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
    • 4.9 • 9 Ratings

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

    Helen Oxenbury

    Helen Oxenbury

    Helen Oxenbury is an illustrator of children’s books whose work has featured in many very popular titles for younger readers including the award-winning We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen.

    Helen has won the Kate Greenaway Medal twice and was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Book Trust in 2018. She attended the Ipswich School of Art and later the Central School of Art in London where she met fellow illustrator and her future husband, John Burningham.

    After the birth of her children she began illustrating children’s books, working at the kitchen table long after they’d gone to bed. Her work for Ivor Cutler’s Meal One, published in 1971, was praised by Spare Rib magazine for its portrayal of a single mother and her relationship with her young son.

    Helen came up with the idea of her baby board books in the late 1970s after the birth of her third child who suffered with eczema. Discovering that her daughter could be distracted from scratching by looking at baby catalogues, Helen created a series of board books placing babies and toddlers at their heart. Such a concept was unheard of at the time.

    From the late 1980s, Helen ensured that the babies and children featured in her books came from different ethnic backgrounds and her work in So Much by Trish Cooke has become a children’s classic. In We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, published in 1989, Helen’s pictures celebrated the joy of adventure and the bond between siblings.

    DISC ONE: America by Marilyn Cooper, Chita Rivera and Shark Girls
    DISC TWO: Mir Ist So Wunderbar by Ludwig van Beethoven, conducted by Mark Elder, performed by London Philharmonic Orchestra. Tenor: Andrew Kennedy, Soprano: Lisa Milne, Soprano: Anja Kampe, Bass: Brindley Sherratt
    DISC THREE: Tubby The Tuba by Danny Kaye
    DISC FOUR: Lullaby of Birdland by Erroll Garner
    DISC FIVE: Episode 1of Life In A Scotch Sitting Room Vol. II by Ivor Cutler ‎
    DISC SIX: Schubert ’s Impromptu No. 3 in G flat D899 by Alfred Brendel, (piano)
    conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras
    DISC SEVEN: Singin’ in the Rain by Gene Kelly
    DISC EIGHT: Les Pecheurs de Perles, Act 1: Romance: Mi par d'udir ancora (Je crois entendre encore) by Beniamino Gigli, conducted by Eugene Goossens

    BOOK CHOICE: The Empire Trilogy by JG Farrell
    LUXURY ITEM: A bed with an unlimited supply of white linen sheets
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Les Pecheurs de Perles, Act 1: Romance: Mi par d'udir ancora (Je crois entendre encore) by Beniamino Gigli, conducted by Eugene Goossens

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

    • 37 min
    Arsène Wenger, former football manager

    Arsène Wenger, former football manager

    Arsène Wenger was the manager of Arsenal FC for 22 years, becoming the longest-serving and most successful manager in the club’s history.

    He was born in Strasbourg in 1949 and grew up as the youngest of three children in the nearby village of Duttlenheim, where his parents ran a bistro. There he listened in to the daily conversations about football, which preoccupied the men of the village.

    After playing for his local team and studying for a degree in economics, Arsène made a career as a footballer in France for a decade, before moving into management. He coached in France, Monaco and Japan before joining Arsenal in 1996. At that point he was a complete unknown in English football, but soon proved his doubters wrong. He took a declining mid-table side to Premier League glory within two years, going on to win two further Premierships and a record number of FA Cups. In 2003-4 his so-called Invincibles achieved a record-breaking run of 49 matches without defeat.

    He also won a reputation as an innovator, changing his players’ diets and contributing to the globalisation of soccer by signing overseas players and scouting young talent from across the world. He was instrumental in building a new home for Arsenal, when the club moved from Highbury to the brand new Emirates Stadium

    Arsène retired from Arsenal in 2018 and took up a post as FIFA’s head of Global Football Development the following year. He is separated from his partner Annie Brosterhous. They have one grown-up daughter, Léa.

