Stranded on a Desert Island

Desert Island Discs evokes strong memories for me. As a kid, when I was in the car with my dad travelling home after a weekend, it would invariably be on and I would be subjected to listening to people I’d never heard of being interviewed, choosing pieces of classical music I had no interest in.

In fact, the only time I ever remember someone not choosing a non-classical piece was when the boxer Alan Minter was being quizzed and he picked Boney M’s Brown Girl In The Ring, although I'm sure he wasn’t the first. 

Those were the days when the dulcet tones of Roy Plomley would introduce the week’s castaway when Radio 4 seemed like the last thing on earth I’d ever want to listen to regularly. 

But now, 30-odd years on, with the arrival of the weekly podcast, Desert Island Discs has become staple listening. 

Part of the attraction are the mellifluous tones of Kirsty Young, who has the most soothing voice – a voice made for radio, dare one say it.  

But the diversity of the guests are what makes DID so appealing. In the past couple of months you could have listened to Morrissey, Michael Caine, Professor Mary Beard, James Ellroy and Mary Portas to name but a few. 

Often the names are household, but there are always a few less well-known guests – often the ones who end up being the most interesting. 

While Desert Island Discs is not exactly the confessional box, the intimate nature of radio and the polite, yet incisive questioning of Kirsty Young mean you do get an insight into people that you probably wouldn’t get from, say, a Michael Parkinson grilling, or a magazine feature. 

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