Podcast

Desert Island Discs

Eight tracks, a book and a luxury: what would you take to a desert island? Guests share the soundtrack of their lives.

Episodes

  • Baroness Hale of Richmond, former judge.

    Sep 19 2021

    Brenda Hale, Baroness Hale of Richmond, is a former judge who served as the first female president of the Supreme Court. In 2019 she announced the court’s judgement that the prorogation of Parliament was ‘unlawful, void and of no effect’. The twinkling spider brooch she wore that day caused a sensation and set social media aflame. She was the first woman and the youngest person to be appointed to the Law Commission and in 2004 became the UK’s first woman law lord. Lady Hale was born in Yorks...more

  • Michael Holding, cricketer

    Sep 12 2021

    Michael Holding is a cricket commentator and former West Indies bowler. He’s widely regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers in the history of international cricket. In July 2020 when rain stopped play during the television coverage of a Test Match, he gave an unscripted four minute monologue on institutional racism in sport and society in the wake of the death of George Floyd. His spontaneous eloquence won him widespread acclaim, including a Royal Television Society award. Michael was born...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Lauren Bacall

    Sep 05 2021

    Roy Plomley talks to the actor Lauren Bacall in a programme first broadcast in 1979.

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Charlie Watts

    Aug 29 2021

    Sue Lawley talks to the Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, who died at the age of 80 on 24 August 2021. The programme was first broadcast in 2001.

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Steve McQueen

    Aug 22 2021

    Kirsty Young talks to the director Steve McQueen in a programme first broadcast in 2014.

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Ruth Jones

    Aug 15 2021

    Lauren Laverne talks to the actor and writer Ruth Jones in a programme first broadcast in 2019.

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Tom Daley

    Aug 08 2021

    Lauren Laverne talks to the diver Tom Daley, in a programme first broadcast in 2018.

  • Nazir Afzal, lawyer

    Aug 01 2021

    Nazir Afzal is a solicitor and the former chief crown prosecutor for north-west England. Among his notable cases, he brought the Rochdale sex grooming gangs to trial in 2012. Nazir’s parents arrived in the UK from Pakistan in 1961 and he was born in Birmingham the following year. After completing his legal training he started his career as a defence lawyer but soon realised that he preferred prosecution to defence, joining the Crown Prosecution Service in 1991. As director of prosecutions fo...more

  • Robert Macfarlane, writer

    Jul 25 2021

    Robert Macfarlane is a writer whose books about the natural world, including The Wild Places and The Old Ways, have won many prizes and taken root in the best-seller charts. He was born into a family of enthusiastic amateur climbers and his early memories include being carried up the Cairngorms on his father's back. This childhood experience led to a lifelong passion, and inspired his first book, Mountains of the Mind, about the complex human fascination with mountains. His interest in the w...more

  • Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, athlete

    Jul 18 2021

    Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill is an Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion heptathlete, and is one of the most successful women in British sporting history. She was the face of Team GB during the 2012 London Olympics, and her image adorned billboards and hoardings across the country in the run up to the Games. Born in Sheffield, Jessica discovered sport as a youngster after attending a local athletics camp during the school holidays. By the time she was 13 she was working with a coach...more

  • Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, veterinary surgeon.

    Jul 12 2021

    Professor Noel Fitzpatrick is a veterinary surgeon who presents the television series The Supervet. He has pushed the boundaries of treatment available to animals and has developed ground breaking surgery including fitting the world’s first bionic leg on a dog. Noel was born in Ballyfin in Ireland where his father Sean was a farmer. As a very small boy Noel’s job was to count the sheep at night which he credits as the catalyst for his enduring love of animals. He completed his training in Ir...more

  • Paul Costelloe, fashion designer

    Jul 04 2021

    Paul Costelloe is a fashion designer who recently celebrated his 36th year showing at London Fashion Week, making him the event’s longest-standing designer. Paul was born in Dublin where his father ran a successful company making raincoats. He studied at the Grafton Academy of Fashion Design and then moved to Paris where he started a fashion course at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture but felt out of his depth and soon dropped out. He talked his way into a job with the eccentric French d...more

  • Margaret Busby, publisher

    Jun 27 2021

    Margaret Busby is a publisher and editor who was the chair of the Booker Prize jury in 2020. She has spent a life time in the literary world and was the youngest person and first black woman to set up a publishing house when she was twenty three years old. Together with Clive Allison, she created Allison and Busby based in Soho, London. Margaret was born in Ghana in the 1940s and spent her childhood at a boarding school in the UK whilst her parents ran a medical practice in rural Ghana. She...more

  • Richard Wilson, actor and director

    Jun 20 2021

    Richard Wilson is an actor and director who became a household name when he played the part of Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave. Richard was born in Greenock in Scotland in 1936. As a child he performed in amateur drama productions and harboured a secret desire to become an actor. He left school at 17 and trained as a laboratory technician at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow. Following National Service in Singapore, he moved to London and at the age of 27 successfully audit...more

  • Yo-Yo Ma, musician

    Jun 13 2021

    Yo-Yo Ma is a cellist and one of the world's most high-profile classical musicians. He has performed for eight US Presidents, appeared in concert halls across the globe and reached new audiences through film soundtracks and TV shows including The Simpsons and Sesame Street. Yo-Yo Ma was born in Paris in 1955. His Chinese-born parents were both musicians and his father was his first cello teacher. The family moved to the USA when Yo-Yo was seven, and a noted child prodigy, playing for John F K...more

  • Heather Hallett, former judge and crossbench peer

    Jun 06 2021

    Heather Hallett, Baroness Hallett of Rye, is a former judge and a cross-bench peer. Called to the Bar in 1972, Heather practised family, civil and criminal law, eventually specialising in criminal law. In 1989 she became a QC and was the first woman to chair the Bar Council in 1998. She was only the fifth woman to be appointed to the Court of Appeal in 2005 and was appointed vice president of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division in 2013. Heather was born in Eastleigh in Hampshire. Her fathe...more

  • Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, charity CEO

    May 30 2021

    Amanda Khozi Mukwashi is the chief executive of Christian Aid, leading development and humanitarian work in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean. Amanda was born in Twickenham and grew up in Zambia and Rome where her stepfather worked in the diplomatic service. She studied international trade and investment law at the University of Zambia in Lusaka and during this time she began to develop her political outlook and commitment to the issue of social justice. She mo...more

  • Alexei Sayle, comedian

    May 23 2021

    Alexei Sayle is a comedian and writer, who began his career just over 40 years ago at the small Comedy Store venue in London, which proved a launch-pad for a new generation of comic stars. Alexei was born in Liverpool, where his parents were loyal members of the Communist Party: their politics informed almost every aspect of the family’s life, including holidays by train to eastern European countries that were then part of the Soviet bloc. He won a place at Chelsea School of Art but didn’t t...more

  • Brian Greene

    May 16 2021

    Brian Greene is a theoretical physicist, mathematician and writer, whose area of research is string theory. His books and broadcasts distil the complexities of science for a general audience, leading one critic to say appreciatively “he speaks maths, physics and human.” Born in New York City, his father taught him the basics of arithmetic when he was a toddler and by the time he was five Brian was multiplying 30-digit numbers by 30-digit numbers - just for the pure joy of working things out by ...more

  • Billie Piper, actor

    May 09 2021

    Billie Piper is an Olivier Award winning actor and former pop star. She was born in Swindon in September 1982, and her parents nurtured her interests in dance and drama from a young age. After a winning a scholarship to study at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, she moved to London as a young teenager, leaving the family home. By the age of 15, she was a full time pop star. She became the youngest female artist ever to go straight to number one in the UK charts when her debut single was a hit...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Desmond Tutu

    May 02 2021

    Sue Lawley talks to former Archbishop of Capetown Desmond Tutu in a programme first broadcast in 1994. Desmond Tutu celebrates his 90th birthday this year.

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Helen McCrory

    Apr 22 2021

    Lauren Laverne talks to the actress Helen McCrory, in a programme first broadcast in 2020. Helen McCrory died in April 2021, at the age of 52.

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Kathleen Turner

    Apr 18 2021

    Sue Lawley interviews the actor Kathleen Turner in a programme first broadcast in 2000.

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Russell T Davies

    Apr 11 2021

    Russell T Davies is one of the U.K.'s most successful television writers. He spent his teenage years learning his dramatic craft with the West Glamorgan Youth Theatre, and his career in television began in the children's department at the BBC. His first solo hit TV series was the ground-breaking, sexually frank drama Queer as Folk, first broadcast on Channel 4 in 1999. A lifelong Doctor Who fan, he relaunched the series in 2005 for a new generation of viewers. Such was its success, he found him...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Murray Walker

    Apr 04 2021

    Kirsty Young talks to motor racing commentator Murray Walker, in a programme first broadcast in 2014. Murray Walker died in March 2021, at the age of 97.

  • Professor Sir Simon Wessely

    Mar 28 2021

    Professor Sir Simon Wessely is the first ever psychiatrist to be awarded a Regius professorship – an honour bestowed by the Queen. He is professor of psychological medicine at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, and is also a consultant psychiatrist at King’s College Hospital and the Maudsley Hospital. Born in Sheffield to a father who had come to Britain on the Kindertransport, he started his research career working on unexplained symptoms and s...more

  • Maggie O'Farrell, writer

    Mar 21 2021

    Maggie O’Farrell has written eight novels, a memoir and a children’s book. In 2020 her novel Hamnet won the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and was also named Waterstones Book of the Year. Maggie was born in Northern Ireland. Her parents moved around during her childhood, and she grew up in Wales and Scotland. As a young girl, she was very ill and almost died from encephalitis. She says her lifelong love of reading comes from her long stay in hospital followed by an extended convalescence, when she...more

  • Dame Louise Casey, crossbench peer

    Mar 14 2021

    Baroness Casey of Blackstock is a former civil servant specialising in social welfare, who has worked under five prime ministers. She has taken on some of UK society’s most difficult issues, including homelessness, anti-social behaviour and family breakdown, and has become known for her forthright views. She grew up in Portsmouth and her first job was working on reception at a branch of the Department of Health and Social Security in the late 1980s. At 27 she became the deputy director of the...more

  • Mark Strong, actor

    Mar 07 2021

    Mark Strong has appeared in more than 60 films, along with numerous TV dramas and plays. His career took off after he won a leading role in the landmark 1996 BBC series Our Friends in the North, and since then his screen work includes dramas such as Syriana, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Zero Dark Thirty and The Imitation Game, as well as the fantasy and comic book worlds of Stardust, Kick Ass and Shazam. In 2015 he won the Olivier best actor award for his London stage performance in A View from...more

  • Claire Horton, charity worker

    Feb 28 2021

    Claire Horton is the former chief executive of Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and is currently director general of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. She joined Battersea in 2010 during its landmark 150th year, spearheading a campaign which transformed the animal rescue service into a UK top 10 charity brand. During her years in charge, income and volunteer numbers quadrupled; new facilities were developed and the charity successfully campaigned for changes in animal welfare legislation. A...more