    DISC ONE: Could You Be Loved by Bob Marley And The Wailers
    DISC TWO: Imagine by John Lennon
    DISC THREE: Avec Le Temps by Léo Ferré
    DISC FOUR: Your Song by Elton John
    DISC FIVE: Évidemment by France Gall
    DISC SIX: The Wonder of You by Elvis Presley
    DISC SEVEN: Ne Me Quitte Pas by Jacques Brel
    DISC EIGHT: My Way by Frank Sinatra

    BOOK CHOICE: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
    LUXURY ITEM: A ball
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Avec Le Temps by Léo Ferré

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Cathy Drysdale

    • 49 min
    Sir Keir Starmer, Leader of the Opposition

    Sir Keir Starmer, Leader of the Opposition

    Sir Keir Starmer is the leader of the Labour Party, and the leader of the opposition.

    Named after Keir Hardie, a founding father of the Labour party, he was elected leader seven months ago in the wake of Labour’s heavy defeat in the 2019 general election.

    He stood for, and won, the leadership on a platform of party unity but his resolve has been tested recently by factionalism and infighting. Following the publication of the highly critical Equality and Human Rights Commission report, he has vowed to tackle the issue of anti-Semitism in the party and heal division within the party ranks.

    He grew up in Oxted, Surrey, the son of a toolmaker and a nurse. His formative years were clouded by his mother’s debilitating illness: she suffered from Still’s disease, an autoimmune disease, and as a young boy he spent a lot of his time at her hospital bedside.

    His political awakening came at 16 when he joined the East Surrey Young Socialists and later he was one of the editors of the radical magazine Socialist Alternatives. After university he had a high-profile career as a human rights lawyer representing prisoners on death row and advising the new Police Service of Northern Ireland which was set up as part of the Good Friday Agreement. In 2008 he changed tack and became the director of Public Prosecutions before switching to politics. In 2015 he was elected to the House of Commons as MP for Holborn and St Pancras.

    DISC ONE: Out on the Floor by Dobie Gray
    DISC TWO: Symphony No. 6 in F major, op. 68 “Pastoral” (5th) Movement by Beethoven, conducted by Herbert von Karajan, performed by Berlin Philharmonic
    DISC THREE: Welcome to My World by Jim Reeves
    DISC FOUR: Falling and Laughing by Orange Juice
    DISC FIVE: Oh Happy Day by The Edwin Hawkins Singers
    DISC SIX: Three Lions by Baddiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds
    DISC SEVEN: Piano Concerto No.5, 2nd movement, Adagio un pocco mosso by Beethoven, performed by Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (pianist and director) and Swedish Chamber Orchestra
    DISC EIGHT: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Artists For Grenfell, featuring Stormzy

    BOOK CHOICE: A very detailed Atlas
    LUXURY ITEM: A Football
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Piano Concerto No.5, 2nd movement, Adagio un pocco mosso by Beethoven, performed by Jean-Efflam Bavouzet (pianist and director) and Swedish Chamber Orchestra

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

    • 37 min
    David Mitchell, novelist

    David Mitchell, novelist

    David Mitchell has published eight novels, two of which – number9dream and Cloud Atlas – have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

    He has also translated two books on autism from Japanese, working with his Japanese wife: their son is on the autistic spectrum. While his work also includes writing for the screen and opera libretti, his main occupation has been, as one critic put it, “quietly pottering away at the frontier of fiction” for more than two decades.

    David is the son of two artists, and grew up near the Malverns, where his father worked in the art department of the Royal Worcester porcelain factory. After studying at the University of Kent, he worked in a bookshop, and moved to Japan in the mid-1990s to teach English. Here he met his wife and put his mind to writing. His first two novels were published while still living in Hiroshima.

    With each standalone novel, David is also adding to what he calls an uber-novel in which all of his books are part of a larger narrative, with characters flitting from one story to another, transported to a different time and place, but bringing a familiarity and a backstory with them.

    He now lives in County Cork, Ireland, with his wife and two children.

