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, 9.8K Ratings

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

    Helen Fielding, author

    Helen Fielding, author

    Helen Fielding, writer and journalist, is best known for creating Bridget Jones, who first appeared in a newspaper column in the Independent in 1995, in the form of a diary detailing the single 30-something’s exploits in London as she tried to make sense of life and love. The column soon acquired a wider following, and Helen turned Bridget’s story into a best-selling book the following year.

    Born in 1958, Helen grew up in Yorkshire with an older sister and two younger brothers. Her father was a manager at the textile mill next door to where they lived.
    She read English at Oxford where she became friends with Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson. After graduating, she became a BBC trainee, travelling to Africa for Comic Relief. She later made documentaries for Thames TV before moving into print journalism.

    To date, Helen has written four Bridget Jones novels, three of which have been turned into feature films starring Renée Zellweger. She spent a decade in Los Angeles at the start of the new millennium and had two children with Kevin Curran, who was a scriptwriter for The Simpsons. She now lives in London.

    DISC ONE: Fly Me to the Moon by Julie London
    DISC TWO: The Windmills of Your Mind by Noel Harrison
    DISC THREE: It Must Be Love by Madness
    DISC FOUR: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30, composed by Sergei Rachmaninov, conducted by Valery Gergiev and performed by Denis Matsuev (piano) and Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra
    DISC FIVE: La Isla Bonita by Madonna
    DISC SIX: I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
    DISC SEVEN: I’ve Got the World on a String by Frank Sinatra
    DISC EIGHT: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered by Stan Getz & The Oscar Peterson Trio

    BOOK CHOICE: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    LUXURY ITEM: A magical tree
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: It Must Be Love by Madness

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Cathy Drysdale

    • 38 min
    Helen McCrory, actress

    Helen McCrory, actress

    Helen McCrory shares the eight tracks, book and luxury she would want to take with her if cast away to a desert island.

    Helen McCrory OBE is one of the most versatile and critically acclaimed actresses working today. On screen she has played Anna Karenina, Cherie Blair (twice), Harry Potter's Narcissa Malfoy and the Peaky Blinders matriarch Aunt Polly. Her theatre roles range from Yelena in Uncle Vanya to Euripides' Medea.

    A diplomat's daughter, she spent her early childhood in Africa before continuing her education in the UK. After a bruising and unsuccessful audition at the Drama Centre in London - she was instructed to find out more about life before learning to act - she travelled to Italy where she discovered art and love and came back to try again. This time she passed the audition.

    In 1993 she made her mark in Richard Eyre's production of Trelawny of the Wells at the National Theatre and went on to perform leading roles on some of London's most prestigious stages, winning two Olivier Award nominations. She was awarded an OBE for services to drama in 2017.

    She met her husband, fellow actor Damian Lewis, when they both starred in a play called Five Gold Rings. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic Helen and Damian, together with the comedian Matt Lucas, co-founded the Feed NHS campaign which raises money to provide hot meals to frontline NHS workers.


    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

    • 38 min
    Mark Johnston, racehorse trainer

    Mark Johnston, racehorse trainer

    Racehorse trainer Mark Johnston is a lynchpin of British flat racing. In August 2018 - when 20-1 shot Poet's Society, ridden by Frankie Dettori, streaked to victory at York - Mark became the most prolific winning trainer in British racing history, saddling 4,194 winners.

    Based in a 300-acre training yard in Yorkshire, he has never trained fewer than 100 winners each season for the last 26 years including champions such as Attraction, Mister Baileys, Double Trigger and Shamardal.

    Mark grew up on a council estate in East Kilbride and learned to ride when he was a child. His father was a horse lover who enjoyed a flutter and took the young Mark to the bookies when he placed his bets - although Mark was too young to go inside. As a 14-year-old Mark raced whippets and later studied veterinary medicine at Glasgow University but his dream was always to become a racehorse trainer.

    In 1986, together with his wife and business partner Deirdre, Mark bought his first yard. He had no money or connections in the racing world and had three-and-a-half paying horses rather than the 12 he needed under the terms of his trainer's licence. In these early days, the horses trained on a nearby beach that doubled up as an MOD bombing range.

    Johnston horses are known for their front-running style - he believes races aren't won by horses accelerating and passing the other runners, but when the horses in front slow down. He says: "I tell my jockeys to bowl along at the speed the horse is happiest."

    DISC ONE: Get Down and Get With It by Slade
    DISC TWO: Pencil Full of Lead by Paolo Nutini
    DISC THREE: You May Be Right by Billy Joel
    DISC FOUR: You're Still The One by Deirdre and Angus Johnston
    DISC FIVE: Romeo and Juliet by Dire Straits
    DISC SIX: I Knew the Bride Dave Edmunds
    DISC SEVEN: Not Ready to Make Nice by Dixie Chicks
    DISC EIGHT: Don't Stop by Fleetwood Mac

    BOOK CHOICE: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
    LUXURY ITEM: A pair of binoculars
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Don't Stop by Fleetwood Mac

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

    • 39 min
    Joe Wicks, fitness trainer and author

    Joe Wicks, fitness trainer and author

    Joe Wicks, professionally known as The Body Coach, is a fitness and nutrition coach. Since the lockdown, he has been running daily free virtual PE lessons for children and adults stuck at home. In March he became a Guinness World Record holder after his second PE with Joe class was watched by 955,158 people around the world, a record number of viewers for a live streamed YouTube workout. Getting children to be more active has been a long-held ambition and in 2019 he went on a tour of fifteen schools around the UK delivering High Intensity Interval Training workouts as part of his mission to get school children working out for 15 minutes a day.