  • Sophia Loren

    Feb 21 2021

    Sophia Loren is the first performer to win the Best Actress Academy Award for a role in a foreign language film. She won in 1962 for her performance in Vittorio De Sica’s film Two Women in which she played a mother trying to protect her 12-year-old daughter in war-torn Italy. In 1991, she picked up a second Oscar when the Academy presented her with an Honorary Award for her contribution to world cinema. Born Sofia Villani Scicolone in a hospital ward for unmarried mothers, she was brought up ...more

  • Malala Yousafzai, activist

    Feb 14 2021

    Malala Yousafzai is an activist who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize when she was 17 - becoming the youngest winner in its history. Today she is known globally for her human rights advocacy and her ongoing campaign to ensure all children have equal access to education. She was born in the Swat Valley in northern Pakistan where her father Ziauddin was a prominent activist who believed boys and girls should sit side by side in the classroom and co-founded a school which Malala attended. After th...more

  • George McGavin, entomologist and broadcaster

    Feb 07 2021

    George McGavin is an entomologist, explorer and broadcaster, who has spread the word about the importance of insects to audiences in their millions. Born in Glasgow, he grew up in Edinburgh where he studied zoology at university. Following a PhD in entomology, he went on to teach and research at the University of Oxford. He gave up his post as the assistant curator of the university’s Museum of Natural History after 25 years to follow his dream of becoming a television presenter. He has ...more

  • Monica Galetti, chef and restaurateur

    Jan 31 2021

    Monica Galetti is a chef, restaurateur and cook book writer, who is also known as a judge on the television series MasterChef: the Professionals. Born on the island of Upolu in Western Samoa, she grew up on the family plantation where her earliest food memories are of collecting eggs and mangoes and peeling bananas for special suppers. When she was eight she moved to New Zealand where her mother and stepfather had emigrated a couple of years earlier. After studying hospitality management and ...more

  • Tim Peake, astronaut

    Jan 24 2021

    Major Tim Peake, is an Army Air Corps officer and a European Space Agency astronaut. He was the first British astronaut to carry out a spacewalk. As a child, he became interested in aviation, visiting air shows with his father and learning to fly as a teenager, although space travel was not yet a passion. He joined the school Cadet Corps and found he was in his element. From there he progressed to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, and then into the Army Air Corps in 1992. His military car...more

  • Samantha Power

    Jan 17 2021

    Samantha Power was the USA's youngest ever ambassador to the UN, during President Barack Obama’s second term, and is a writer and academic. She has just been invited to join president-elect Joe Biden's administration. Samantha was born in London but grew up in Ireland. At the age of nine, she moved to the US with her mother and younger brother following the breakdown of her parents’ marriage. Her first ambition was to be a sports broadcaster, but watching live footage of events in Tiananmen...more

  • David Olusoga, historian and broadcaster

    Jan 10 2021

    David Olusoga is a historian, writer and broadcaster who has presented a range of programmes including the BBC’s A House Through Time and Civilisations. He is currently professor of public history at Manchester University. Born in Lagos, the second child to a Nigerian father and a British mother, David was brought up by his mother in Gateshead after his parents’ marriage broke down. As a child he and his siblings experienced sustained racism and he remembers school as a place of violence and cr...more

  • Colonel Lucy Giles

    Dec 27 2020

    Colonel Lucy Giles is an officer of the British Army’s Royal Logistic Corps and is currently President of the Army Officer Selection Board - the first woman to take on this role. After attending her local comprehensive school in Wincanton, Somerset, she studied Biological Sciences at Exeter University where she joined the University Officers’ Training Corps, despite having no military background herself. After what she calls a “retrospective year out”, she joined the last female-only company...more

  • Sir Cliff Richard

    Dec 20 2020

    Sir Cliff Richard makes a second trip to the island he first visited 60 years ago, when he had just turned 20, but had already topped the UK charts three times. Over the course of his career, Sir Cliff has released over 100 albums and sold well over 250 million records. His chart success in the UK has been eclipsed only by his hero Elvis Presley and one-time rivals, the Beatles. Born Harry Webb in Lucknow, India, Sir Cliff returned to the UK with his family in 1948: money was tight and the f...more

  • Minette Batters

    Dec 13 2020

    Minette Batters is the first woman to become President of the National Farmers' Union, representing 47,000 members. She was first elected to the post in 2018 for two years, and was re-elected in March 2020. Minette runs a tenanted family farm in Wiltshire. The mixed farming business includes cattle, sheep and arable, as well as the conversion of a 17th century barn into a wedding and events venue. Her father was a tenant farmer, and Minette adored helping him as a youngster, but the idea...more

  • Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar

    Dec 06 2020

    Professor Sir Jeremy Farrar is Director of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation which funds scientific research. He is a member of Sage, the scientific group currently advising the government on Covid-19. He is the youngest of six children and was born in Singapore. His mother was an artist and his father was a teacher, who worked around the world, and the family lived in New Zealand, Cyprus and Libya. After struggling to win a place a medical school, he trained as a doctor in L...more

  • Helen Oxenbury

    Nov 29 2020

    Helen Oxenbury is an illustrator of children’s books whose work has featured in many very popular titles for younger readers including the award-winning We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen. Helen has won the Kate Greenaway Medal twice and was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Book Trust in 2018. She attended the Ipswich School of Art and later the Central School of Art in London where she met fellow illustrator and her future husband, John Burningham. After the birth of her...more

  • Arsène Wenger, former football manager

    Nov 22 2020

    Arsène Wenger was the manager of Arsenal FC for 22 years, becoming the longest-serving and most successful manager in the club’s history. He was born in Strasbourg in 1949 and grew up as the youngest of three children in the nearby village of Duttlenheim, where his parents ran a bistro. There he listened in to the daily conversations about football, which preoccupied the men of the village. After playing for his local team and studying for a degree in economics, Arsène made a career as a foot...more

  • Sir Keir Starmer, Leader of the Opposition

    Nov 15 2020

    Sir Keir Starmer is the leader of the Labour Party, and the leader of the opposition. Named after Keir Hardie, a founding father of the Labour party, he was elected leader seven months ago in the wake of Labour’s heavy defeat in the 2019 general election. He stood for, and won, the leadership on a platform of party unity but his resolve has been tested recently by factionalism and infighting. Following the publication of the highly critical Equality and Human Rights Commission report, he ha...more

  • David Mitchell, novelist

    Nov 13 2020

    David Mitchell has published eight novels, two of which – number9dream and Cloud Atlas – have been shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He has also translated two books on autism from Japanese, working with his Japanese wife: their son is on the autistic spectrum. While his work also includes writing for the screen and opera libretti, his main occupation has been, as one critic put it, “quietly pottering away at the frontier of fiction” for more than two decades. David is the son of two artists...more

  • Hilary McGrady, Director General of the National Trust

    Nov 01 2020

    Hilary McGrady is Director General of the National Trust. She was born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, in 1966, where her father was a builder while her mother looked after Hilary and her two older siblings. She spent her childhood roaming the fields near her home, 20 miles outside Belfast. She went to art college after school where she met her husband, Frank. Their relationship initially caused difficulty for her family who were staunch Protestants and unionists, while Frank’s came from a Cathol...more

  • Chris Boardman, cyclist

    Oct 25 2020

    Chris Boardman is an Olympic cyclist, businessman and the Cycling and Walking Commissioner for Greater Manchester. Both his parents were keen competitive amateur cyclists and they backed Chris as he gradually became interested in the sport as a teenager. He left school at 16, and trained as a carpenter to fund his cycling, and his love of making things has never left him. He met his wife Sally when they were teenagers and she supported him when he took time off work to train and compete. He...more

  • Professor Averil Mansfield, retired surgeon

    Oct 18 2020

    Averil Mansfield is a retired vascular surgeon and was the first female Professor of Surgery in the UK when she was appointed in 1993. She was born in 1937 in Blackpool, where her father worked as a welder on the attractions at the Pleasure Beach. She was an only child and an avid reader when young. After perusing a library book on early advances in surgery, she decided, at the age of eight, that she wanted to become a surgeon. She studied at the University of Liverpool and spent her early wor...more

  • Baroness Floella Benjamin, DBE

    Oct 15 2020

    Baroness Floella Benjamin DBE is a Trinidadian-British broadcaster, writer and politician. She became a familiar face to millions of viewers through her work on children's television, most notably on Play School, which she first presented in 1976. She was born in Trinidad in 1949, the second of six children. When her parents emigrated to the UK, she and her siblings were initially left behind with foster parents. After 16 months, the family was able to reunite, when the children travelled to E...more

  • Samantha Morton, actor

    Oct 04 2020

    Samantha Morton is an actor and director. She has appeared in films directed by Woody Allen and Steven Spielberg, and is also known for her work on independent productions, often with serious themes such as prostitution and bereavement. She has been nominated for two Academy Awards and won many accolades including a BAFTA and a Golden Globe. Born in Nottingham in 1977, she had a difficult childhood. She was first taken into care as a baby, then spent the next decade between foster parents and ...more

  • Yusuf Cat Stevens, musician

    Sep 27 2020

    Yusuf Cat Stevens is a singer-songwriter who first enjoyed success more than 50 years ago. He was born Steven Demetre Georgiou in July 1948. His Greek Cypriot father and his Swedish mother ran a restaurant in the West End of London, and he helped out there from an early age. He also became interested in music, writing and singing his own songs, partly inspired by the success of The Beatles. Under the name Cat Stevens, he was just 18 when he had his first hit, and soon found himself on tour...more

  • Bernardine Evaristo, writer

    Sep 20 2020

    Bernardine Evaristo won the Booker Prize in 2019 for her novel, Girl, Woman, Other. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London. Bernardine was born in May 1959, the fourth of eight children, to an English mother and a Nigerian father. She grew up in Woolwich in south London, and was educated at Eltham Hill Girls’ Grammar School. She spent her teenage years at the Greenwich Young People’s Theatre and, after deciding that she wanted to be a professional actor at the age of 1...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Jack Charlton

    Sep 13 2020

    The ball rolled past the gap between him and Gordon Banks and into the back of the net. The Germans were one goal up. Jack Charlton, Sue Lawley's castaway, recalls the match which was to bring him to his knees in relief and joy as England went on to win the 1966 World Cup - just one of the crowning moments of a career that could so easily have ended down the pit, except for his talent with the ball. Nicknamed The Boss because of his straight talking, Jack describes his relationship with his bro...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Liz Smith

    Sep 06 2020

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the actress Liz Smith. Her story is a triumph of talent and perseverance over circumstance. Her mother died when she was tiny, her father walked out of her life and for many years she was brought up by her grandmother who was in mourning for her only child and her own husband. For Liz, acting and making people laugh was an escape from the often harsh realities of life, but she had to wait until she was 50 for her first real break - a role in Mike Leigh's film Bleak Mo...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Terry Jones

    Aug 30 2020

    Roy Plomley's castaway is the Monty Python comedian Terry Jones, in a programme first broadcast in 1983. Terry Jones died in January 2020, at the age of 77.

