head Girl, but left school with very few qualifications. In her 30s she used a bequest from her mother to fund her Master's degree.

    She says of the Girl Guides, "It is not about itchy brown uniforms and sewing and baking. It is a modern, contemporary, vibrant organisation."

    Producer: Christine Pawlowsky.

    • 33 min
    Damian Lewis

    Damian Lewis

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the actor, Damian Lewis.

    As part of the wave of British talent that's crashed onto America's shores in recent years his impact has made a deep impression on the creative landscape. His role as Sergeant Brodie in Homeland saw him win both an Emmy and Golden Globe and along with Band of Brothers, The Forsyte Saga and a long list of other credits, he now ranks as one of our most well recognised and highly regarded performers.

    Things didn't always look so peachy: aged 11, and in the school production of Princess Ida, he forgot the entire third act and stood mute in front of a packed auditorium. Tellingly, rather than scuttling into the wings with shame he soldiered on and by 16 he knew performing was, more than anything, what he wanted to do.

    He says, "I am a person who is ambitious. I'm ambitious to get the very best from every moment and even if that's just taking my children to the zoo ... I want it to be the best it can be.".

    • 35 min
    Rt Hon Theresa May

    Rt Hon Theresa May

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the Right Honourable Theresa May MP - the longest serving Home Secretary in fifty years.

    For those who think her political lineage seems directly descended from the Iron Lady, Theresa May's metal has certainly been stress-tested in the past few weeks. She's apologised twice in parliament for having failed to appoint a suitable head to lead the historical child abuse inquiry; a minister in her department resigned, claiming working with her had been like "walking through mud". Then there has been the controversy over the non-vote on the European Arrest Warrant and finally news this week that 1 in 5 crimes are unrecorded.

    Just as well that she has a reputation as a woman who knows her own mind and is willing to speak it. She famously said the Conservatives were perceived as the 'nasty party'. Her excoriating speech to the Police Federation dealt head on with long-term corruption and incompetence in their ranks and was received with stunned silence.

    So unflinching, resilient, driven and, if a recent poll is to be believed, a popular choice among Conservative voters to be the next Prime Minister. She has, so far, remained tight-lipped on any ambition to lead her party.

    She says, "I think you have to believe in what you're doing - that's key. If you do believe you are doing the right thing - that gives you resilience".

    • 38 min
    John Agard

    John Agard

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the poet John Agard.

    His work is studied widely in British schools. He was the BBC's first poet in residence and along with WH Auden and Philip Larkin, he's a recipient of The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.

    Born in Guyana he arrived here in the mid-1970s already playing with words like some people play with musical notes. If his style is often satirical, his subjects provide wincing realism - examining the scars of slavery or the historical myopia of a shared past judged solely through European eyes.

    He says he believes that "the poet keeps us in touch with the vulnerable core of language that makes us what we are."


    Producer: Cathy Drysdale.

    • 33 min

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