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
    • 4.4 • 10.6K Ratings

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

    Samantha Power

    Samantha Power

    Samantha Power was the USA's youngest ever ambassador to the UN, during President Barack Obama’s second term, and is a writer and academic. She has just been invited to join president-elect Joe Biden's administration.

    Samantha was born in London but grew up in Ireland. At the age of nine, she moved to the US with her mother and younger brother following the breakdown of her parents’ marriage.

    Her first ambition was to be a sports broadcaster, but watching live footage of events in Tiananmen Square in 1989 led her to change course and she became a war correspondent instead, reporting on the conflict in Bosnia in the early 1990s. After returning to the US, she wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning book in which she examined what she saw as America’s repeated reluctance to confront genocide in the 20th century.

    In 2013 she was appointed ambassador to the UN. She stepped down in 2017 and became professor of global leadership, public policy and human rights at Harvard. Shortly after this edition of Desert Island Discs was recorded, she accepted the role of Administrator of the US Agency for International Development.

    DISC ONE: Dancing Queen by ABBA
    DISC TWO: Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens
    DISC THREE: Thousands Are Sailing by The Pogues
    DISC FOUR: Crazy by Seal
    DISC FIVE: Boots of Spanish Leather by Mandolin Orange
    DISC SIX: Why? (The King of Love is Dead) by Nina Simone
    DISC SEVEN: Tonight Will Be Fine by Teddy Thompson
    DISC EIGHT: A Million Years by Alexander

    BOOK CHOICE: A guitar
    LUXURY ITEM: The Irish Times Book of Favourite Irish Poems by Colm Tóibín
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Tonight Will Be Fine by Teddy Thompson

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Paula McGinley

    • 35 min
    David Olusoga, historian and broadcaster

    David Olusoga, historian and broadcaster

    David Olusoga is a historian, writer and broadcaster who has presented a range of programmes including the BBC’s A House Through Time and Civilisations. He is currently professor of public history at Manchester University.

    Born in Lagos, the second child to a Nigerian father and a British mother, David was brought up by his mother in Gateshead after his parents’ marriage broke down. As a child he and his siblings experienced sustained racism and he remembers school as a place of violence and cruelty.

    He credits his mother’s tenacity and her determination to educate her children for his later success in getting to university and establishing a career in television. His love of history developed from a young age, thanks to one of his teachers who taught him why an understanding of history matters. Watching television documentaries also opened up a world of possibility and David fondly recalls programmes from the 1980s presented by the historian Michael Wood, who made history seem cool in the eyes of the young schoolboy glued to the TV in his Gateshead council house.

    Last year David delivered the MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival in which he talked candidly about his loneliness at being the only black person on a production team and the difficulties he had trying to explain the racial implications of how, for example, people in Africa were often portrayed on screen.

    DISC ONE: Zombie by Fela Kuti
    DISC TWO: Roll on Buddy by Aunt Molly Jackson
    DISC THREE: Black Mountain Blues by Bessie Smith
    DISC FOUR: Just The Other Day by Dr Alimantado
    DISC FIVE: Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground by Blind Willie Johnson
    DISC SIX: Last Kind Words by Geeshie Wiley
    DISC SEVEN: You Can't Blame The Youth (Live At The Record Plant '73) by Bob Marley & The Wailers
    DISC EIGHT: Precious Lord, Take My Hand / You’ve Got a Friend by Aretha Franklin

    BOOK CHOICE: The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell: An Age Like This, 1920-40
    LUXURY ITEM: Acoustic guitar
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground by Blind Willie Johnson

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Paula McGinley

    • 35 min
    Colonel Lucy Giles

    Colonel Lucy Giles

    Colonel Lucy Giles is an officer of the British Army’s Royal Logistic Corps and is currently President of the Army Officer Selection Board - the first woman to take on this role.

    After attending her local comprehensive school in Wincanton, Somerset, she studied Biological Sciences at Exeter University where she joined the University Officers’ Training Corps, despite having no military background herself.

    After what she calls a “retrospective year out”, she joined the last female-only company at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and was commissioned into the Royal Corps of Transport in 1992, which became the Royal Logistic Corps the following year.

    Over a career spanning more than 25 years, she has served in over 20 countries including South Africa, Bosnia, East Timor and Sierra Leone. She was the first female Officer Commanding of 47 Air Despatch Squadron, enabling operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in 2015 became the first woman Commander of New College, Sandhurst. She was promoted to the rank of colonel in 2018.

    She is married to Brigadier Nick Post, and they have two children, Jess and Alex. In her spare time, she is a marathon runner.

    DISC ONE: The Day That Never Comes by Metallica
    DISC TWO: Heart-Shaped Box by Nirvana
    DISC THREE: Pilate's Dream (from Jesus Christ Superstar) by Barry Dennen
    DISC FOUR: Love Shack by The B-52’s
    DISC FIVE: Street Spirit (Fade Out) by Radiohead
    DISC SIX: For those in Peril on the Sea, a special arrangement by Lieutenant Colonel Simon Haw MBE, performed by Band of the Coldstream Guards and members of the Guards’ Chapel Choir
    DISC SEVEN: Fire by Kasabian
    DISC EIGHT: Big in Japan by Alphaville

    BOOK CHOICE: A book by Agatha Christie
    LUXURY ITEM: A jigsaw puzzle
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: The Day That Never Comes by Metallica

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

    • 35 min
    Sir Cliff Richard

    Sir Cliff Richard

    Sir Cliff Richard makes a second trip to the island he first visited 60 years ago, when he had just turned 20, but had already topped the UK charts three times.