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Wendy Cope

    Aug 23 2020

    Wendy Cope is one of England’s most popular and widely-read contemporary poets. Wendy was born in Erith, Kent. Her father was 29 years older than her mother and she was sent to boarding school at the age of seven. Although English was her favourite subject at school, in a bid to defy her English teacher’s expectations, she read history at Oxford. Following graduation she became a primary school teacher. After the death of her father in 1971, Wendy entered psychoanalysis in 1973 and turned to w...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Bryan Stevenson

    Aug 16 2020

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Bryan Stevenson. An American lawyer, he is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a private, not-for-profit organisation working on death penalty cases, cases of children sentenced as adults, prison and sentencing reform, and issues of race and poverty. His great grandparents were slaves and he himself went to a segregated school in southern Delaware. Although from a poor African American background he made it to Harvard Law School. Since...more

  • Your Desert Island Discs

    Aug 11 2020

    Listeners choose the music that has been special to them during the weeks of lockdown. With Jane Moss, Hugh Mullally, Ailish Douglas, Professor Jason Warren, Niti Acharya, Margery Hookings, Simon Spiller, Clare Raybould and Garry Greenland. DISC ONE: Amazing Grace by Judy Collins DISC TWO: Who Knows Where The Time Goes? by Sandy Denny DISC THREE: The Whole of The Moon by The Waterboys DISC FOUR: Heimweh op. 57 Nr. 6: Homesickness, composed by Edvard Grieg, performed by Emil Gilels DISC FI...more

  • Maria Balshaw, Director of Tate

    Aug 10 2020

    Maria Balshaw is the Director of Tate, overseeing four major art galleries: Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, Tate Modern and Tate St Ives. Maria was born in 1970 in Birmingham, and grew up in Northampton, where her father, Walter, was a parks officer, and her mother, Colette, was a teacher. She read English and Cultural Studies at the University of Liverpool and fell in love with the newly opened Tate Liverpool at Albert Dock. After working as an academic for almost a decade, she changed career...more

  • Steve Backshall, Explorer

    Aug 02 2020

    Steve Backshall is an explorer, naturalist and broadcaster. His BAFTA-winning programmes bring viewers of every generation closer to nature – from the children's series Deadly 60, featuring close encounters with the most dangerous and venomous creatures on earth, to Blue Planet Live and Springwatch. His interest in the natural world began at a young age, after his parents decided to swap their terraced house for a smallholding with goats, ducks and geese. His big break as a broadcaster ar...more

  • Sharon Horgan, writer, actor, producer

    Jul 26 2020

    Sharon Horgan is a writer, actor and producer best known for co-writing and co-starring in the Channel 4 series Catastrophe with US comedian Rob Delaney. Sharon was born in 1970 in east London, where her parents Ursula and John were running a pub. They moved to Ireland when Sharon was three and eventually set themselves up as turkey farmers. Sharon went to a convent school, then art college in Dublin, before moving to London in 1990, hoping to become an actor. Following six years working at a...more

  • Annie Nightingale, DJ

    Jul 19 2020

    Annie Nightingale was BBC Radio 1’s first female presenter and is its longest-serving DJ, celebrating her 50th anniversary at the station this year. Born and brought up in south west London, she fell in love with the romance and mystery of radio through her father’s meticulous tuning of their home set to broadcasts from exotic places like Prague and Hilversum. On leaving school at 17, she spent a year on a journalism course in central London. After relocating to Brighton, she worked her way up...more

  • Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO

    Jul 12 2020

    Jens Stoltenberg is the Secretary General of NATO and a former Prime Minister of Norway. Although he was born into a political family in Norway, he grew up thinking he would become a statistician, before turning to a career in politics. He served as the Prime Minister of Norway twice. During his second term, Norway experienced one of the darkest days in its recent history, when 77 people were murdered in a bomb attack in Oslo and a mass shooting on a nearby island. Before becoming the Secr...more

  • Helen Fielding, author

    Jul 05 2020

    Helen Fielding, writer and journalist, is best known for creating Bridget Jones, who first appeared in a newspaper column in the Independent in 1995, in the form of a diary detailing the single 30-something’s exploits in London as she tried to make sense of life and love. The column soon acquired a wider following, and Helen turned Bridget’s story into a best-selling book the following year. Born in 1958, Helen grew up in Yorkshire with an older sister and two younger brothers. Her father was a...more

  • Helen McCrory, actress

    Jun 28 2020

    Helen McCrory shares the eight tracks, book and luxury she would want to take with her if cast away to a desert island. Helen McCrory OBE is one of the most versatile and critically acclaimed actresses working today. On screen she has played Anna Karenina, Cherie Blair (twice), Harry Potter's Narcissa Malfoy and the Peaky Blinders matriarch Aunt Polly. Her theatre roles range from Yelena in Uncle Vanya to Euripides' Medea. A diplomat's daughter, she spent her early childhood in Africa befor...more

  • Mark Johnston, racehorse trainer

    Jun 21 2020

    Racehorse trainer Mark Johnston is a lynchpin of British flat racing. In August 2018 - when 20-1 shot Poet's Society, ridden by Frankie Dettori, streaked to victory at York - Mark became the most prolific winning trainer in British racing history, saddling 4,194 winners. Based in a 300-acre training yard in Yorkshire, he has never trained fewer than 100 winners each season for the last 26 years including champions such as Attraction, Mister Baileys, Double Trigger and Shamardal. Mark grew up...more

  • Joe Wicks, fitness trainer and author

    Jun 14 2020

    Joe Wicks, professionally known as The Body Coach, is a fitness and nutrition coach. Since the lockdown, he has been running daily free virtual PE lessons for children and adults stuck at home. In March he became a Guinness World Record holder after his second PE with Joe class was watched by 955,158 people around the world, a record number of viewers for a live streamed YouTube workout. Getting children to be more active has been a long-held ambition and in 2019 he went on a tour of fifteen sc...more

  • Martin Lewis, financial campaigner

    Jun 07 2020

    Martin Lewis is a financial journalist, campaigner and broadcaster. His high-profile campaigns on bank charges, student finance, and mental health and debt have made headlines, and millions of people subscribe to his weekly money tips email. He founded the Money Saving Expert website in 2003 with just £100 and sold it less than a decade later for £87 million, although he calls himself an 'accidental entrepreneur'. He has since supported numerous groups and causes through charitable donations...more

  • Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, former nurse

    May 31 2020

    Elizabeth Anionwu is a retired nurse, campaigner and Emeritus Professor of Nursing at the University of West London. A fellow of the Royal College of Nursing, she spent 40 years in the profession and has been named one of the most influential nurses in the history of the NHS. Her career was distinguished by her pioneering work in the understanding of sickle cell disease - bringing better treatment and support to the thousands living with it. She was the first sickle cell and thalassaemia nurse c...more

  • Charles Hazlewood, conductor

    May 24 2020

    Charles Hazlewood is a conductor and the founder of Paraorchestra, the world's first professional ensemble of disabled musicians. Once described as the Heston Blumenthal of orchestral music, Charles has spent his career challenging Britain’s musical palate, exploding boundaries and expanding our ideas about what an orchestra can be - and do. His repertoire encompasses Beethoven, Bruckner and Barry White, and his critically-acclaimed projects include more than 100 world premieres and the firs...more

  • Sinead Burke, disability rights activist and teacher

    May 17 2020

    Sinead Burke is a disability rights activist and teacher. She has combined her love of education and style to campaign for more representation of diversity in the fashion industry. Born in Dublin, Sinead has achondroplasia – a genetic condition which causes restricted growth – and is 3’ 5” tall. She refers to herself as a “little person” and knew she wanted to be a teacher after her first day at school. She has used the classroom environment to discuss openly with her pupils the issues surro...more

  • Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate

    May 10 2020

    Simon Armitage was appointed Poet Laureate in 2019. His poems celebrate the everyday and the ordinary with wit and affection. But beyond the wood chip and washing lines he addresses the complexities and the profound feelings that underpin daily life. Born in Huddersfield, Simon Armitage grew up in the village of Marsden in West Yorkshire. Marsden has informed and inspired much of his work and as a boy he would look out of his bedroom window at night to watch the comings and goings of village...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Lubaina Himid

    May 03 2020

    Lauren Laverne's castaway is the artist Lubaina Himid. The programme was first broadcast in June 2019.

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - John Cooper Clarke

    Apr 26 2020

    Lauren Laverne's castaway is the poet John Cooper Clarke. The programme was first broadcast in July 2019.

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Albert & Michel Roux

    Apr 19 2020

    Michael Parkinson's castaways are the restaurateurs and chefs Albert and Michel Roux (broadcast in 1986). Michel died in March 2020 at the age of 78.

  • Classic Desert Island Discs - Jilly Cooper

    Apr 12 2020

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the writer Jilly Cooper, best known for her best-selling series of romantic novels The Rutshire Chronicles.

  • Brian Cox, actor

    Mar 29 2020

    Brian Cox CBE is a Scottish actor whose career spans almost 60 years, from his early days sweeping the stage at his local theatre in Dundee to his current Golden Globe-winning role as the media patriarch Logan Roy in the HBO series Succession. He has appeared in more than 100 films, many television series, and has won two Olivier awards for his work on stage. Brian Cox was born in 1946, the youngest of five children, and grew up in a working-class household in Dundee. His father died of cancer...more

  • Dame Helena Morrissey, financier and campaigner

    Mar 22 2020

    Dame Helena Morrissey is a former City fund manager and chief executive of a major investment company, who has also campaigned to boost the number of women in the boardroom. Newspapers regularly describe her as 'Superwoman', because alongside her many professional achievements, she's the mother of nine children. Helena Morrissey is the daughter of two teachers, and her drive was evident from an early age. She was - by her own admission - a 'manic Brownie', striving to gain the maximum number o...more

  • Daniel Radcliffe, actor

    Mar 15 2020

    Daniel Radcliffe reached a global audience in the title role of the hugely successful Harry Potter films. He has also appeared on Broadway and in the West End, as well as in over a dozen films since the final part of the Harry Potter series was released in 2011. Born in 1989, the only child of Alan and Marcia Radcliffe, Daniel made his acting debut aged 10 in a BBC adaptation of David Copperfield. The following year he was cast as Harry Potter, and he and his co-stars, Emma Watson and Rupert G...more

  • Chris Riddell, illustrator, author and political cartoonist

    Mar 08 2020

    Chris Riddell is an illustrator, author of children’s books and a political cartoonist. From 2015 to 2017, he was the Children’s Laureate, and he has won three Greenaway Medals for his work – more than any other illustrator. He was born in 1962 in Cape Town, South Africa, where his parents were both anti-apartheid activists. They moved to the UK when Chris was a year old. He grew up first in rural England, and later in south London where his father, a vicar, became chaplain of Brixton Prison. ...more

  • Dorothy Byrne, journalist

    Mar 01 2020

    Dorothy Byrne is the head of News and Current Affairs at Channel 4, and has worked in journalism for more than four decades. In 2018 she received the Outstanding Contribution Award at Royal Television Society Journalism Awards, and her recent commissions include the Channel 4 News investigation into Cambridge Analytica, the Michael Jackson expose Leaving Neverland and the BAFTA-winning documentary For Sama, about one family’s life under siege in Aleppo, which also won an Oscar nomination. Sh...more

