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 • 12.2K Ratings

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

    Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cellist

    Sheku Kanneh-Mason, cellist

    Sheku Kanneh-Mason is a cellist who came to international attention when he performed at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2018. Still only 24, he has performed at a series of high profile locations including the Hollywood Bowl and Downing Street. Last year he was a soloist at the Last Night of the Proms.
    Sheku was brought up in Nottingham along with his six siblings who are also extremely talented musicians. At six-years-old he went to a concert by the Nottingham Youth Orchestra where he was transfixed by the cello section. He started having lessons not long afterwards and by the age of nine he’d completed all of his music grades – receiving the highest marks in the country. At 17 he won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition.
    He went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music and made his debut at the BBC Proms as a soloist with the Chineke! Orchestra in 2017.
    In 2020 he was appointed an MBE for services to music and two years later became the Royal Academy of Music’s first Menuhin Visiting Professor of Performance Mentoring.
    DISC ONE: Cello Concerto in E minor, Op.85 - 1st movement: Adagio – Moderato. Composed by Edward Elgar and performed by Jacqueline du Pré, with the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir John Barbirolli
    DISC TWO: Rivers of Babylon -The Melodians
    DISC THREE: Dat - Pluto Shervington
    DISC FOUR: String Quartet in C major, Op 20 No. 2, Capriccio: Adagio. Composed by Joseph Haydn and performed by The London Haydn Quartet
    DISC FIVE: Chances Are - Bob Marley
    DISC SIX: Requiem in D minor, K. 626 , Introitus 1 – Requiem. Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and performed by the Monteverdi Choir
    DISC SEVEN: Symphony No.11 'The Year 1905' - II. The 9th January; Adagio. Composed by Dmitri Shostakovich and performed by The Moscow Philharmonic, conducted by Kirill Kondrashin
    DISC EIGHT: Largo from Organ Sonata No.5 in C major, BWV 529. Composed by Johan Sebastian Bach and performed by Samuel Feinberg
    Book: The Feynman Lectures on Physics by Richard Feynman
    Luxury: A cello and strings
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Requiem in D minor, K. 626 , Introitus 1 – Requiem. Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and performed by the Monteverdi Choir
    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Paula McGinley

    • 37 min
    Guli Francis-Dehqani, Church of England Bishop

    Guli Francis-Dehqani, Church of England Bishop

    The Rt Revd Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani is the Bishop of Chelmsford. She also sits in Parliament as a Lord Spiritual and last year she played a prominent role in the Coronation, administering Holy Communion to the King and Queen.
    She was born in Isfahan, central Iran, the youngest of four children to Hassan Dehqani-Tafti, the first ethnic Iranian Anglican Bishop of his country, and his wife Margaret. In 1980, in the wake of the Islamic Revolution, her family were targeted and forced to leave the country. She arrived in the UK aged 13 as a refugee. Four decades on, Guli has yet to set foot on Iranian soil.
    She was ordained as a deacon in 1998 and a priest the following year. She was consecrated a bishop in November 2017, making her the first woman from a minority ethnic background to be ordained as an Anglican bishop in the UK.
    She is the lead Bishop for Housing for the Church of England and is a contributor to BBC Radio 4s Thought for the Day. She is married to Lee, who is a priest, and they have three children.
    DISC ONE: Requiem in D Minor, Op. 48: VI. Libera me. Composed by Gabriel Fauré and performed by Stephen Varcoe (baritone), The Cambridge Singers, conducted by John Rutter
    DISC TWO: Morgh-e Sahar - Homayoun Shajarian and Dastan Ensemble
    DISC THREE: Ride on Time - Black Box
    DISC FOUR: Miniatures for Piano Trio. Set 2: No. 4, Romance. Composed by Frank Bridge and performed by Alexander Chaushian and Ashley Wass
    DISC FIVE: Variations on Bahram’s Melody. Composed by Bahram Dehqani-Tafti and performed by Gabriel Francis-Dehqani with Fiona Sweeney, Krystof Kohout and Will Harmer
    DISC SIX: Take me to Church - Sinead O’Connor
    DISC SEVEN: Sovereign Light Café - Keane
    DISC EIGHT: Mahi - Golnar Shahyar, Mahan Mirarab, (feat. Luis Guerra)
    BOOK CHOICE: The Book of Kings
    LUXURY ITEM: Photo albums
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Requiem in D Minor, Op. 48: VI. Libera me. Composed by Gabriel Fauré and performed by Stephen Varcoe (baritone), The Cambridge Singers, conducted by John Rutter
    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Paula McGinley

