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
    • 4.4 • 11.6K Ratings

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

    Kate Ewart-Biggs, Deputy Chief Executive, British Council

    Kate Ewart-Biggs, Deputy Chief Executive, British Council

    Kate Ewart-Biggs is the deputy chief executive of the British Council, which aims to build connections between the UK and countries worldwide, through education programmes, language learning and cultural activities.

    Kate was born into a diplomatic family and her early childhood years were spent in France and Belgium. In 1976, when she was eight years old, her father Christopher Ewart-Biggs was appointed British ambassador to Ireland. Two weeks into his new job, he was killed by an IRA landmine. Kate's mother Jane moved the family back to London and began to campaign for peace and reconciliation in Ireland: she became a life peer in 1981.

    After studying anthropology at university, Kate worked on charity projects for street children in Brazil and South Africa before joining the British Council. Her career has taken her all around the world including postings in Uganda, Tanzania and Indonesia.

    She lives in London with her daughter.

    DISC ONE: I Could Have Danced All Night by My Fair Lady Orchestra, My Fair Lady Chorus, Marni Nixon (soprano), André Previn (conductor), Mona Washbourne (played Mrs. Pearce), My Fair Lady Original Motion Picture Cast and Warner Brothers Studio Orchestra
    DISC TWO: Et Si Tu N’existais Pas by Joe Dassin
    DISC THREE: Mr Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan
    DISC FOUR: I Don’t Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats
    DISC FIVE: Lambada by Kaoma
    DISC SIX: Namagembe by Madoxx Sematimba
    DISC SEVEN: I And Love And You by The Avett Brothers
    DISC EIGHT: American Pie by Don McLean

    BOOK CHOICE: The Complete Novels of Jane Austen
    LUXURY ITEM: An asthma inhaler
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Mr. Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

    • 35 min
    Andrew Ramroop, tailor

    Andrew Ramroop, tailor

    Andrew Ramroop is a Savile Row tailor, whose international client list has included film stars and royalty.

    Andrew grew up in a remote village in Trinidad and sewed his first garment at the age of nine, creating a simple pair of trousers from a pillowcase. He left school at 13 and was apprenticed to a local tailor who told him tales about the pinnacle of sartorial excellence, Savile Row – the place where James Bond’s suits were cut.

    Inspired by this vision, Andrew saved up for a ticket to sail to the UK: he emigrated at the age of 17, only the second person to leave his village. He found work on Savile Row, went on to complete a degree at the London College of Fashion, and then gained a job at Maurice Sedwell, eventually taking over the business when Maurice retired.

    In recent years, Andrew has been closely involved in training the next generation of tailors. He was awarded an OBE in 2009, for his work in tailoring and training, and was the UK’s Black Business Person of the Year in 2017.

    DISC ONE: Portrait of Trinidad by The Mighty Sniper
    DISC TWO: Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 2 by Pink Floyd
    DISC THREE: Time Will Tell by Jimmy Cliff
    DISC FOUR: The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel
    DISC FIVE: It's a Man's Man's Man's World by James Brown & The Famous Flames
    DISC SIX: Desiderata by Les Crane
    DISC SEVEN: Maria La O by Neil Latchman
    DISC EIGHT: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel

    BOOK CHOICE: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
    LUXURY ITEM: A tenor steel pan drum
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

    • 36 min
    Adele, singer and songwriter

    Adele, singer and songwriter

    Adele is a singer and songwriter who has achieved record-breaking sales and global recognition for her four albums which document her life from the age of 19 onwards. Her cache of awards includes 15 Grammys and nine BRITs. She also won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for the James Bond theme Skyfall which she co-wrote.

    She was born Adele Laurie Blue Adkins in London in 1988. In 2002 she won a place at the BRIT School for Performing Arts where she studied music and developed her performing and song writing skills. In her final year a friend posted her three-song demo online which attracted the attention of several record companies.

    In 2006 Adele signed to XL Recordings and the following year she released her first single, Hometown Glory. In 2008 she released her debut album, 19, and the following year she won Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

    Her next two albums 21 and 25 consolidated her superstar status. In 2013 she was appointed an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to music. Adele’s fourth album, 30, was released in 2021. The songs addressed how she was adjusting to life post-divorce and her feelings about her new role as a co-parent.

    Adele lives in Los Angeles with her son.

    DISC ONE: Roam by The B-52's
    DISC TWO: Dreams by Gabrielle
    DISC THREE: Need Somebody by Shola Ama
    DISC FOUR: He Needs Me by Nina Simone
    DISC FIVE: Bills Bills Bills by Destiny’s Child
    DISC SIX: I’d Rather Go Blind by Etta James
    DISC SEVEN: Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
    DISC EIGHT: For All We Know by Donny Hathaway

    BOOK CHOICE: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
    LUXURY ITEM: A self-inflating mattress
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Dreams by Gabrielle

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

    • 36 min
    Bono, singer and songwriter

    Bono, singer and songwriter

    Bono is a singer, songwriter and the frontman of U2, one of the most recognisable and successful bands in music history. They have sold over 170 million albums, won 22 Grammys – more than any other band – and two Golden Globe Awards. Bono is also known for his work as an activist, especially in Africa where he has played a prominent role in campaigns which tackle poverty and HIV/AIDs.