  • Melanie C

    Feb 23 2020

    Melanie Chisholm - known as Melanie C - is a singer and songwriter who found global fame as one fifth of the Spice Girls, the most commercially successful female group ever. Melanie was one of 400 other hopefuls who answered an advertisement to form a new girl band in 1994 - little knowing how her life would be turned upside down by fame and worldwide success. She was given the nickname Sporty Spice and presented what she calls a "gobby' persona to the outside world, but inside she was a shy ...more

  • Ian Wright, former footballer and broadcaster

    Feb 16 2020

    Ian Wright is a former professional footballer and now a football pundit on TV and radio. He began his career at Crystal Palace before moving to Arsenal where he became their highest goal scorer of all time, a record only surpassed eight years later by Thierry Henry. Born to a Jamaican couple in south-east London, Ian grew up with his mother and step-father. His biological father had left the family when Ian was under two years old. Things at home were difficult and Ian spent as much time as p...more

  • Zoe Ball, broadcaster

    Feb 09 2020

    Zoe Ball is a radio and television presenter. She became the first woman to present the BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show in 1997, and then the first woman to present the Radio 2 Breakfast Show in 2019. Zoe grew up in Buckinghamshire with her father – TV presenter Johnny Ball – and her stepmother. After working behind the scenes in TV as a runner and researcher, she first moved into the spotlight hosting children's programmes, including the very successful BBC Saturday morning show Live & Kicking, wi...more

  • Sonita Alleyne, Master of Jesus College, Cambridge

    Feb 02 2020

    Sonita Alleyne is the Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, the first woman to hold the post and - more significantly - the first black master of any Oxbridge college. In her previous career in the media, she was the co-founder and former CEO of the production company Somethin’ Else. Born in Barbados, she came to England aged three and grew up in East London, the youngest of three children. She was an able reader by the time she started primary school, and her potential was spotted at her second...more

  • Anne Enright, writer

    Jan 26 2020

    Anne Enright won the Booker Prize for her fourth novel, The Gathering, in 2007, and was appointed the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction in 2015. She has written seven novels, two collections of short stories and a book of essays about motherhood and her work has been widely translated. Born in Dublin in 1962, Anne is the youngest of five children. She was a voracious reader from an early age, finishing every children's book at her local library. When she was 16, she won a scholarship to s...more

  • Dame Sue Campbell, Director Women's Football at the FA

    Jan 19 2020

    Dame Sue Campbell is the Director of Women’s Football at the Football Association. The women’s game has become increasingly popular recently and last year the England team - the Lionesses - made it to the World Cup semi-finals. Born in 1948, just outside Nottingham, Sue was sporty from an early age, even changing schools to allow her to play football. She became a PE teacher in Manchester and realised how transformative sport could be, increasing self-esteem, motivation and self-belief. In t...more

  • Michael Lewis, writer

    Jan 12 2020

    Michael Lewis is a best-selling non-fiction writer and journalist. He initially worked for an investment bank, and his experiences of Wall Street excess in the 1980s informed his acclaimed first book, Liar’s Poker. Three of his later books – Moneyball, The Blind Side and The Big Short – have been adapted into Hollywood feature films. He was born in New Orleans in 1960, where his father was fond of quoting the family motto: 'Do as little as possible, and that unwillingly, for it is better to re...more

  • Rupert Everett, actor

    Jan 09 2020

    Rupert Everett is an actor, writer and director whose breakthrough came in 1981 when he was cast as a gay schoolboy in Another Country, Julian Mitchell's play and subsequent film. Rupert later starred in Dance with a Stranger before making a splash in Hollywood playing Julia Roberts's gay confidante in My Best Friend's Wedding. But his movie career took a dive after The Next Best Thing - in which he played the gay father of Madonna's baby - flopped. After a period out of the limelight he ...more

  • Stephen Merchant, writer, comedian and actor

    Dec 22 2019

    Stephen Merchant first came to fame with the TV sitcom The Office, which he co-wrote and co-directed with Ricky Gervais. He continued to work with Gervais on the series Extras, Life is Short and An Idiot Abroad. His comedy hero as a young man was John Cleese and as a fellow tall West Country boy, he felt he would try his hand at a comedy career. As a teenager, he worked at Radio Bristol, was a wedding DJ and enjoyed drama at school. While at Warwick University, he created his own radio progr...more

  • Heidi Thomas, screenwriter

    Dec 15 2019

    Heidi Thomas is a screenwriter and playwright best known for Call the Midwife. The BBC TV series, which began in 2012, was originally a six part adaptation of a trilogy of memoirs by Jennifer Worth, recalling her experiences as a midwife in the East End of London. It was an immediate hit, with 10 million viewers a week, becoming one of BBC One’s most popular dramas and a fixture in the Christmas schedules. Born in 1962, Heidi Thomas grew up as the eldest of three children in the leafy suburb...more

  • Professor Russell Foster, professor of circadian neuroscience

    Dec 08 2019

    Professor Russell Foster is head of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at the University of Oxford, professor of circadian neuroscience and the director of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology. An expert in sleep, he describes it as 'the single most important health behaviour we have'. Born in 1959, as a child he loved his toy microscope and digging up fossils. Despite being labelled “entirely non-academic” by his headmaster and attending remedial classes for some years, he ach...more

  • Asif Kapadia, film director

    Dec 01 2019

    Asif Kapadia is an Academy Award-winning film director, renowned for his documentaries about the musician Amy Winehouse, the Brazilian motor racing star Ayrton Senna, and the Argentinian footballer, Diego Maradona. Born in 1972, Asif is the youngest of five children. His parents emigrated from Gujarat in the mid-1960s. His father’s ambition to seek his fortune took the family to the US for a short time in the late 70s, but by 1980 they had returned to London. Asif grew up in Hackney, and descri...more

  • Isabella Tree, writer and conservationist

    Nov 24 2019

    Isabella Tree is a conservationist and writer of the award-winning book Wilding: the Return of Nature to a British Farm, which tells the story of rewilding a 3,500 acre farm estate in Sussex, which she oversaw with her husband Charlie. The adopted daughter of Michael Tree and Lady Anne Cavendish, Isabella grew up in Mereworth Castle in Kent, and then in Shute House, a vicarage in Dorset. Following her expulsion from two secondary schools, she attended Millfield School as a sixth former, where...more

  • Stephen Graham, actor

    Nov 17 2019

    Stephen Graham is an actor, whose credits include key roles in films including This is England and The Irishman, and in TV dramas such as Boardwalk Empire and Line of Duty. Stephen was born in Kirkby just outside Liverpool in 1973. He discovered acting at school, where a starring role in a production of Treasure Island at the age of 10 was a turning point: local actor Andrew Schofield was in the audience and suggested that Stephen should join the Everyman Youth Theatre in Liverpool. After l...more

  • Lauren Laverne picks some of her favourite episodes

    Nov 13 2019

    Hear stories & track choices from castaways including Len Goodman, Maya Angelou and Stephen Hawking.

  • Kimberley Motley, lawyer

    Nov 10 2019

    Kimberley Motley is an American attorney and the first foreign lawyer to practise in Afghanistan. Born in 1975 to an African-American father and a North Korean mother, she grew up in a poor neighbourhood in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where hers was the only mixed-race family - and the only family with two parents. Education was very important to her parents, who sent their four children to private schools and also paid for extra tutoring. After completing degrees in Criminal Justice and Law, Kimber...more

  • Russell T Davies, screenwriter

    Nov 03 2019

    Russell T Davies is one of the U.K.’s most successful television writers. He spent his teenage years learning his dramatic craft with the West Glamorgan Youth Theatre, and his career in television began in the children’s department at the BBC. His first solo hit TV series was the ground-breaking, sexually frank drama Queer as Folk, first broadcast on Channel 4 in 1999. A lifelong Doctor Who fan, he relaunched the series in 2005 for a new generation of viewers. Such was its success, he found ...more

  • Wendell Pierce, actor

    Oct 27 2019

    Wendell Pierce is an American actor best known for his role as Bunk Moreland in the television series The Wire. Since the series ended in 2008, he has made around 40 film and television appearances, including Treme, Selma and the legal drama Suits, in which he played Robert Zane, the father of Rachel Zane, played by Meghan Markle. His theatre credits range from The Cherry Orchard to Death of a Salesman. Born in 1963, the youngest of three sons, Wendell grew up in the Pontchartrain Park area ...more

  • Dame Glenys Stacey, former Chief Inspector of Probation

    Oct 20 2019

    Dame Glenys Stacey has spent 40 years in public service, including high profile work as a regulator in key areas of national life. She has just stepped down after her five year term as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Probation during which she criticised the decision to privatise the Probation service calling it “irredeemably flawed”. Glenys was born in Walsall Wood in the West Midlands, where her father was a painter and decorator for the council and her mother worked full time in Union Loc...more

  • Baroness Arminka Helić

    Oct 14 2019

    Baroness Arminka Helić is credited with persuading William Hague, the former foreign secretary, and the actor and director Angelina Jolie to launch the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) to campaign against rape as a weapon of war. Born in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Arminka fled her home country as violence escalated in the former Yugoslavia and her family appeared on a Serbian death list. Following the intervention of Lady Miloska Nott, wife of the former secretary of state for ...more

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda, composer & lyricist

    Oct 06 2019

    Lin-Manuel Miranda is best known as the composer, lyricist and original star of the multi-award-winning Broadway musical, Hamilton. It won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, 11 Tony Awards and Grammy for Best Musical Theatre Album. The London production won seven Olivier Awards in 2018. Lin-Manuel was brought up in New York by his Puerto Rican parents, and his creativity and sensitivity to music began when he was a child: he performed in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance as a teenager...more

  • Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, firefighter

    Sep 29 2019

    Dr Sabrina Cohen-Hatton is the Chief Fire Officer for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service. She is one of the most senior women in the Fire and Rescue Service in the UK. After spending some time living on the streets as a teenager, her work as a firefighter began at the age of 18, after she had applied to 31 different fire services. During her career, her interest in psychology and fascination with how people make choices in stressful situations led to her studying for a degree, followed by a ...more

  • Thom Yorke, musician

    Sep 22 2019

    Thom Yorke has been the front man of Radiohead, one of Britain’s most successful British bands, for 34 years. They have sold over 30 million albums worldwide, and have won three Grammys and four Ivor Novello awards. Their debut studio album, Pablo Honey, was released in 1993, with their debut single, Creep, becoming a big international success. Thom decided on his career at the age of seven, when he lay on the floor between large speakers at a friend’s house and listened to Queen’s Bohemian Rh...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Lemn Sissay

    Sep 15 2019

    Another chance to hear Lemn Sissay's Desert Island Discs from October 2015. Interviewed by Kirsty Young. As a poet, writer and playwright, much of his work tells the story of his search for his birth parents. Born to a young Ethiopian woman who wanted him temporarily fostered while she completed her studies, he was with a family until he was 12. He would spend the next five years in a number of children's homes where he began to write. On leaving care at 17, he self-published his first book of ...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Judith Kerr

