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
    • 4.3 • 12.1K Ratings

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

    Lea Salonga, singer and actor

    Lea Salonga, singer and actor

    Lea Salonga was just 18 when she became an international theatre star, taking a leading role in the world premiere production of the musical Miss Saigon in 1989. Her performance - first in London, then on Broadway - won her Olivier and Tony awards. She has provided the singing voice for two Disney princesses, and has become a strong advocate for better Asian representation on stage and screen.

    She was born in Manila in the Philippines, where she made her professional stage debut in 1978 at the age of seven in a production of The King and I. Further roles in musicals followed, and she recorded a best-selling solo album when she was 10.
    Lea planned to become a doctor before she was invited to audition for Miss Saigon, and her immediate success launched a performing career in which she has made history many times. She was the first Asian woman to win a Tony for an acting role, the first Asian actor to star in Les Misérables, the first Filipino artist to sign a record deal with an international label and the first person to voice two different Disney princesses - Mulan and Jasmine in Aladdin, in which she sang A Whole New World, which won the Oscar for Best Original Song. She has appeared in numerous international stage productions, as well as television shows, films and singing tours.
    Earlier this year she starred in and made her debut as a producer on the musical Here Lies Love on Broadway: written by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, it focuses on the life of Imelda Marcos, wife of Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
    In September, Lea returned to the London Stage in 'Old Friends' , a musical tribute to Stephen Sondheim.
    She has performed for six Filipino and four American presidents.
    DISC ONE: Feed The Birds (Tuppence a Bag) - Julie Andrews, The Disney Studio Chorus
    DISC TWO: Days and Days -Judy Kuhn
    DISC THREE: Billie Jean - Michael Jackson
    DISC FOUR: Tsismis - Ryan Cayabyab
    DISC FIVE: Gymnopédie No. 1. Composed by Erik Satie and performed by Philippe Entremont
    DISC SIX: Intro: Singularity - BTS
    DISC SEVEN: Baby Mine - Betty Noyes
    DISC EIGHT: Snooze - Agust D ft. Ryuichi Sakamoto & WOOSUNG
    BOOK CHOICE: The Complete Far Side by Gary Larson
    LUXURY ITEM: A typewriter
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Snooze - Agust D ft. Ryuichi Sakamoto & WOOSUNG
    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

    • 36 min
    Professor Dame Lesley Regan, obstetrician and gynaecologist

    Professor Dame Lesley Regan, obstetrician and gynaecologist

    Professor Dame Lesley Regan is the Government’s first Women’s Health Ambassador for England. She is one of the main drivers behind the upcoming Women’s Health Strategy which aims to tackle the gender health gap and improve services for women.
    As a former president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists – only the second woman to hold that post in its 94-year history – she shone a light on historically taboo subjects from period problems and contraception to the menopause.
    Lesley was born in London in 1956. When she was seven she told her father that she wanted to be a doctor and although the sciences weren’t her strongest subjects at school, she won a place at the Royal Free Hospital Medical School in London in 1975.
    In 1991 she was appointed a senior lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St Mary’s Hospital in London and consultant at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. The following year she set up the Recurrent Miscarriage Clinic at St Mary’s which is the largest miscarriage referral service in the world.
    In 2020 she was appointed a DBE for services to women’s healthcare.
    DISC ONE: Mr Bojangles – Nina Simone
    DISC TWO: Symphony No. 5 in C Sharp. Composed by Mahler and performed by Berliner Philharmoniker
    DISC THREE: Agnus Dei. Composed by Bach and performed by Iestyn Davies, (counter-tenor), The English Consort, conducted by Harry Bicket
    DISC FOUR: I Cried for You - Katie Melua
    DISC FIVE: Norma: Act I, Scene 1: Casta diva (Norma/Coro) Composed by Vincenzo Bellini and performed by Maria Callas (soprano), The Teatro Alla Scala Orchestra, conducted by Tullio Serafin
    DISC SIX: The Best – Tina Turner
    DISC SEVEN: Metamorpheme – Shakespeare and the Bible
    DISC EIGHT: Clarinet Concerto In A, K. 622 - II. Adagio. Composed by Mozart and performed by Karl Leister (clarinet) and Berliner Philharmoniker, conducted by Herbert Von Karajan
    BOOK CHOICE: The Works of George Eliot
    LUXURY ITEM: Marmite on toast
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: The Best – Tina Turner
    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Paula McGinley