    Bono was born Paul Hewson in Dublin in 1960. A schoolfriend named him Bono after a hearing aid shop in Dublin called Bono Vox, and the name stuck. When he was 16, Bono saw a poster on his school noticeboard posted by Larry Mullen Jr asking for people to form a rock band. He responded with enthusiasm and before long was rehearsing with his future bandmates Larry, who played the drums, guitarist the Edge and bassist Adam Clayton.

    The band’s debut album Boy came out in 1980 and five years later they made an impact at the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium when Bono disappeared from the stage for two minutes to get up close to the audience. One newspaper later described this incident as one of the 50 key events in rock history. U2's subsequent albums, including the Joshua Tree, Rattle and Hum and Achtung Baby, cemented their status as global superstars, filling arenas around the world.

    In 2004 Bono co-founded One, an international campaigning organisation which was set up with the aim of ending extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030.

    Bono met his future wife, Ali, at school when they were both teenagers. They married in 1982 and have four children.

    DISC ONE: Show Me The Way by Peter Frampton
    DISC TWO: Every Grain Of Sand by Bob Dylan
    DISC THREE: Abide With Me by Emeli Sande and The Fron Choir
    DISC FOUR: Dead In The Water (Live At RTÉ 2FM Studios, Dublin) by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
    DISC FIVE: Ice Cream Sundae by Inhaler
    DISC SIX: Agolo by Angelique Kidjo
    DISC SEVEN: Verdi: La traviata Prelude to Act 1, composed by Giuseppe Verdi and performed by Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, conducted by James Levine
    DISC EIGHT: Someone Somewhere in Summertime by Simple Minds

    BOOK CHOICE: Ulysses by James Joyce
    LUXURY ITEM: A Spanish guitar
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Every Grain Of Sand by Bob Dylan

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

    • 36 min
    Rita Tushingham, actor

    Rita Tushingham, actor

    Rita Tushingham first won international acclaim as a teenager, playing Jo in the film A Taste of Honey. Her performance in this 1961 kitchen sink drama earned her a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival. She starting shooting the film on her 19th birthday.

    She went on to play roles in the Leather Boys, the Knack… and How to Get it and Doctor Zhivago. Now 80, she continues to perform and recently appeared in two BBC television drama series - Ridley Road and The Responder - and in the film Last Night in Soho.

    Rita was born in Liverpool and at 16 joined the Liverpool Repertory Company as a student assistant stage manager. Her first role was as the back legs of a horse in Toad of Toad Hall. In 1960 she responded to a newspaper article which invited ‘ugly’ unknown girls to apply for the part of Jo in a film adaptation of Shelagh Delaney's play A Taste of Honey, to be directed by Tony Richardson. The film challenged many taboos of the time, including teenage pregnancy and interracial relationships.

    After the British film industry went into decline in the 1970s Rita started working in Europe. In 1988 she went back to her roots and played Celia Higgins in Carla Lane’s Liverpool sitcom, Bread. Rita lives in London and is a passionate supporter of Liverpool Football Club.

    DISC ONE: You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry & the Pacemakers
    DISC TWO: Tutti Frutti by Little Richard
    DISC THREE: Penny Lane by The Beatles
    DISC FOUR: Every Time We Say Goodbye by Ella Fitzgerald
    DISC FIVE: The pas de deux from the second act of Giselle, performed by The Pro Arte Orchestra, conducted by Marcus Dods
    DISC SIX: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel
    DISC SEVEN: An extract from I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue - Potted Plots, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 22nd May 2006
    DISC EIGHT: Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley

    BOOK CHOICE: Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
    LUXURY ITEM: A photograph album
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Paula McGinley

    • 35 min
    Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC

    Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC

    Frances O’Grady is the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the UK's umbrella group for unions, representing millions of workers. She is the first woman in the 154 year history of the TUC to hold this post, which she took up in 2013.

    Frances is the youngest of five children, and was brought up in Oxford. Her family has strong links with the trade union movement: her great grandfather and grandfather were founder members of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, and her father was a shop steward at the British Leyland plant in Cowley.

    Thanks to strong encouragement from one of her teachers, Frances was the first of her family to go to university, studying History and Politics at Manchester. After graduation, she moved to London and worked in shops and the hospitality industry, becoming a union rep before getting a job at the Transport and General Workers Union. She joined the TUC in 1994 as Campaigns Secretary, became Deputy General Secretary in 2003 and General Secretary a decade later. In 2020, during the pandemic, she worked with the government on the furlough scheme, providing support for workers whose usual employment.

    In April 2022, she announced that she would step down from her post at the end of this year.

    DISC ONE: It’s Not Unusual by Tom Jones
    DISC TWO: Burn It Down by Dexys Midnight Runners
    DISC THREE: Double Barrel by Dave & Ansell Collins
    DISC FOUR: Atmosphere by Joy Division
    DISC FIVE: Funkin' for Jamaica by Tom Browne
    DISC SIX: Hello Stranger by Barbara Lewis
    DISC SEVEN: Pieces of a Man by Gil Scott-Heron
    DISC EIGHT: A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke

    BOOK CHOICE: History by Elsa Morante
    LUXURY ITEM: A painting set with edible paints
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Double Barrel by Dave & Ansell Collins

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
11.6K Ratings

11.6K Ratings

redvers ,

Kate moss episode

Have always listened to this show for the past thirty years. But one episode is missing on the download is the Kate Moss, what’s happened to it??

Free the mind ,


Loved listening to this. Lauren is so good with musicians like him. Let’s have more please 👏🏼

Worsey69 ,

Ian Wright

Check out Ian Wright’s podcast.. a brilliant emotional rollercoaster!

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