    Sep 08 2019

    Another chance to hear Judith Kerr, interviewed by Sue Lawley. From February 2004. A writer and illustrator known to generations of children both for her charming Mog picture-books and for her careful rendering of the life of a Jewish child fleeing Nazi Germany. Judith Kerr escaped with her family on the day the Nazis were elected. The following day, police turned up at the doorstep in a belated attempt to confiscate their passports. The Kerr family moved across Europe, trying to support themse...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Daniel Kahneman

    Sep 01 2019

    Another chance to hear Daniel Kaheneman, interviewed by Kirsty Young in August 2013. Widely acknowledged as one of the world's most influential living psychologists, his many years of study have centred on how and why we make the decisions we do. As a child, he lived in Nazi occupied France and he says that, from a young age, he already had a pretty good idea that he wanted to be an academic. He says "My mother had a big influence ... in fact I credit her with the fact that I became a psychol...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Professor Monica Grady

    Aug 25 2019

    Another chance to hear Monica Grady, Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences at the Open University, interviewed by Kirsty Young in July 2015. Well-known in scientific circles, at NASA and the European Space Agency, she came to the attention of the general public with her enthusiastic celebration when, as part of the Rosetta project, the probe Philae became the first-ever spacecraft to land on a comet - 67P - in November 2014. The spacecraft had taken ten years to journey through space and a ...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Freddie Flintoff

    Aug 18 2019

    One of the best players of his generation, he was part of the England team that won the Ashes in 2005, a year that marked his sporting coming of age. On the strength of that historic victory he was awarded an MBE for services to the game, and the public voted him BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Barely out of his pram when he picked up a cricket ball he turned out to bat for an under-14 match when he was just six years old. His debut was not in crisp cricket whites, but in a second hand Manc...more

  • Jo Fairley, businesswoman

    Aug 11 2019

    Jo Fairley is a businesswoman and writer. She co-founded the Green & Black’s chocolate company with Craig Sams, her husband, and has launched several other successful ventures since then. Jo did not enjoy school, left at 16 with six O-levels and learned shorthand and typing at a secretarial college. She got a job with a magazine publisher and worked her way up through the features department to become the UK’s youngest magazine editor at the age of 23. Her move into chocolate came when she hap...more

  • Sir Tim Waterstone, businessman

    Aug 04 2019

    Sir Tim Waterstone is the founder of the bookshop chain that bears his name. Born in May 1939, he was the youngest of three children. His father, who worked for a tea company all his life, served in the Royal Army Service Corps during the war, and so was absent when Tim was very young. Their relationship was difficult throughout his childhood. Tim was educated at boarding schools from the age of six, when his parents went to India for two and a half years. After studying English at Cambridge and...more

  • Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer, England

    Jul 28 2019

    Dame Sally Davies is the outgoing Chief Medical Officer for England. She will take up her next post as Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, later this year. She was born in Birmingham in 1949 to academic parents - her father was an Anglican priest and theologian, her mother a scientist. She studied medicine at Manchester University and after two 'brutalising' years spent learning the job on the wards, she welcomed the opportunity to move to Madrid as a diplomat’s wife. However, she decided th...more

  • John Cooper Clarke, poet

    Jul 21 2019

    John Cooper Clarke first achieved fame with his poetry during the punk rock era of the late 1970s. Born in Salford in 1949 to Hilda and George, he suffered from tuberculosis as a child and was sent to recuperate with a relative in Wales. He failed his 11 plus exam and was educated at a secondary modern school which he hated. However the one “rose in a garden of weeds” was his English teacher, Mr Malone, who instilled a love of poetry in John and his classmates. John had various odd jobs after ...more

  • Marcus Wareing, chef

    Jul 14 2019

    Marcus Wareing is a prize-winning chef, restaurateur, TV presenter and cookery book writer, who gained his first Michelin star at the age of just 26. He grew up in Southport, and by the age of 11 was helping out in his family’s fruit and vegetable business, which dominated his father’s life. Marcus assumed he would join the business, but his father told him to take a catering course instead, as the family firm had no future. When Marcus was 18, he moved to London to work at the Savoy. He lov...more

  • Sue Biggs, DG Royal Horticultural Society

    Jul 07 2019

    Sue Biggs is the Director General of the Royal Horticultural Society. She’s been at the helm of the RHS since 2010 and during that time, its membership has grown to more than half a million people. The RHS is also renowned for its spectacular flower shows and garden festivals around the country, including Chelsea, Hampton Court, Chatsworth House and Tatton Park. Sue has had a lifelong love of gardening since her mum gave her a packet of seeds on her seventh birthday. She has enjoyed two ...more

  • Jared Diamond, academic and author

    Jun 30 2019

    Jared Diamond is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, although his interests and expertise range far wider, from physiology to ornithology, history to ecology and from anthropology to evolutionary biology. His 1997 book, Guns, Germs and Steel, asked why Eurasian civilizations prospered and conquered others. It won a Pulitzer Prize and has sold more than a million copies around the world. He was born in Boston in 1937 to a physician father and a mother who was a ...more

  • Emily Eavis, festival organiser

    Jun 23 2019

    Emily Eavis is co-organiser of the Glastonbury Festival. Together with her husband and her father, she masterminds the booking of bands and oversees the setting up of what is the largest greenfield festival in the world. The site itself becomes the size of Oxford town centre once it’s built and rigged, and when tickets for 2019 went on sale, they sold out within 36 minutes. Born in 1979, she was a small child when her parents, Jean and Michael, were inspired to make the Glastonbury Festival a...more

  • Nitin Sawhney, musician, producer, composer

    Jun 16 2019

    Nitin Sawhney is a composer, musician and producer working in the worlds of music, film, video games, dance and theatre. He has released 10 studio albums, scored over 50 films and television programmes, and is known for his collaborations, with musicians and artists including Paul McCartney, Akram Khan, John Hurt and Andy Serkis. He was born in 1964 to parents who had emigrated from North India the previous year to work in the UK. His father was a chemical engineer while his mother taught Engl...more

  • Professor Monica McWilliams, social scientist

    Jun 09 2019

    Professor Monica McWilliams is an academic, peace campaigner and former politician. In 1996, she was the co-founder of the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition political party and was elected to a seat at the Multi-Party Peace Negotiations, which led to the Belfast (Good Friday) Peace Agreement in 1998. She served as a member of the Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly from 1998-2003 and was the Chief Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission from 2005-2011. She continu...more

  • Lubaina Himid, artist

    Jun 02 2019

    Lubaina Himid is a Turner Prize-winning artist, curator and Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire. Lubaina was born in Zanzibar in 1954. Her mother was from Britain and her father was originally from the Comoros Islands. He died from malaria when Lubaina was just a few months old, and so she and her mother returned to England. She studied Theatre Design at the Wimbledon College of Art and began organising exhibitions of works by fellow black women artists in th...more

  • Derren Brown, illusionist

    May 26 2019

    Derren Brown, illusionist and mentalist, chooses the eight tracks, book and luxury he want to take with him if cast away to a desert island. BOOK CHOICE: Collected works of Carl Jung LUXURY: Leica Camera CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Goldberg Variations Presenter: Lauren Laverne Producer: Sarah Taylor

  • Pat McGrath, makeup artist

    May 19 2019

    Pat McGrath is a renowned make-up artist. She works with the world’s top designers, photographers, editors and models, creating images for the pages of the world’s most glamorous magazines. She and her team also work at the most high-profile catwalk shows in Milan, London, New York and Paris. She born and brought up in Northampton by her mother, who had a passion for fashion and make-up, which she passed onto Pat. In the mid-1980s, as an art student, Pat was captivated by the London club scene...more

  • Louis Theroux

    May 12 2019

    Louis Theroux is a television documentary maker. He has received two BAFTAs and a Royal Television Society Award for his work which includes the series Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends and When Louis Met… Born in 1970, and brought up in south London, he is the son of the American writer Paul Theroux and the BBC World Service radio producer Anne Castle. He was privately educated at Westminster School and read History at Oxford, graduating with a first. He moved to the USA where he was introduced t...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Tracey Emin

    May 05 2019

    Another chance to hear artist Tracey Emin's Desert Island Discs, with Sue Lawley, first broadcast in November 2004. Tracey Emin is one of the most successful and controversial artists to emerge during the 1990s. Her work was championed early on by influential art dealer Jay Jopling and later by the collector Charles Saatchi. Her work is highly autobiographical and confessional. A talented drawer and painter, she has attracted most attention for her art installations - including her tent, Everyo...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

    Apr 28 2019

    Another chance to hear Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell choose her Desert Island Discs, with Sue Lawley. First broadcast 24th December, 2000. Jocelyn Bell Burnell was only twenty-four when she made the discovery of a lifetime: As she was mapping the universe for her PhD, she chanced upon the radio signal for a totally new kind of star, known as a 'pulsar'. Her find is seen as one of the most important contributions to astrophysics in the twentieth century.

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Mary Berry

    Apr 21 2019

    Another chance to hear Mary Berry's Desert Island Discs with Kirsty Young from 2012. Mary Berry is one of the UK's best-known and respected cookery writers. More than six million copies of her books have now been sold - not bad for a girl who failed her school certificate in English. On television, it is her role as a judge on The Great British Bake-off that has brought her to the attention of a new generation. It was in domestic science lessons that she discovered her love of cooking and she ...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Ade Adepitan

    Apr 14 2019

    Another chance to hear Paralympian and broadcaster Ade Adepitan interviewed by Kirsty Young in 2012. When he's not stuck in a studio explaining the intricacies of Goalball he's reporting from the rainforests of Nicaragua or the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Adversity seems to suit him - he even survived turning up for his first day at school aged 7 in a pink checked suit and bow tie. Inspired by his boyhood heroes Seb Coe and Daley Thompson, who he first saw on TV competing in the 1984 Los Angel...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Ricky Gervais

    Apr 07 2019

    Another chance to listen to the comedian, Ricky Gervais speaking to Kirsty Young in 2007. In just twelve episodes, his show The Office changed the face of British television comedy. At its centre was the comic monster, David Brent, a middle-manager being filmed for a mock-documentary who saw the ever-present cameras as his route to popularity and fame. Ricky Gervais's performance was both excruciating and unmissable - one critic called the programme "among the most affecting and invigorating wor...more

  • Martin Freeman, actor

    Mar 31 2019

    Martin Freeman is a multi-award winning actor, best known for his roles as the lovable Tim in BBC Two’s The Office and as Dr Watson to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes. He also played Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, Lester Nygaard in the US drama series Fargo and Everett K Ross in the film Black Panther. Born in Hampshire in 1971, he grew up in Teddington in south-west London. The youngest of five children, he was just 10 when his father died of a heart attack. As a tee...more

