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“Desert Island Discs” at 70

January 31, 2012

Admit it, we’ve all done it, haven’t we?  We’ve all compiled our own Desert Island Discs playlist at some point in our life; the eight tracks we would take with us if cast away to some remote, lonely island.  That’s surely part of the enduring appeal of the Radio 4 programme which celebrated its 70th anniversary at the weekend; the idea that music is something that we simply cannot live without.

Desert Island discs at 70 from BBC Radio 4

There’s more to it than that, of course.  For me one of the great joys of the programme is that the music choices of the guests often reveal more about them than you would ever learn from a regular interview.   Sir Ian McKellen boogieing on the beach to “Dancing Queen”, anyone?  David Mitchell contemplating the sunset to the strains of “The Rainbow Connection” by Kermit the Frog?  Marvelous stuff.  There’s also something about the less formal nature of the interview that encourages greater frankness in the guests when talking about themselves.

And now, of course, there is the Desert Island Discs Archive where you can download old editions of the programme to keep.  They’ve just added all of Michael Parkinson’s 96 episodes recorded between 1985 to 1988 which means there are now 1092 episodes available.

I’m an avid downloader.  The programmes are perfect for the many long car journeys I make for work.  I love to listen to them as I drive around the country going to and from my various gigs.  Favourites from the archive so far include Brian Blessed, Bob Monkhouse and Oliver Postgate.

Now, I know I said we’ve all done it, but please don’t ask me what my eight tracks would be.  I thought about compiling a list for this post, but every time I look back at it I think of something else to add!  At the last count, there were 148 tracks on the list.  Maybe when I get “the call” from current presenter Kirsty Young I’ll work on pinning it down, but for now it’s just fun to think about it.

Happy 70th Birthday Desert Island Discs!

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