    Born in 1985, Joe’s mother was nineteen when she gave birth to him while his father was in and out of his life with a heroin addiction. He was a hyperactive child whose salvation at school was channelling his excess energy into PE lessons.

    With a Sports Science degree under his belt, he briefly became a teaching assistant himself, but found it wasn’t for him and set himself up as a personal trainer instead, preaching the importance of combining training with the right nutrition. With the advent of the video function on Instagram, he started posting free 15-second recipes using the name The Body Coach, building up a following of first hundreds, then thousands and eventually millions.

    His phenomenally successful business began when he created a commercial 90-day plan with workouts and meals. He published Lean in 15 in 2015 which became the bestselling non-fiction book of the year, and he has since written eight further cook books.

    He married his wife, Rosie, in 2019 and the couple have two children, Indie and Marley.

    DISC ONE: Shotgun by George Ezra
    DISC TWO: Bright Side of the Road by Van Morrison
    DISC THREE: Three Little Birds by Bob Marley And The Wailers
    DISC FOUR: When You Were Young by The Killers
    DISC FIVE: Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen
    DISC SIX: River by Leon Bridges
    DISC SEVEN: Nothing Can Change This Love by Sam Cooke
    DISC EIGHT: You’re Welcome by Dwayne Johnson

    BOOK CHOICE: Lord of the Flies by William Golding
    LUXURY ITEM: An acoustic guitar
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: River by Leon Bridges

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Cathy Drysdale

    • 38 min
    Martin Lewis, financial campaigner

    Martin Lewis, financial campaigner

    Martin Lewis is a financial journalist, campaigner and broadcaster.

    His high-profile campaigns on bank charges, student finance, and mental health and debt have made headlines, and millions of people subscribe to his weekly money tips email. He founded the Money Saving Expert website in 2003 with just £100 and sold it less than a decade later for £87 million, although he calls himself an 'accidental entrepreneur'.

    He has since supported numerous groups and causes through charitable donations, most recently setting up a Coronavirus Poverty Emergency Fund to help small local charities. He has also campaigned for financial help and guidance for self-employed people who are unable to work during the current pandemic.

    Martin grew up in Cheshire and studied at the London School of Economics. After a brief spell working in financial PR, he took a postgraduate course in broadcast journalism with the aim of becoming a commentator on money matters, and he initially worked as a producer and presenter on radio and TV,

    DISC ONE: Livin’ La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin
    DISC TWO: Stand and Deliver by Adam And The Ants
    DISC THREE: Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off by Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald
    DISC FOUR: The Circle Game by Joni Mitchell
    DISC FIVE: (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones
    DISC SIX: The Blue Danube, composed by Johann Strauss II, conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent and performed by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
    DISC SEVEN: I Fought the Lloyds by Oystar
    DISC EIGHT: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons

    BOOK CHOICE: A Game of Thrones: The Story Continues: The complete boxset of all 7 books (A Song of Ice and Fire) by George R.R. Martin
    LUXURY ITEM: Solar powered electric carving knife
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Livin’ La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

    • 36 min
    Your Desert Island Discs

    Your Desert Island Discs

    Listeners choose the music that has been special to them during the weeks of lockdown. With Jane Moss, Hugh Mullally, Ailish Douglas, Professor Jason Warren, Niti Acharya, Margery Hookings, Simon Spiller, Clare Raybould and Garry Greenland.

    DISC ONE: Amazing Grace by Judy Collins
    DISC TWO: Who Knows Where The Time Goes? by Sandy Denny
    DISC THREE: The Whole of The Moon by The Waterboys
    DISC FOUR: Heimweh op. 57 Nr. 6: Homesickness, composed by Edvard Grieg, performed by Emil Gilels
    DISC FIVE: Ab Saunp Diya by Om Vyas
    DISC SIX: Prelude and The Sound of Music by Julie Andrews & Orchestra of St. Luke's
    DISC SEVEN: Over The Rainbow / What A Wonderful World by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
    DISC EIGHT: Six Million Steps (West Runs South) by Rahni Harris & F.L.O

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Cathy Drysdale

    • 50 min

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5
9.8K Ratings

9.8K Ratings

Monkton 44 ,

Great show but wrong host

Nothing whatsoever against LL as I really like her but this is not a good fit for her.
Can you imagine LL getting the emotional outpouring from Johnny Vegas when he spoke (arguably the greatest DID) of asking his Father for the money for an ice cream or eating the family pet which was hilarious and heartbreaking in equal measure.
DID needs a journalist to probe and ask the secondary questions that make this programme so great.
I too used to subscribe to this but stopped after Kirsty Young stepped down and only occasionally look up who’s been in.
Previously, I would have listened regardless.

fussgangerzone ,

Not what it was

Lauren Laverne is an incredibly talented broadcaster and communicator but I agree with other reviewers that she is not the right person for this programme. The interviews tend to feel hasty and like the castaway is being rushed on to their next piece of music. It lacks spaciousness now and feels like just another podcast format rather than a flagship programme. Goodness knows how previous presenters managed to create such a sense of space - it’s clearly a real challenge.

DyingforDID ,

Missing Kirsty

Listened to DID almost every night before I went to sleep. Often repeated podcasts. Can’t listen anymore. I’m sure LL is a lovely person but her interviewing style is wooden and feels scripted and uninterested in the guests. Still listen occasionally hoping to recapture the former magic but sadly it doesn’t happen.
Happy to have the old ones still available particularly Zaha Hadid and Harry Rabinowitz and Kenneth Williams always makes me laugh.

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