    DISC ONE: Sunset by Kate Bush
    DISC TWO: Requiem Op. 33b, For Mixed Choir A Cappela / Fyrir Blandadan Kór A Capella.
    Performed by Motet Choir Of The Hallgrím's Church, chorus Master: Hörður Áskelsson
    DISC THREE: Mercury by Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhli, James McAlister
    DISC FOUR: Un Dia De Noviembre by Zsofia Boros
    DISC FIVE: Anima by Milton Nascimento
    DISC SIX: Stylo by Gorillaz, featuring Bobby Womack and Mos Def
    DISC SEVEN: In a Sentimental Mood by Duke Ellington and John Coltrane
    DISC EIGHT: Sonata in F minor, K466, composed by Domenico Scarlatti, performed by
    Yevgeny Sudbin

    BOOK CHOICE: A book of Chinese characters (Kanji)
    LUXURY ITEM: A complete archive of Desert Island Discs
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Anima by Milton Nascimento

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor.

    • 36 min
    Hilary McGrady, Director General of the National Trust

    Hilary McGrady, Director General of the National Trust

    Hilary McGrady is Director General of the National Trust.

    She was born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, in 1966, where her father was a builder while her mother looked after Hilary and her two older siblings. She spent her childhood roaming the fields near her home, 20 miles outside Belfast. She went to art college after school where she met her husband, Frank. Their relationship initially caused difficulty for her family who were staunch Protestants and unionists, while Frank’s came from a Catholic, nationalist area.

    After finishing her degree in Graphic Design, Hilary worked as a designer before moving into marketing and then into the charity sector for an organisation called Arts & Business. After working on Belfast’s ultimately unsuccessful bid to become European Capital of Culture she joined the National Trust in 2006 as regional director for Northern Ireland. She moved around the organisation, taking on ever bigger roles with every move, becoming Chief Operating Officer in 2014. She succeeded Dame Helen Ghosh as Director General in March 2018. Her major priority for the National Trust over the next decade is to tackle climate change and biodiversity, and she set out a ten-year plan in January 2020 to coincide with the Trust’s 125th anniversary.

    Hilary lives in County Antrim with her husband. They have three grown-up children, a dog and 16 ducks. She lists her interests as the arts, gardening and hill walking.

    DISC ONE: The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, performed by Tasmin Little (violin) and BBC Symphony Orchestra
    DISC TWO: How Great Thou Art by Chris Rice
    DISC THREE: Blue Monday by New Order
    DISC FOUR: She Moved Through The Fair by Cara Dillon
    DISC FIVE: One by U2
    DISC SIX: Just Say Yes by Snow Patrol
    DISC SEVEN: Gabriel's Oboe by Ennio Morricone
    DISC EIGHT: Paradise by George Ezra

    BOOK CHOICE: A Poem for Every Day of the Year by Allie Asiri
    LUXURY ITEM: Painting set and easel
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: She Moved Through the Fair by Cara Dillon

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Cathy Drysdale

    • 34 min
    Chris Boardman, cyclist

    Chris Boardman, cyclist

    Chris Boardman is an Olympic cyclist, businessman and the Cycling and Walking Commissioner for Greater Manchester.
    Both his parents were keen competitive amateur cyclists and they backed Chris as he gradually became interested in the sport as a teenager. He left school at 16, and trained as a carpenter to fund his cycling, and his love of making things has never left him. He met his wife Sally when they were teenagers and she supported him when he took time off work to train and compete.
    He became a household name in 1992 at the Olympics in Barcelona, as the first British cyclist to win a gold medal in 72 years. He moved on to road racing and wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France on three occasions. After retiring from racing, he was instrumental in the success of Team GB cycling at subsequent Olympics, with his focus on how improvements could be made in all aspects of design.
    He also launched his own range of bicycles catering for elite and everyday cyclists, and as Greater Manchester's Cycling and Walking commissioner, he is finding ways to help people leave their cars at home.

    DISC ONE: Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra
    DISC TWO: Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) by Baz Luhrmann
    DISC THREE: Hurt Feelings by Flight of the Conchords
    DISC FOUR: The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) by Simon and Garfunkel
    DISC FIVE: Barcelona by Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballé
    DISC SIX: Sympathy for the Devil by The Rolling Stones
    DISC SEVEN: Embrace Me, You Child by Carly Simon
    DISC EIGHT: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John

    BOOK CHOICE: Feersum Endjinn by Iain M. Banks
    LUXURY ITEM: Butter
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy) by Simon and Garfunkel

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

    • 35 min

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4.9 out of 5
9 Ratings

9 Ratings

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