    • 36 min
    Graham Nash, musician

    Graham Nash, musician

    Graham William Nash is a musician, singer, songwriter and photographer. He had his first musical success as a member of the UK band The Hollies before his move to America when he sang as part of Crosby, Stills and Nash.
    Graham was born in 1942 and grew up in Salford. He found his singing voice at the age of six when he realised that not only could he sing, but he had the ability to harmonise any melody.
    He is a two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Over the years, Graham has written many hit songs for The Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash including Our House and Marrakesh Express. Alongside his critically acclaimed musical career, Graham is also a successful photographer. His photos have been on show in galleries and museums around the world.
    He lives in New York with his third wife.
    DISC ONE: Be-bop-a-Lula - Gene Vincent
    DISC TWO: Great Balls of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis
    DISC THREE: Maybe Baby - Buddy Holly and the Crickets
    DISC FOUR: Bye Bye Love - The Everly Brothers
    DISC FIVE: God Only Knows - The Beach Boys
    DISC SIX: Adagio for Strings, composed by Samuel Barber and performed by City of London Sinfonia conducted, by Richard Hickox
    DISC SEVEN: Don't Give Up - Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush
    DISC EIGHT: A Day In The Life - The Beatles
    BOOK CHOICE: The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto
    LUXURY ITEM: A sleeping bag
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: A Day In The Life - The Beatles
    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

    • 36 min
    Delia Smith, CH, CBE, cookery writer and broadcaster

    Delia Smith, CH, CBE, cookery writer and broadcaster

    Delia Smith CH CBE is one of Britain’s most popular and successful cookery writers and broadcasters.
    Her first book, How to Cheat at Cooking, was published in 1971 and she presented her first television series, Family Fare, two years later. Since then she has presented many more series and her books have sold more than 21 million copies in the UK alone. Her widespread influence has led to the phrase ‘the Delia effect’, when large numbers of shoppers sought out her recommendations.
    Delia was born in Woking in 1941, and grew up in Bexleyheath. She attended the local secondary modern school, but left without any qualifications. She eventually found work as a pot washer and then a waitress in a French restaurant in London, where the chef encouraged her interest in cooking and food.
    In 1969 she landed the job of cookery writer on the Daily Mirror’s new colour supplement. There she honed her simple, no-nonsense instructions and met her husband, Michael Wynn-Jones.
    She hung up her apron in 2013 to spend more time on her other passion - football. Delia and Michael have been long-standing supporters – and, since 1996, majority shareholders - of Norwich City FC. She lives in Suffolk countryside in the same cottage she and Michael bought as their first home.
    DISC ONE: The Sound of Silence - Paul Simon
    DISC TWO: Within You Without You - The Beatles
    DISC THREE: Gnossienne No 1. Composed by Erik Satie and performed by Alexandre Tharaud
    DISC FOUR: Caruso – composed by Lucio Dalla and performed by Luciano Pavarotti
    DISC FIVE: Kyrie: Call To Prayer – Muezzin from the Muhammad Ali Mosque, Cairo. Performed by Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, Choristers of St. George's Chapel, Windsor and composed by David Fanshawe
    DISC SIX: This Woman's Work - Kate Bush
    DISC SEVEN: He Moved Through the Fair - Sinéad O'Connor
    DISC EIGHT: Happy - Pharrell Williams
    BOOK CHOICE: Sister Wendy’s 100 Best-loved Paintings by Wendy Beckett
    LUXURY ITEM: The Desert Island Discs archive
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Kyrie: Call To Prayer – Muezzin from the Muhammad Ali Mosque, Cairo. Composed by David Fanshawe and performed by Bournemouth Symphony Chorus, Choristers of St. George's Chapel, Windsor
    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