    • 37 min
    Patrick Grant, designer and broadcaster

    Patrick Grant, designer and broadcaster

    Patrick Grant is a designer, clothing entrepreneur and a judge on the BBC TV programme The Great British Sewing Bee.
    Patrick was born in Edinburgh in 1972. His interest in clothes and in making things was evident from a very early age, along with a love of sport: his father was a rugby coach and trained Patrick and his friends. Some of his friends went on to represent Scotland and Patrick played for Scotland's under-19 team.
    He studied Material Science and Engineering at Leeds University and worked in industry for a decade. Then, after spotting an advertisement in a newspaper, he bought an ailing Savile Row tailoring company. It was almost an impulse buy, at great financial risk. After a shaky start, he turned the business around, and within five years he was named menswear designer of the year at the British Fashion Awards. Patrick went on to buy a factory in Blackburn, Cookson and Clegg. He is passionate about British manufacturing, and set up Community Clothing with the aim of making good quality affordable day wear.
    He has been a judge on The Great British Sewing Bee since the programme began in 2013. He divides his time between London, Blackburn and the Highlands.
    DISC ONE: Les Fleurs - Minnie Riperton
    DISC TWO: My Heart’s in the Highlands - Else Torp and Christopher Bowers-Broadbent
    DISC THREE: Do You Wanna Funk - Sylvester
    DISC FOUR: Big Time Sensuality, the Fluke Magimix - Björk
    DISC FIVE: Harry Patch (In Memory of) - Radiohead
    DISC SIX: Kill Dem - Jamie xx
    DISC SEVEN: Get Better - alt-J
    DISC EIGHT: I Saw - Young Fathers
    BOOK CHOICE: Green Woodwork: Working with Wood the Natural Way by Mike Abbott
    LUXURY ITEM: A complete set of woodworking tools
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Kill Dem - Jamie xx
    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

    • 36 min
    Dame Donna Langley, film studio executive

    Dame Donna Langley, film studio executive

    Dame Donna Langley is chairman and chief content officer for the NBC Universal Studio Group, the first British woman in history to run a major Hollywood film studio. She green lit Christopher Nolan’s latest film Oppenheimer and was one of the earliest and most ardent supporters of the Abba movie Mamma Mia.
    She was born in London and brought up on the Isle of Wight. She always knew she was adopted as a baby, which she says made her feel special within her family. She left London for Los Angeles when she was in her early twenties, looking for adventure rather than following a career plan.
    In LA, she worked in a club on Sunset Boulevard before taking up an internship with a film producer. Later she worked as an assistant at the production studio New Line Cinema, and in 2001 she joined Universal Studios as senior vice president of production.
    She says her decision to say yes to a film is based on her gut instinct and whether she loves it. She is a champion of original content and early on in her career backed Straight Outta Compton – the story of the hip hop band NWA – and later Get Out, directed by Jordan Peele. She currently oversees major franchises including Fast and Furious, Despicable Me and Jurassic World.
    Dame Donna lives in California with her husband and two children.
    DISC ONE: Thank You For The Music - Abba
    DISC TWO: Zorba the Greek - Mikis Theodorakis
    DISC THREE: La Wally - composed by Alfredo Catalani and performed by Wilhelmenia Fernandez
    DISC FOUR: This is the Day - The The
    DISC FIVE: It Was A Good Day - Ice Cube
    DISC SIX: Never Is a Promise - Fiona Apple
    DISC SEVEN: All My Friends - LCD Soundsystem
    DISC EIGHT: Come Home (feat. André 3000) - Anderson Paak
    BOOK CHOICE: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
    LUXURY ITEM: Tarot cards
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: All My Friends - LCD Soundsystem
    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Paula McGinley