  • Jacqueline de Rojas, President of techUK

    Mar 24 2019

    Lauren Laverne’s castaway this week is Jacqueline de Rojas, the President of techUK, the body that represents 900 companies in the technology sector. She is Chair of the Board of Digital Leaders, co-Chair of the Institute of Coding and sits on the government’s Digital Economy Council. She was born Jacqueline Yu in Kent to a Chinese father and British mother, and moved to Swindon when her mother left the marriage. Jacqueline did well at school, particularly in languages, and went on to take a d...more

  • Marlon James, writer

    Mar 17 2019

    Marlon James is a writer who won the Man Booker Prize in 2015 for A Brief History of Seven Killings, a novel which centres on an attempt to assassinate Bob Marley. Marlon was the first Jamaican to win the Prize. He was born in Kingston in 1970 and grew up in suburbia. His mother worked as a detective, and his father was lawyer, leading to a family joke that his mum locked criminals up and his dad got them out. As a self-confessed geek, Marlon did not enjoy his time at school, and even pretende...more

  • Dame Esther Rantzen, broadcaster and campaigner

    Mar 10 2019

    Dame Esther Rantzen is best known as the presenter of the long-running TV series That’s Life, which began on BBC One in 1973. She was both presenter and producer of the programme, which was hugely successful, regularly reaching 20 million viewers. It featured consumer affairs, vox pops and light-hearted pieces about talking dogs and peculiarly shaped vegetables, along with serious investigations, including reports on the safety of children’s playgrounds and on child abuse. A special edition o...more

  • Trevor Sorbie, hairdresser

    Mar 03 2019

    Trevor Sorbie is known as an innovative hairdresser and is the founder of the charity, MyNewHair. Born into a family of hairdressers – both his father and grandfather were barbers – he spent the first decade of his life in Scotland before the family relocated to Essex. His first ambition was to become an artist, but when he left school aged 15 with no qualifications after being bullied, his father suggested that he could help out at his barbershop. Within three months, Trevor was cutting hair ...more

  • Margaret MacMillan, historian

    Feb 24 2019

    Professor Margaret MacMillan is a Canadian historian, author and broadcaster. In 2018 she delivered the Reith Lectures on BBC Radio 4, in which she examined the tangled history of war and society. She was born in Toronto in 1943, and her interest in history was kindled by the stories her parents told about when they were young and by the historical adventure novels she read as a child. After a long academic career in Canada, she found herself in the international spotlight in her late 50s....more

  • Ann Cleeves, writer

    Feb 17 2019

    Ann Cleeves is a crime writer best known for two series of novels, both of which have been adapted for television. Vera, for ITV, features her detective Vera Stanhope, and Shetland, for the BBC, focuses on DI Jimmy Perez, who works for the Shetland police. Born in 1954, Ann grew up in Herefordshire and Devon. After secondary school she spent a year providing childcare for a family in London before reading English at the University of Sussex. She dropped out of her degree course, and by chance,...more

  • Cressida Dick, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police

    Feb 10 2019

    Cressida Dick is Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. She was born in 1960, the youngest child of two university professors. Her parents divorced when she was still at primary school and she and her older siblings grew up in Oxford. Their father died when Cressida was just 11. She read Agriculture and Forest Sciences at Oxford University before spending a year in accountancy. She joined the Metropolitan Police in 1983 where her first beat was on the streets of Soho. After a decade in Lon...more

  • Bob Mortimer, comedian

    Feb 03 2019

    Bob Mortimer is a comedian best known for his work with his comedy partner Vic Reeves. For 30 years, he and Vic have appeared in numerous TV series together, including Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out, Shooting Stars and The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer. Bob first saw Vic performing in a south London pub: Vic was wearing a Bryan Ferry mask while trying to tap dance with wooden planks strapped to his feet. Bob found this hugely entertaining, and began to take part in Vic’s shows. Bob was born in 1959 i...more

  • Wendy Cope, poet

    Jan 27 2019

    Wendy Cope is one of England’s most popular and widely-read contemporary poets. Wendy was born in Erith, Kent. Her father was 29 years older than her mother and she was sent to boarding school at the age of seven. Although English was her favourite subject at school, in a bid to defy her English teacher’s expectations, she read history at Oxford. Following graduation she became a primary school teacher. After the death of her father in 1971, Wendy entered psychoanalysis in 1973 and turned to ...more

  • James Rebanks, Shepherd and Writer

    Jan 20 2019

    James Rebanks is a shepherd and the best-selling author of The Shepherd’s Life. Born in Cumbria in 1974, he grew up venerating his grandfather, who taught him what he needed to know in order to take over the family farm from his father one day. He found school an irksome distraction, and left aged 15 with two GCSEs. It wasn’t until his early 20s, after he’d developed an interest in reading and had met his future wife Helen, that he decided to return to study at a local college in the evenings....more

  • Ruth Jones, actor and writer

    Jan 13 2019

    Ruth Jones is an actor and writer. She co-created and starred in the award-winning TV comedy series Gavin and Stacey, and also wrote and took the title role in the comedy drama Stella, which ran for six series. She grew up in Porthcawl, in South Wales, where the local secondary school nurtured her love of performance. She took to the stage in numerous school musicals, along with fellow pupil Rob Brydon. After studying drama at Warwick University, she struggled at first to find work as an acto...more

  • Jeremy Deller, artist.

    Jan 06 2019

    The Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller is perhaps best known for We’re Here Because We’re Here, a moving and powerful memorial to the Battle of the Somme, and The Battle of Orgreave – a re-enactment of the confrontation between police and pickets at the height of the miners’ strike. Deller doesn’t paint, draw or sculpt and his work encompasses film, photography and installations. At school his creative endeavours were not always appreciated, and at 13 he was asked to leave the art class...more

  • Alan Carr, comedian

    Dec 23 2018

    Alan Carr, comedian and chat show host, is known for his love of silliness, dressing up and camp daftness. His stand-up shows have filled arenas, and on TV he co-hosted the Friday Night Project and then his own show - Chatty Man. Alan was born into a footballing family – his dad, Graham, was a professional player and then a manager. Alan first tried his hand at comedy while reading Theatre Studies at Middlesex University. After he graduated, he took on a range of jobs before his ability to m...more

  • Hella Pick, journalist

    Dec 19 2018

    As one of the Guardian’s first female foreign correspondents, Hella Pick reported on events that shaped the world in the second half of the 20th century, from Martin Luther King's civil rights activism to Watergate, the Gdansk shipyard strikes to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Born in Vienna in 1929, she was raised by her mother who, in March 1939, put her on a Kindertransport train to Britain to escape the Nazis. Her mother was able to follow her to England a few months later and Hella sp...more

  • Mariana Mazzucato, economist

    Dec 16 2018

    Professor Mariana Mazzucato is an economist, who focuses on value and innovation. Born in Italy, Mariana moved to America as a child, when her father accepted a post at Princeton University. She has lived in the UK for the last 20 years and is currently Professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value and the Director of the Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose at University College London. She examined how government funding has enabled highly profitable inventions in the pr...more

  • Gary Barlow, singer-songwriter

    Dec 09 2018

    Gary Barlow, musician and Take That lead singer, has written more than a dozen chart-topping songs, and has received six Ivor Novello awards including the award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music. Born in Cheshire in 1971, his interest in music was sparked at an early age by a child’s keyboard. At the age of 10, he saw Depeche Mode on Top of the Pops, prompting the desire to take to the stage himself. He wrote A Million Love Songs, which later became a Top 10 hit for Take That, in h...more

  • Tom Kerridge, chef

    Dec 02 2018

    Tom Kerridge is a chef, restaurateur and TV presenter. Tom made his name with his Buckinghamshire pub The Hand and Flowers, which he opened with his wife in 2005. It is the only British pub with two Michelin stars. Tom grew up near Gloucester. After his parents divorced when he was 11, his mother took two jobs to support the family, and Tom was often left to cook for himself and his younger brother. As a teenager, he worked as a TV actor, playing small roles in dramas such as Miss Marple. H...more

  • Kate Atkinson, novelist

    Nov 25 2018

    Kate Atkinson won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award for her 1995 debut novel Behind the Scenes at the Museum, and has won the Costa Novel Award twice, for Life After Life in 2013 and for A God in Ruins two years later. Born in York in 1951, she was the only child of a couple who ran a medical and surgical supplies shop. She began to write after she had failed her doctorate at Dundee University and had given birth to two daughters. She took on a wide range of jobs while writing short stories ...more

  • Tracey Thorn, musican and writer

    Nov 18 2018

    Tracey Thorn, musician and writer, is best known as one half of the duo Everything but the Girl. Brought up in Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire, she bought her first guitar, a black Les Paul copy, when she was 16 and her first band was called the Stern Bobs. Shortly after, she formed her own all-female band, Marine Girls, before moving to Hull University to study English. On her first night there, she met her future husband, Ben Watt, and they went on to form Everything But the Girl. Between 1982...more

  • Vanley Burke, photographer

    Nov 04 2018

    Vanley Burke is a Jamaican-born photographer often described as the Godfather of Black British Photography. His body of work is regarded as the greatest photographic record of African Caribbean people in post-war Britain. He is motivated by a desire to document culture and history. Vanley was born in 1951 in St Thomas, Jamaica. When he was four, his mother emigrated to Britain to train as a nurse, leaving him in his grandparents’ care. His mother sent him a Box Brownie camera as a present whe...more

  • Jacqueline Gold

    Oct 28 2018

    Jacqueline Gold is the CEO of the retail brands Ann Summers and Knickerbox. She joined the business at the age of 19 for work experience, and faced resistance because her father, David Gold, was the owner. By the time she was 21, she had persuaded the largely sceptical all-male board to invest in her radical idea: to re-invent the Ann Summers brand by selling lingerie and sex toys at women-only parties held in their homes. Along with the parties, there are now over 100 high street shops, with ...more

  • Venki Ramakrishnan

    Oct 21 2018

    Venki Ramakrishnan is a Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist. He is most renowned for his research into the atomic structure of the ribosome - a complex molecule in the cell which translates DNA into chains of amino acids that build proteins, the essence of life. This work eventually secured Venki a Nobel Prize in 2009, which he shared with Ada Yonath and Thomas Steitz. Venki was born in Tamil Nadu, in the south of India. Both his parents were scientists, and both pursued postgraduate stu...more

  • Nile Rodgers

    Oct 14 2018

    Nile Rodgers is a Grammy-winning composer, musician, and producer. With his own band, Chic, he's been enticing people on to the dance floor since the mid-1970s with hits like Le Freak and Good Times. With over 200 production credits to his name, he has worked on many highly successful albums from Sister Sledge’s We Are Family to David Bowie’s Let’s Dance and Madonna’s Like a Virgin. Born in New York City in 1952 to a teenage mother, he spent his early life immersed in his parents’ bohemian, bea...more

  • Thea Musgrave

    Oct 07 2018

    Composer Thea Musgrave celebrated her 90th birthday this year, an event marked by celebrations and concerts around the world, including the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival. She has published more than 150 compositions, including major orchestral works and numerous operas, and continues to write every day. Thea was born in Edinburgh in May 1928, and still has sharp memories of hearing news of the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940. She learned the piano as a child, but had ambitions...more