    Over the course of his career, Sir Cliff has released over 100 albums and sold well over 250 million records. His chart success in the UK has been eclipsed only by his hero Elvis Presley and one-time rivals, the Beatles.

    Born Harry Webb in Lucknow, India, Sir Cliff returned to the UK with his family in 1948: money was tight and the family of six shared a room until they were able to move into a council house. Sir Cliff’s father bought him a guitar for his 16th birthday and he initially performed in a skiffle band until he discovered rock ‘n’ roll and started a new band called the Drifters which later became the Shadows. His first hit single came in 1958 with Move It – often credited as being the first authentic British rock ‘n’ roll track – and he dominated the home-grown music scene of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

    During his long career Sir Cliff performed on screen in films including Summer Holiday and The Young Ones. He has fronted television shows, twice performed Britain’s entry in the Eurovision Song Contest and starred in two stage musicals. Today, at 80, he is still recording new songs and itching to get back on tour to perform his music in a post-Covid world.

    Sir Cliff's return to Desert Island Discs after 60 years is record-breaking: it's the longest time between appearances in the programme's eight decade history.

    DISC ONE: Rolling in the Deep by Aretha Franklin
    DISC TWO: What's Love Got To Do With It by Cliff Richard
    DISC THREE: Heartbreak Hotel by Elvis Presley
    DISC FOUR: I Honestly Love You by Olivia Newton-John
    DISC FIVE: It Is Well by Sheila Walsh Featuring Cliff Richard
    DISC SIX: I Can't Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt
    DISC SEVEN: Stayin' Alive by Bee Gees
    DISC EIGHT: High Water Everywhere by Joe Bonamassa

    BOOK CHOICE: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
    LUXURY ITEM: A Gibson acoustic guitar
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: It Is Well by Sheila Walsh Featuring Cliff Richard

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

    • 35 min
    Minette Batters

    Minette Batters

    Minette Batters is the first woman to become President of the National Farmers' Union, representing 47,000 members. She was first elected to the post in 2018 for two years, and was re-elected in March 2020.

    Minette runs a tenanted family farm in Wiltshire. The mixed farming business includes cattle, sheep and arable, as well as the conversion of a 17th century barn into a wedding and events venue.

    Her father was a tenant farmer, and Minette adored helping him as a youngster, but the idea of taking on the farm herself seemed out of the question: her father strongly advised against it. Instead she took a Cordon Bleu course, graduated with distinction and ran her own catering business for 20 years. When her father retired, the lure of the land pulled her back and she took on the tenancy in 1998, despite the misgivings of many of her friends. Her campaigns on behalf of farmers include the initiatives Ladies in Beef and the Great British Beef Week. This year she has represented the views of NFU members during the Covid-19 crisis and the Brexit negotiations.

    DISC ONE: Green Green Grass of Home by Tom Jones
    DISC TWO: I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers
    DISC THREE: Antonio Vivaldi: Spring From The Four Seasons: 1. Allegro by Nigel Kennedy (violin) and English Chamber Orchestra
    DISC FOUR: Give A Little Bit by Supertramp
    DISC FIVE: Silent Night by The Salisbury Cathedral Choir, conducted by David Halls
    DISC SIX: Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
    DISC SEVEN: The Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler
    DISC EIGHT: I Vow To Thee My Country by Katherine Jenkins

    BOOK CHOICE: We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
    LUXURY ITEM: A loaf of bread
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Give A Little Bit by Supertramp

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

    • 37 min
    Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar

    Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar

    Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar is Director of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation which funds scientific research. He is a member of Sage, the scientific group currently advising the government on Covid-19.

    He is the youngest of six children and was born in Singapore. His mother was an artist and his father was a teacher, who worked around the world, and the family lived in New Zealand, Cyprus and Libya.

    After struggling to win a place a medical school, he trained as a doctor in London and then moved to Edinburgh to work as a neurologist. He switched to public health and was for 18 years the Director of the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Vietnam, where he worked on infectious diseases, including the re-emergence of bird flu in 2004. He was knighted for services to global health in 2019, and is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a Fellow of The Royal Society.

    DISC ONE: Under The Boardwalk by The Rolling Stones
    DISC TWO: The World Service Lillibulero theme, composed by Henry Purcell
    DISC THREE: Muezzin Call To Prayer, recorded by David Fanshawe
    DISC FOUR: Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, read by Sir Simon Russell Beale
    DISC FIVE: Mallai Chroch Shli by Duncan Chisholm
    DISC SIX: Nabucco: Chorus Of The Hebrew Slaves from Verdi's Nabucco, by the Chicago
    Symphony Chorus, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Georg Solti
    DISC SEVEN: 7 Seconds by Youssou N'Dour & Neneh Cherry
    DISC EIGHT: Love under the Moonlight by The Khac Chi Ensemble

    BOOK CHOICE: Other Men's Flowers: An Anthology of Poetry by A. P. Wavell
    LUXURY ITEM: A cricket bowling machine
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Love under the Moonlight by The Khac Chi Ensemble

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

    • 37 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
10.6K Ratings

10.6K Ratings

Jimboxd0069 ,

Desert Island Discs

Love the show.

Reetpetit ,

Arsene Wenger

Loved that interview. Very charismatic and fascinating. His joy for life not just football shone through. They sounded like friends chatting. Well done Lauren.

cde1@2 ,

Cliff Richard

Wow he managed to cope with lockdown in barbados - so out of touch with reality

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