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Desert Island Discs

As BBC institutions go, Desert Island Discs is easily one of the most recognisable.

Running since 1942, the radio programme has boasted countless world-famous guests who punctuate their life story with the help of eight musical tracks.

From actors, authors and activists to performers and philanthropists, guests share the songs which they would choose to bring to a desert island, and ultimately provide the listener with a snapshot of their life rarely shown in a regular interviews set-up.

Currently hosted by Kirsty Young, the Sunday morning show is available as a weekly podcast, and here are just 8 reasons why it needs to go to the top of your list.

1. Kirsty's tone of voice

Her soft Scottish brogue is undeniably one of the most appealing aspects of the weekly podcast.

Having replaced Sue Lawley as presenter back in 2006, Kirsty definitely has a way of getting her guests to open up in a manner not possessed by all her predecessors.

2. The discovery of new music

Discovering new music is easily one of the best things about Desert Island Discs, and if you have a particular fondness for a guest it's always interesting to know why a particular track means so much to them.

There are few people who listen to the weekly programme, and don't instantly update their music library afterwards.

3. The memorial moments

Over the course of the last 75 years, the show has had its fair share of memorable moments, confessions and reveals from some of the world's most renowned stars.

Always deftly navigated by Kirsty, the listener is quite regularly privy to remarkable conversations which rarely feel scripted, edited or peppered with soundbites.

4. The chosen book

In addition to choosing eight tracks, each guest is required to choose one book they would like to bring to the island with them.

BBC kindly gift them with the Bible (or Koran or Torah as appropriate) before marooning them, although not all guests are particularly impressed by the suggestion they might ever turn a page in the religious tomes.

5. The oh-so-important luxury

And in an effort to make decades alone seem more appealing, the good folk behind the programme also allow the guest to choose a luxury item which might make their time on the island a bit more bearable.

George Michael chose a car (despite at the time being banned from driving) Lily Allen chose her daughter's blankie, Ricky Gervais chose a vat of Novacaine while Simon Cowell, unsurprisingly, chose a mirror.

6. The tearful moments

There is something particularly refreshing about an interview which doesn't attempt to sidestep the subject's more difficult periods.

From Kylie Minogue recalling her relationship with the late Michael Hutchence to Jo Malone recalling her husband's battle with a life-threatening illness, the candid nature of the programme does much to set it apart.

7. The question you didn't know you wanted answered.

When it comes to Desert Island Discs, you always know you're in for an in-depth, no-holds-barred conversation, but often times the guest is thrown a curve ball and asked to reflect on a particular period in their life which you didn't realise you were so fascinated by.

And whether it's Kirsty's engaging manner or other extenuating factors, guests will almost always spill the deets.

8. The theme song

By The Sleepy Lagoon is like clutching a hot mug of tea or stepping into a warm bath – comforting, reassuring and utterly calming.

And if you don't believe us, have a listen for yourself…

Credit: Images BBC


Man of the moment, Ed Sheeran, appeared on BBC Radio Four’s Desert Island Discs yesterday and listeners learned a lot about the singer’s childhood, his relationship with fame and of course, his taste in music.

The iconic radio show was first broadcast in January 1942 and has been a firm favourite with listeners ever since.

Each week a guest, dubbed the ‘castaway’, is asked to choose eight recordings they would want to have with them if they were stranded on a desert island.

The guest then discusses their choices with presenter, Kirsty Young.

So, what were Ed’s top picks?

Layla – Derek and the Dominos

Carrickfergus – Van Morrison & the Chieftains

Stan – Eminem

Volcano – Damien Rice

Flooded Quarry – Nizlopi

They Won’t Go When I Go – Stevie Wonder

Indian Sunset – Elton John

Two Shades of Hope – Foy Vance

Twitter absolutely loved Ed’s eclectic choice – and we don’t blame them. The boy’s got good taste.

Ed also revealed he “couldn’t really hold a tune until [he] was 16” and admits that his love of Eminem helped him overcome a speech impediment. 

Guests on the show are also allowed to pick one book and one luxury item they would bring to the desert island.

The Galway Girl singer chose, the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, and as for the luxury item?

A lifetime’s supply of ketchup.

Whatever makes you happy, Ed! 



In the week following Ed Sheeran's two sell-out shows at Dublin's 3Arena, the singer has revealed that he is set to appear on the new series of BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs next month.

The iconic radio show was first broadcast in January 1942 and has been a firm favourite with listeners ever since.

Each week a guest, dubbed the ‘castaway’, is asked to choose eight recordings they would want to have with them if they were stranded on a desert island.

The guest then discusses their picks with presenter, Kirsty Young.

According to NME, Ed will also choose a book and a luxury item to take to the fictional island.

He follows the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Kylie Minogue and Michael Bublé who have all previously been guests on the show.

The Galway Girl singer has already recorded his episode which is due to air on Sunday, May 7 at 11.15am, and we can't wait to hear what he picks.

Oh, and while we have you; don't forget to have your say in the inaugural SHEmazing Awards this May! It's time to vote, and you can do it right here!