  • Tom Daley

    Sep 30 2018

    Tom Daley started diving aged seven and by the age of 14 was representing Great Britain at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. He has won six British Championships, three European Championships and won the World Championships in 2009 and 2017. Born in Plymouth in 1994, he’s the oldest son of Rob and Debbie Daley. He has two younger brothers. His success at a very young age led to widespread media attention, but as he became famous, he was bullied and had to change schools at the age of 15. His parent...more

  • Henry Marsh

    Sep 23 2018

    Henry Marsh is a neurosurgeon, who pioneered a technique of operating on the brain while the patient is under local anaesthetic. The procedure is now standard practice. He is also an acclaimed writer. He was born in 1950 in Oxford, where his father was an academic. His mother came to England as a political refugee from Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. Henry did not initially pursue a career in medicine: after dropping out of university, he found work as a hospital porter, and only then decided ...more

  • Danielle de Niese

    Sep 16 2018

    Danielle de Niese is a soprano who has taken starring roles with leading opera companies around the world. She was born in Melbourne, Australia, to Sri Lankan parents, and at the age of eight she won a national TV talent show, singing a pop medley. When she was ten, her parents moved the family to Los Angeles, so that she could pursue her dream of becoming an opera singer. She also presented a TV programme, L.A. Kids, for which she won an Emmy award at the age of 16. She made her professional...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Malorie Blackman

    Sep 09 2018

    Another chance to listen to the writer speaking to Kirsty Young in 2013. A prolific and multi-award winning author, Malorie Blackman has powered her way to success not just through talent but determination and perseverance. From the careers mistress who told her, "black people don't become teachers," to the 82 rejection letters she received before she was published, significant parts of her life seem to have been spent proving people wrong. A technology whiz, her first career was in computing. A...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Dame Cicely Saunders

    Sep 02 2018

    Another chance to listen to the founder of the Hospice Movement speaking to Sue Lawley in 1995. Dame Cicely Saunders talks about her schooldays at Roedean, how she trained as a nurse and much later, as a doctor. When she was 29 she fell in love with a young patient dying of cancer, who bequeathed her a legacy of £500. Starting with that bequest, she raised enough money for a new kind of hospice dedicated to care for the dying. Favourite track: Symphony No 7 in A Major by Ludwig van Beethove...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Cilla Black

    Aug 26 2018

    Another chance to listen to the singer and television presenter speaking to Sue Lawley in 1988. Cilla Black reveals her three remaining burning ambitions in life: to make a number-one record, to become a grandmother and to be treated as a real sex symbol - all this with 25 years of singing and compering success behind her. The matchmaker supreme also talks about her legendary early days in Liverpool, her subsequent career and her family. Favourite track: The Long and Winding Road by The Beat...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Brian Redhead

    Aug 19 2018

    Another chance to listen to the journalist and broadcaster speaking to Michael Parkinson in 1986. Brian Redhead presented the Today programme for almost 20 years. He talks about his appearance on Children's Hour as a clarinetist, his early days as a journalist on the Manchester Guardian and his editorship of the Manchester Evening News. Favourite track: Clarinet Quintet in B Minor - 2nd Movement by Johannes Brahms Book: Commentary on the Bible by Arthur Pink Luxury: Taj Mahal

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Sir Michael Tippett

    Aug 12 2018

    Another chance to listen to the composer speaking to Roy Plomley in 1985. Sir Michael Tippett is regarded as one of the foremost composers of the twentieth century. Other than a period as Director of Music at Morley College, he allowed very little to distract him from composition. His output includes four symphonies, four operas, four string quartets and several concertos. Favourite track: Vespro Della Beata Vergine by Claudio Monteverdi Book: Blank pages Luxury: Egg timer

  • Pam Ayres

    Aug 05 2018

    Pam Ayres is a poet and broadcaster. Pam was born in the Vale of the White Horse and retains her characteristic Berkshire burr. She is the youngest of six children, and grew up in the company of her four brothers and a sister in a small council house. Although she was interested in writing from an early age, she failed her 11-plus exam and left school at 15 to join the Civil Service and later the Women's Royal Air Force, where she found opportunities to appear in amateur dramatics. She bega...more

  • Marianne Elliott

    Jul 29 2018

    Marianne Elliott is the first woman to win two Tony awards for theatre direction: the first for War Horse and the second for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. Both transferred to Broadway from the National Theatre, London, and have gone on to travel the world. Marianne's parents, grandparents and great-grandparents all worked in the theatre. Her father, Michael Elliott, was a founding director of the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester and her mother, Rosalind Knight, now in ...more

  • Baroness Newlove

    Jul 22 2018

    Baroness Newlove is the Victims' Commissioner for England and Wales. She became a campaigner after her husband, Garry Newlove, was murdered by several youths in 2007. Born in Salford in 1961 she grew up in a working class family. Having left school at sixteen she became a copy typist at a magistrate's court and later a committal court assistant. She met Garry when she was 20 and they married and had two daughters. In 1992, when he was just 32, Garry was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He survived...more

  • Billie Jean King

    Jul 15 2018

    Billie Jean King won 39 Grand Slams and a total of 20 Wimbledon titles and is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Born in California in 1943, she was the eldest daughter of Bill and Betty Moffitt. She discovered tennis at the age of ten: at 15 she won in her age bracket at the Southern California championships, and in 1961, she won the women's doubles at Wimbledon with Karen Hantze, the youngest pair to achieve such a victory. In 1968, when professional competitors we...more

  • Philip Treacy

    Jul 08 2018

    Philip Treacy is one of the most prolific and acclaimed hat designers working in the UK. His work was very much in evidence at this year's Royal Wedding and at Royal Ascot. Meghan Markle wore one of his designs for her first official public engagement as the Duchess of Sussex. Other notable clients include Madonna, Tina Turner, Grace Jones, who has showcased his creations on and off stage, and Lady Gaga, for whom he made a black telephone hat. Originally from Ahascragh, a small village in Co...more

  • Guy Singh-Watson

    Jul 01 2018

    Guy Singh-Watson is an organic farmer and founder of Riverford, a major British supplier of organic vegetables through a box delivery scheme. Born in 1960 and the youngest of five children, his parents became tenant farmers in Devon in 1951. He describes himself as "a proper little farm boy", and spent his free time outside, clambering up trees, catching rabbits, rearing his own pig and helping on the farm. Severely dyslexic, he disliked school, but thanks to an aptitude for performing well in...more

  • Martina Cole

    Jun 24 2018

    Martina Cole is a British crime writer, known to her fans as the Queen of Crime. Martina has written 24 novels, 15 of which have topped the original fiction sales charts - more than any other author. She has sold more than 16 million books around the world, and her work has been translated into 29 languages. She also works in prisons, leading reading schemes and writing workshops for prisoners. Martina grew up in Essex, the youngest of five children born to Irish parents. She was expelled fro...more

  • John Motson

    Jun 17 2018

    John Walker Motson, OBE, also known as Motty, has been commentating on football since 1971. He covered more than 2000 games on television and radio, including all the major football championships, 29 FA Cup finals (with an additional five replays), 10 World Cups, 10 European Championships and 200 England games. At the age of 72 he's just retired. Known not only for his footballing knowledge and his voice, he is often recognised by his knee-length sheepskin coat. His passion for football was ign...more

  • Professor Carlos Frenk

    Jun 10 2018

    Professor Carlos Frenk is a cosmologist and one of the originators of the Cold Dark Matter theory for the formation of galaxies and the structure of the universe. He has worked at Durham University since 1985, where he was appointed the inaugural Ogden Professor of Fundamental Physics in 2001 and has been Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology since 2002. Born in Mexico in 1951, he is the son of a German Jewish immigrant father and a Mexican mother with Spanish roots. After comp...more

  • Gillian Reynolds

    Jun 03 2018

    Gillian Reynolds spent 42 years as the radio critic of the Daily Telegraph before she was headhunted by the Sunday Times at the age of 82. Born into a working class family in Liverpool, her mother ran a market stall and her father was a seaman, but also a gambler. Her mother was determined to ensure that Gillian had a good education, and she was the first in her family to go to a grammar school. She went on to study English at Oxford. She took up an internship in America, where she met her hus...more

  • David Baddiel

    May 27 2018

    David Baddiel is a comedian and writer. Known both for his solo work and for his comedic collaborations with, among others, Rob Newman and Frank Skinner, he has also written a screenplay, a musical and several books. Born in 1964 to Jewish parents, the second of three boys, he was brought up in Dollis Hill, London. His father was a scientist from Swansea and his mother was a refugee, whose family had to flee from Nazi Germany. When David was 13, his older brother Ivor played him sketches by Dere...more

  • Dr Sue Black

    May 20 2018

    Dr. Sue Black is a computer scientist, academic and social entrepreneur. She was instrumental in saving Bletchley Park, the home of vital codebreaking during the second world war. Currently an honorary professor at UCL, she founded BCS Women for women in science and the social enterprise Tech Mums, which teaches parents about computing. She is also on an advisory board for the government's digital services. Born in Fareham, Hampshire, she was 12 when her mother died of a brain haemorrhage. She ...more

  • Sir Peter Lampl

    May 13 2018

    Sir Peter Lampl is a philanthropist who has given over £50 million and worked for 20 years to combat educational inequality. In 1997 he founded the Sutton Trust with the aim of improving social mobility. The Trust has funded over 200 research studies, and it initiates and supports a wide range of programmes, covering everything from early years education to access to the professions. The son of a Viennese émigré, Peter Lampl grew up in modest circumstances in Yorkshire until the age of 11, whe...more

  • Abi Morgan

    May 06 2018

    Abi Morgan is a screenwriter and playwright best known for TV dramas The Hour, River and The Split and the films Shame, Suffragette and The Iron Lady. She won two Emmy Awards for The Hour, as well as two BAFTAs for Best Single Drama for White Girl and Sex Traffic, and Meryl Streep won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Born into a theatrical family - her father was a theatre director, her mother is an actress - she only began to write during her universit...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Sue Townsend

    Apr 29 2018

    Another chance to listen to the writer speaking to Sue Lawley in 1991. Her most famous creation was Adrian Mole, and, in many respects, his life mirrored her own: like her hero, she came from a poor but not deprived background and always nursed a secret ambition to be a writer. She talks to Sue Lawley about her life and work and carefully selects eight records which remind her of some of the most significant events in her life. Favourite track: Violin Concerto in D by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Annie Lennox

    Apr 22 2018

    Another chance to listen to the singer-songwriter speaking to Kirsty Young in 2008. Her extraordinary voice has captivated us for decades and, as one half of the group Eurythmics and as a solo artist, she's sold tens of millions of records and won fistfuls of awards. As a teenager, her musical ability was her passport out of her home town of Aberdeen. At that point, a career as a flautist beckoned: but, after studying in London, she felt she could never make her mark as a classical musician. It ...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Stephen Hawking