    • 36 min
    Greg Jackson, entrepreneur

    Greg Jackson, entrepreneur

    Greg Jackson is the founder and CEO of Octopus Energy. The company is the UK’s second largest domestic energy provider with over five million customers and is one of Europe’s leading investors in renewables.
    Greg was born in Germany in 1971 where his father was a surveyor in the army. The family returned to the UK a few years later and, following his parents’ divorce, Greg and his two younger siblings were brought up by his mother in Halifax. He describes his mother’s fortitude in bringing up three children on a tight budget as inspirational.
    Greg left school at 16 to write video games but returned to education a few years later to complete his A-Levels. He went on to study economics at Cambridge University and then joined Procter and Gamble’s graduate scheme where he worked in marketing.
    He became managing director of a mirror business when he was still in his twenties and then began flexing his business acumen by investing in a series of tech start-up businesses. In 2015 he secured £10m in investment to start a new energy company.
    Greg has two sons and lives in west London.
    DISC ONE: The Only Way is Up - Yazz & The Plastic Population
    DISC TWO: Run To The Hills - Iron Maiden
    DISC THREE: Shipping Forecast (BBC Radio 4) Read by Eugene Fraser
    DISC FOUR: I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For - U2
    DISC FIVE: Dizzy - The Wonder Stuff and Vic Reeves
    DISC SIX: The Gambler - Kenny Rogers
    DISC SEVEN: One Day Like This - Elbow
    DISC EIGHT: Rockaway Beach - Motörhead
    BOOK CHOICE: The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation by Frank O'Brien
    LUXURY ITEM: A pinball machine
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: One Day Like This - Elbow
    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Paula McGinley

    • 36 min
    Katherine Ryan, comedian

    Katherine Ryan, comedian

    Katherine Ryan is a Canadian comedian and writer. Her edgy and provocative routines have led to sell-out tours, comedy specials on television and her sitcom series The Duchess. Based on her experience at the time, the Duchess tells the story of a successful, happily single mother and Katherine wrote it out of frustration because she believed no one else was telling a story like hers on screen.
    Katherine was born in Sarnia in Ontario where she attended a local French-speaking primary school. The school celebrated the arts and Katherine became a musical theatre enthusiast who could sing, dance, write and act.
    Later she moved to Toronto where she studied city planning and worked for a branch of the restaurant chain Hooters. She credits the latter with teaching her the value of being entertaining and smart.
    In 2008 she relocated to London with her boyfriend and a few years later she got her big break as a comedian, performing on the panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats. By now a single mother to daughter Violet, she developed a rapport with audiences by sharing stories from her own life – both funny and sad. She describes her tendency to connect with her fans in this way as her “language of love”.
    In 2019, while filming an episode of the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are in Canada, she met up with her high school boyfriend, Bobby. They hadn’t seen each other for 20 years but the spark was still there and later that year they married in Denmark and went on to have two children together.
    The programme was recorded on September 6th.
    DISC ONE: Spice Up Your Life - The Spice Girls
    DISC TWO: The Real Slim Shady - Eminem
    DISC THREE: La Isla Bonita - Madonna
    DISC FOUR: Soul One - Blind Melon
    DISC FIVE: 22 - Taylor Swift
    DISC SIX: Psychic City (Classixx Remix) - Yacht
    DISC SEVEN: Crash Into Me - Dave Matthews Band
    DISC EIGHT: 16 Shots - Stefflon Don
    BOOK CHOICE: The Highway Rat by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
    LUXURY ITEM: A hat and skincare set
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Spice Up Your Life - The Spice Girls
    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
12.1K Ratings

12.1K Ratings

Ju Rose62 ,

Ade Edmondson

Very interesting and emotional episode with Ade sharing some of his life stories with us, gentle yet productive interviewing from Lauren.

Sequeira119 ,

Kirsty Young is the best presenter

Kirsty is brilliant at this job, she’s so insightful, putting people at ease, getting more out of an interview with this tact. She talks to people from different walks of life with interest, learning about people who have led amazing lives,asking questions we all want to ask. I’ve listened to previous presenters and Kirsty is the best. I listened to Sunday’s dessert island disc, Lauren Laverne doing the interview now, she’s doing a great job, Ade Edmonson’s interview was insightful and emotional.

Be-Ed ,

Poor interviewing

Still so disappointing. Lauren Laverne’s questions still seem to come from a pre decided list with no room allowed for diversions into greater depth or unexpected channels. Still uneasy with allowing a silence to give the interviewee time to reflect, she all too often ploughs in with her own answer. Peter Doig, one of the outstanding painters of the century, do we really want to know the practicalities of how he manages such big canvases?? Really? That’s the most interesting thing to ask about his painting?

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