Over the last few years Desert Island Discs is something I’ve come to love. I had listened to it before but didn’t properly appreciate the range of stories and depth of emotion the program can provide.
It recently celebrated its 75th anniversary with a wonderful highlights episode. Whether or not you normally listen to Desert Island Discs, I urge you to listen it. If it’s your first time it’ll give you a few starting points at which to burrow into the archive.
The number of episodes now available is staggering. The variety of life is incredible. There are stories that will make you laugh, cry, fume with anger and learn new things.
People beloved by the public, celebrities in the truest sense of the world, present as their glittering selves, each with touching stories to tell.
The list of highlights is almost endless: Stephen Fry, David Attenborough, David Mitchell, David Beckham, Mary Berry, Hugh Laurie, Keith Richards, Debbie Harry, Terry Wogan, Dawn French, Emma Thompson, Sir Michael Caine, Yoko Ono, Bruce Springsteen, Dustin Hoffman, Louis Armstrong and so on.
The format has remained the same but, for me at least, it’s not really about the music choices or the luxuries, it’s about the people. Kirsty Young is the host for me but with decades of human life to explore, it’s worth diving into the older episodes.
Here are a few of my personal favourites that shouldn’t be overlooked. It was tough to get it down to ten but luckily you’re not limited in choice so go listen to them all. Find the castaway for you.
Is there a more affable chap in Hollywood? He’s a cinematic superstar yet retains an air of approachability, that of an old friend. This is an episode to listen to while sitting back and letting his beautiful dulcet tones wash over you.
If ever there was a case of someone revealing the difference between public perception and their true personality, this is it. Sharp as a knife and wonderfully interesting.
Another A-lister but, like Tom Hanks, Dame Judi speaks with a familiarity which is so engaging. She’s also hilarious.
Steve McQueen (Director)
An insight into the mind of a true artist.
Another modern genius. Opinionated, steadfast and almost unnerving in his passion, dedication and borderline madness.
In this episode, Johnny Vegas is brilliantly funny. But more than that, this is one of the most emotional stories. Truly touching.
Down to earth, funny and incredibly interesting.
The king of comedy. The 2001 episode is my favourite, he’s older, wiser and gives even less of a stuff.
Bubbly, hilarious and a wonderful storyteller. Hollywood gold!
Sharp and determined, you can’t help but hang on her every word. One of the most interesting stories in world sport.