Eight tracks, a book and a luxury: what would you take to a desert island? Guests share the soundtrack of their lives.
David Harewood, actor and presenter
David Harewood is a British actor and presenter who found global fame playing the CIA director David Estes in the acclaimed TV drama series Homeland. He was the first black actor to play Othello at the National theatre in 1997 and took the role of Martin Luther King in the Olivier award-winning play The Mountaintop in 2009.
David was born in Birmingham in 1965. After one of his teachers suggested that he should try his luck at acting, he won a place at RADA where he tackled a number of challenging roles including King Lear. After graduating, he performed in a range of television and theatre productions, but by the time he auditioned for Homeland he says he was down to his last £80. He joined the cast of Homeland in 2011 and the following year he was awarded an MBE for services to drama.
In 2019 he presented a BBC documentary called Psychosis and Me which told the story of the mental breakdown he experienced as a young man. The programme was nominated for a BAFTA award and was praised by critics for its honest exploration of a difficult subject and for helping to remove some of the stigma around mental health. He went on to present a range of documentaries which addressed subjects close to his heart including the health inequality exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the experience of slavery within the history of his own family.
David lives in London with his wife and their two daughters.
DISC ONE: Exodus by Bob Marley & The Wailers
DISC TWO: Tears on My Pillow by Johnny Nash
DISC THREE: One in Ten by UB40
DISC FOUR: $29.00 by Tom Waits
DISC FIVE: I Still Haven’t found what I’m Looking For by The Chimes
DISC SIX: (Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding
DISC SEVEN: Cruisin’ by D’Angelo
DISC EIGHT: Ain’t Nobody by Rufus and Chaka Khan
BOOK CHOICE: The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
LUXURY ITEM: A disco dancefloor
CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Ain’t Nobody by Rufus and Chaka Khan
Presenter Lauren Laverne
Producer Paula McGinley
Ellie Simmonds, swimmer
Ellie Simmonds has competed at four Paralympic Games, winning five gold medals and breaking world records on the way. She first came to national attention at the age of 13, when she won two golds at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics, and became the youngest person ever to be awarded an MBE a few months later.
Ellie is the youngest of five children and was born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. Swimming was central to her life from a very early age, and her ambition to compete at the highest level was sparked by watching the Athens 2004 Paralympics on TV at the age of nine, when her mother told her she could take part at any age, as long as she was good enough.
She became the face of the London 2012 Paralympics and won a further two gold medals, followed by another gold in Rio in 2016. Shortly after taking part in the Tokyo Paralympics last year, she announced her retirement from competitive swimming at the age of 26.
She recently presented TV documentaries on conservation and on the controversies surrounding drug treatments for achondroplasia.
DISC ONE: Proud by Heather Small
DISC TWO: Own It by Stormzy ft Ed Sheeran and Burna Boy
DISC THREE: Toxic by Britney Spears
DISC FOUR: Lose Yourself by Eminem
DISC FIVE: Paradise by Coldplay
DISC SIX: Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves
DISC SEVEN: Unforgettable by French Montana feat. Swae Lee
DISC EIGHT: Rocket Man by Elton John
BOOK CHOICE: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
LUXURY ITEM: A diary and pen
CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Rocket Man by Elton John
Presenter Lauren Laverne
Producer Sarah Taylor
Bradley Walsh, presenter and actor
Bradley Walsh is a familiar face to many millions of TV viewers, as the host of quiz shows including The Chase and Blankety-Blank, and as an actor in dramas such as Doctor Who and The Larkins.
Bradley was born in Watford and after leaving school at 16 he was apprenticed to the local Rolls-Royce factory as a jet engineer. A keen footballer, he signed to Brentford FC when he was 19 but his career was cut short by injury after only two seasons with the club.
He dealt with this blow by turning his attention to the entertainment business. He worked as a Pontin’s bluecoat and then tried his luck as a stand-up comedian - doing impressions and telling jokes at working men’s clubs. In 1986 he turned professional, and his first booking was a stint at the Pavilion Theatre on Cromer Pier. Later he became the support act for performers including Dame Shirley Bassey, Leo Sayer and Sir Tom Jones.