    • 37 min
    Greta Gerwig, writer and director

    Greta Gerwig, writer and director

    Greta Gerwig is the director of the feature film Barbie - the first woman in cinematic history to have the sole director’s credit for a billion dollar blockbuster. Her previous films include Lady Bird, inspired in part by her own childhood, and Little Women, a widely acclaimed adaptation of the much-loved novel.
    Greta was born and brought up in Sacramento in California. Her parents encouraged her love of the arts and she started trying to direct her friends in productions while she was still in kindergarten. She studied English and Philosophy at Barnard College in New York where she started acting and writing.
    After she graduated she appeared in a series of low budget, improvised, so-called mumblecore films, noted for their often low-key naturalistic style. Her solo directorial debut came in 2017 with Lady Bird, starring Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. The film won two Golden Globe Awards and was nominated for five Academy Awards. Her follow up film, Little Women, received six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.
    Greta has been named president of the jury for next year's Cannes Film Festival. She lives with her partner, the writer and director Noah Baumbach, and two sons in Manhattan.
    DISC ONE: Opening: I Hope I Get It - Don Pippin, A Chorus Line Orchestra, A Chorus Line Ensemble
    DISC TWO: Pinball Wizard - The Who
    DISC THREE: Sleigh Ride - Johnny Mathis, Percy Faith & His Orchestra
    DISC FOUR: And The Grass Won’t Pay No Mind - Elvis Presley
    DISC FIVE: Moonage Daydream - David Bowie
    DISC SIX: Top Hat, White Tie and Tails - Johnny Green & His Orchestra, Fred Astaire
    DISC SEVEN: Camelot: Finale Ultimo - Camelot Orchestra conducted by Franz Allers, Original Broadway Cast of Camelot
    DISC EIGHT: Ain't Got No / I Got Life - Nina Simone
    BOOK CHOICE: The Complete Poems: Emily Dickinson
    LUXURY ITEM: A writing set
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Sleigh Ride - Johnny Mathis, Percy Faith & His Orchestra
    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Paula McGinley

    • 35 min
    Shirley Ballas, dance judge

    Shirley Ballas, dance judge

    Shirley Ballas is the head judge on Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC’s Saturday night entertainment show, which regularly attracts an audience of many millions. Known as the Queen of Latin dancing, she joined the show in 2017 after a long career as a competitive dancer and teacher.
    Shirley was born in Wallasey in 1960. She discovered dance as a seven-year-old when she started taking classes in her local church hall. With a combination of natural flair and hard graft she began winning competitions with her partners. In 1980, while she was still an amateur, she met Sammy Stopford who was ranked seventh in the world as a professional Latin dancer. Together they shot up the rankings and became known as the ‘non-stop Stopfords’.
    In 1984 she divorced Sammy and the following year she married Corky Ballas, an amateur dancer from Houston. Shirley set about training Corky to become a professional and in 1995 they won the British Open to the World Championships – a feat they repeated the following year.
    In 1996 Shirley retired from competitive dancing to concentrate on coaching dancers and judging competitions. In 2017 she joined Strictly Come Dancing, replacing her friend and former teacher Len Goodman as head judge.
    Shirley lives in south London with her mother Audrey and her boyfriend, the actor Danny Taylor.
    DISC ONE: Get Lucky - Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers
    DISC TWO: Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash
    DISC THREE: Moon River - Frank Sinatra
    DISC FOUR: Sherry - The Four Seasons
    DISC FIVE: Smells Like Teen Spirit - Nirvana
    DISC SIX: You To Me Are Everything - The Real Thing
    DISC SEVEN: Highs and Lows - Alexander Jean
    DISC EIGHT: We’ve Only Just Begun - The Carpenters
    BOOK CHOICE: Unleash the Power Within by Tony Robbins
    LUXURY ITEM: Cotton knickers
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Highs and Lows - Alexander Jean
    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Paula McGinley

    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
12.2K Ratings

12.2K Ratings

Mel MacG ,

Transformation

My heart sank when Lauren Laverne first took over and I won’t even go into the reasons because other reviewers have already painfully pointed them out … but (a) she did had enormous shoes to fill and (b) it seems like there has been a transformation of late in her questions and questioning style. For that reason alone, I’ve given this five stars. When I listen to an episode now, I often can’t help myself from saying out loud “great question!”

Shellisrkj ,

Great interviewer

I think Lauren is a great interviewer. I also enjoyed Kirsty’s style. I think it’s just different - as are all of the interviewees!
Love this podcast. And love listening to the archives.

Becstar1980 ,

Brilliant- look forward to weekly episodes

Lauren is a brilliant interviewer…I’m not sure the issue with some of the “reviewers”. Maybe an age thing or perhaps some people don’t like change.
I’ve listened to older episodes and Lauren’s style is much more relatable and she packs a lot in to an episode.
Also…these episodes are edited!
Ade Edmondson episode especially -really excellent- so much so I got the book.
I’m on my 40’s but found a lot of his life experiences (boarding school, parents etc) totally relatable.
I like the way some of the guests aren’t “well known”. Well not by celebrity standards.
The British lady working for NASA- fascinating.

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