In 1997 he hosted the quiz show Wheel of Fortune and three years later got his first acting role in the Channel 4 series Lock Stock….a spin-off from Guy Ritchie’s 1998 feature film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He followed this up with roles in Coronation Street, Law & Order: UK and Doctor Who
Bradley released his debut album Chasing Dreams, featuring his interpretations of popular standards, in 2016. In that year it became the biggest-selling debut album by a British artist.
Bradley lives in Essex with his wife Donna and their son Barney who appears alongside him in the television series Bradley & Barney Walsh: Breaking Dad.
DISC ONE: Life on Mars? by David Bowie
DISC TWO: March of the Mods by Joe Loss Orchestra
DISC THREE: Bye Bye Baby by Bay City Rollers
DISC FOUR: I’m Mandy Fly Me by 10cc
DISC FIVE: Firefly by Tony Bennett
DISC SIX: The Hungry Years by Neil Sedaka
DISC SEVEN: Always and Forever by Heatwave
DISC EIGHT: That’s Life (Remastered 2008) by Frank Sinatra
BOOK CHOICE: The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas
LUXURY ITEM: A set of golf clubs and balls
CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Always and Forever by Heatwave
Presenter: Lauren Laverne
Producer: Paula McGinley
Fiona Hill, foreign affairs specialist
Fiona Hill is a foreign affairs specialist who advised Presidents George W Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. She came to wider public attention in 2019 when she testified against President Trump during his first impeachment.
Fiona was born in Bishop Auckland, County Durham. Her father was a former coal miner who worked as a hospital porter and her mother was a midwife. After graduating in Russian and History from St Andrews University, she won a scholarship to read Soviet Studies at Harvard. She spent the next three decades establishing herself as a policy expert on Russia.
In 2017 she joined the National Security Council at the White House as deputy assistant to President Trump and senior director for Europe and Russia. She left the administration in 2019 and later that year she testified to the US Congress as a witness in the hearings which led up to Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020.
Fiona’s performance and North East accent caused a stir and her personal story was discussed in American newspapers and on television. Strangers in the street thanked her, but she also received death threats from people who opposed the observations she recounted during her testimony.
Fiona is a senior research fellow at the Brookings Institution, a think tank based in Washington DC. She became an American citizen in 2002.
DISC ONE: Message in a Bottle by The Police
DISC TWO: It’s only a Paper Moon by Ella Fitzgerald
DISC THREE: Ghost Town by The Specials
DISC FOUR: The Passenger by Iggy Pop
DISC FIVE: Goodbye America by Nautilus Pompilius
DISC SIX: On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons
DISC SEVEN: Hypersonic Missiles by Sam Fender
DISC EIGHT: This is the Day by The The
BOOK CHOICE: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Fiona writes about how her dad saved up to buy the Encyclopaedia Britannica – you’ll find the story in the Background section.
LUXURY ITEM: Crystallised ginger
CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: This is the Day by The The
Presenter: Lauren Laverne
Producer: Paula McGinley
Desert Island Discoveries - Lauren Laverne and Vick Hope
Lauren shares handpicked gems from the Desert Island Discs back-catalogue with Radio 1 presenter Vick Hope, including Bob Mortimer, Maya Angelou, Joe Wicks, Sophia Loren, Tom Hanks, Dame Pat McGrath and Sinéad Burke.
Classic Desert Island Discs - George Michael
Kirsty Young's castaway this week is George Michael, in a programme first broadcast in 2007. As a singer and songwriter he has enjoyed massive global success for a quarter of a century. He's sold more than 100 million records, won two Grammy awards and notched up countless number one hits.
His ability to write, produce, and perform perfect pop songs is unquestioned. But along with the career highs, there have been lows too: he lost a long wrangle with his record company, was crippled by bereavement and for years questions about his sexuality were a matter of newspaper headlines until he was spectacularly outed a decade ago. In a rare interview, George Michael talks candidly to Kirsty Young about how he regained his emotional and professional confidence - and is now a happier and more peaceful man.
[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]
Favourite track: Love is a Losing Game by Amy Winehouse
Book: Any book of short stories by Doris Lessing
Luxury: DB9 car.
This is the best way to spend a good part of an hour any day of the week. Grab a cup of tea and enjoy!!
Excellent show. I wish the songs were longer
Love the guests, the host, and way the conversations flow. This is a wonderful way to discover new music. I only wish that the music were longer.
what a gem!
If I were sent off to an island, my luxury item would be this series. I discovered it only a few weeks ago, and had no idea of it’s rich history. Better late than never!