    Apr 15 2018

    Another chance to listen to the theoretical physicist speaking to Sue Lawley in 1992. Stephen Hawking wrote the best-selling A Brief History of Time and was the founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, where he was also the Emeritus Lucasian Professor. He talked to Sue Lawley about his life and work, and the illness which left him severely disabled, as well as selecting the eight discs he would choose to take to the mythical island. Favourite track: Req...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Victoria Wood

    Apr 08 2018

    Another chance to listen to the comedian speaking to Kirsty Young in 2007. For decades she was one of our best-loved writers and performers. The television series she made - including Acorn Antiques, Dinnerladies and Housewife 49 - won her a devoted following as well as stacks of awards. But, in a moving and open interview, she describes how, as a teenager, she felt she was a misfit - she had few friends, she struggled with her weight and at school she used to steal other people's homework. S...more

  • Classic Desert Island Discs: Hugh Masekela

    Apr 01 2018

    Another chance to listen to the world famous musician speaking to Sue Lawley in 2004. As a boy growing up in the impoverished townships of South Africa, he was inspired to learn the trumpet after seeing Kirk Douglas play Bix Beiderbecke in Young Man With A Horn. He begged one of his teachers - the anti-apartheid crusader Father Trevor Huddleston - to buy him a horn and in return he promised to stay out of trouble. Hugh soon made a name for himself in South Africa but as the racial tensions i...more

  • Anne-Marie Duff

    Mar 25 2018

    Anne-Marie Duff is a stage and screen actor. Born in 1970 to Irish parents, she grew up in a working class household in west London. A shy child and a voracious reader, she took acting classes from the age of 11, but failed to get into drama school on her first attempt. Her second application to the Drama Centre in London was successful and she's barely been out of work since. She started off on stage, but gained more widespread recognition when she took the role of Fiona Gallagher in Shameles...more

  • David Byrne

    Mar 18 2018

    David Byrne was a founding member of the band Talking Heads. Born in Dumbarton, Scotland, he emigrated first to Canada and then to the USA before the age of ten. He started playing in bands at school and, when art school didn't work out for him, he founded Talking Heads with a couple of friends. They played their first gig, opening for the Ramones, at the legendary New York club CBGB's, in June 1975. Eight studio albums later, cracks were beginning to show in the relations between band members...more

  • John Gray

    Mar 11 2018

    John Gray is a philosopher. His academic career included professorships at Oxford University and the London School of Economics, and visiting professorships at Harvard and Yale in the USA. He retired from academia in 2008, and has dedicated himself to writing full time since then. He is the lead book reviewer of the New Statesman and a regular contributor to the Guardian. Born in 1948 in South Shields, his father was a Tyneside dock worker, his mother a homemaker. A voracious reader as a child,...more

  • Matt Smith

    Mar 04 2018

    Matt Smith is best known as the eleventh Timelord in the BBC One series, Doctor Who. At 26, he became the youngest actor to take the part. His future looked set to be in football: he played at youth level for Northampton Town, Nottingham Forest and Leicester City until a serious back condition ended his highly promising career prematurely. His drama teacher encouraged him to take up acting and he joined the National Youth Theatre and studied drama at the University of East Anglia. He played Lo...more

  • Dame Minouche Shafik

    Feb 25 2018

    Dame Minouche Shafik is the director of the London School of Economics and a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England. She was born in Egypt but her family had to flee the country when she was four years old, because her parents lost everything during President Nasser's nationalisation programme. Her father, a scientist, found work in America, and Minouche and her sister attended numerous schools there, before she went back to Egypt at the age of 16. She trained as an economist, studying at...more

  • Christopher Nolan

    Feb 18 2018

    Christopher Nolan is best known for reviving the Batman film franchise and for directing the blockbusters Inception and Dunkirk. His films have taken nearly $5 billion at the box office. Born in London in 1970 to an English father and an American mother, he discovered film-making at the age of seven. In what he describes as "a leap of faith", his father lent him his Super 8 camera - and he's not stopped making films since. From youthful experiments, manipulating his action figures and shooting s...more

  • Chi-chi Nwanoku

    Feb 11 2018

    Chi-chi Nwanoku is a double bass player and founder of Europe's first professional majority black and minority ethnic orchestra, Chineke!. Chi-chi is the eldest of five children, born to a Nigerian father and an Irish mother. Early on, she discovered two competing passions: playing the piano and 100 metre sprinting. She was aiming to qualify for the 1976 Olympics when she suffered a knee injury which cut short her life as an athlete. Her music teacher then suggested that she could have a career...more

  • Jack Whitehall

    Feb 04 2018

    Jack Whitehall, stand-up comedian, actor, sit-com writer and producer is Kirsty Young's castaway. He co-wrote and starred in the sitcoms Fresh Meat and Bad Education. He and his father launched their chat-show Backchat in 2013 and recently made a TV series together travelling around Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Jack played Paul Pennyfeather in a TV adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall in 2016 and has forthcoming roles in Good Omens and a film about Marc Bolan and David Bowie. The s...more

  • Garry Kasparov

    Jan 28 2018

    Garry Kasparov is a Russian chess grandmaster, who became the youngest ever world champion at the age of 22. He is also a writer and a political activist. He grew up in the Soviet Union, the only child of engineer parents. He learned chess by watching his parents play as they worked out chess problems in the newspaper. As a five year old he was fascinated by the mysterious little pieces and the board with its 64 squares. Garry Kasparov's father died when he was seven and it was his mother wh...more

  • Christina Lamb

    Jan 22 2018

    Christina Lamb is chief foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times and travels the world reporting from war zones and hot spots, speaking not just to key protagonists but also seeking out and detailing the daily impact of conflict on civilians. An only child, and brought up in Carshalton Beeches, she was a voracious reader and dreamed of being an explorer. Although she was rebellious at school, and at one point was asked to leave, she won a place at Oxford and went on to edit the university new...more

  • Angela Hartnett

    Jan 14 2018

    Angela Hartnett is a chef, TV presenter and cookery writer. She holds a Michelin star and runs her own restaurants. Angela was born in 1968 to an Italian mother and Irish father, and her culinary career has been influenced by her Italian background and her grandmother's cooking. After studying for a history degree, Angela began work in the catering industry before joining Gordon Ramsay at his restaurant Aubergine. In 2002 she took over at the Connaught, London, as the first woman chef to run i...more

  • Charlie Brooker

    Jan 07 2018

    Charlie Brooker is a satirist, broadcaster and writer. He created the Emmy-award winning series, Black Mirror, and presents Screenwipe and Newswipe which won Best Comedy Entertainment Show award at the British Comedy Awards in 2011. Born in 1971, his career has been influenced both by his early love of technology - he was a keen computer gamer - and by his passion for the anarchic, surreal and experimental comedy of Monty Python and The Young Ones. After creating his own comic while at school,...more

  • 75 Years of Desert Island Discs

    Dec 31 2017

    75 Years of Desert Island Discs - Kirsty Young ends the programme's anniversary year with some gems from the archive, including the creator of the format, Roy Plomley, actress Bebe Daniels, broadcaster Richard Dimbleby, trumpeter Louis Armstrong, politician Dame Barbara Castle and cellist Jacqueline du Pre. Kirsty also chooses some of her favourite moments with Dame Judi Dench, Sir David Attenborough, comedian Sarah Millican, the surgeon David Nott and rugby referee Nigel Owens.

  • Bruno Tonioli

    Dec 24 2017

    Bruno Tonioli, dancer, choreographer and a judge on BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing, is Kirsty's guest. He was brought up in Ferrara, Northern Italy, and was the only child of hard-working parents who hoped he would be an accountant. Bruno wanted to pursue a creative career and joined a raunchy cabaret dance troupe when he was a teenager, and performed across Europe. He went on to train in other areas of dance and choreography and spent the 1980s working on pop videos with The Rolling Stones, E...more

  • Christine McVie

    Dec 17 2017

    Christine McVie enjoyed huge success with Fleetwood Mac, penning many of their signature songs including You Make Loving Fun, Oh Daddy, Little Lies, Everywhere and Songbird. The band has sold more than 100 million records and the album Rumours remains one of the most popular discs of all time, with sales of more than 40 million copies. The album was recorded during 1976 whilst the band members were going through relationship break-ups and the stories of excess and drug taking during the 1970s an...more

  • Kelsey Grammer

    Dec 10 2017

    Kelsey Grammer is best known for his two-decade-long portrayal of psychiatrist Dr Frasier Crane which began on the NBC sitcom Cheers. He continued the role in the hugely successful spin-off series Frasier which ran for 11 years. When the series ended in 2004, it had won a total of 35 Emmys. Born in the Virgin Islands, he was brought up by his mother and maternal grandparents in Florida, after his parents divorced. He studied drama at the Julliard School in New York but left before the end of t...more

  • Tim Martin

    Dec 03 2017

    Tim Martin is the chairman and founder of the pub company JD Wetherspoon. He opened his first pub, Martin's Free House, in 1979 in North London. Now the chain employs 37,000 people, in 891 pubs of which 54 are hotels. Travelling from his home in Devon, Tim visits at least ten of them a week taking detailed 'call notes' on the staff, the beer, the quality of the food and even the cutlery. In 2016 he became one of the most high-profile UK business people arguing in favour in leaving the EU. He p...more

  • Naomi Klein

    Nov 26 2017

    The writer and activist Naomi Klein reached an international audience with her first book, the best-selling No Logo, a rallying cry against the power of corporate brands and the replacement of traditional manufacturing jobs with sweatshop labour. Since then, she's turned her intellectual ire on to even bigger terrain - the political and economic systems underpinning capitalism and climate change. The way to save the planet, she says, requires a radical rethink which will address what she calls...more

  • Micky Flanagan

    Nov 19 2017

    Micky Flanagan found mainstream success as a comedian in 2007 with his autobiographical 'What Chance Change?' show at the Edinburgh fringe, where he was nominated as best newcomer. Raised in the East End of London, he left school at 15 with no qualifications and followed his dad into work as a fish porter at Billingsgate fish market. When he quit that job, he spent a summer working in a kitchen in New York, and then returned to London to spend much of the 1980s working in the furniture trade. ...more

  • Anna Pavord

    Nov 12 2017

    Anna Pavord, writer & gardener, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs Producer: Cathy Drysdale.

  • Professor Phil Scraton

    Nov 05 2017

    Professor Phil Scraton is Professor Emeritus at the School of Law at Queen's University Belfast. A criminologist and author, he's director of the Childhood, Transition and Social Justice Initiative and was lead researcher of the Hillsborough Independent Panel. Born into a working class family in Wallasey in the Wirral in 1949, he attended a seminary at the age of 12. Deciding the religious life was not for him he worked as a bus conductor before attending Liverpool University where he read Soc...more

  • Kay Mellor

    Oct 29 2017

    Kay Mellor, OBE, is an English screenwriter and director best known for TV drama series including Band of Gold, Playing the Field, Fat Friends and The Syndicate. She has won a Bafta award, along with numerous nominations, and she received a Royal Television Society Fellowship in 2016. She has also worked as an actress, and has written for the stage. Kay was born in Leeds and has lived there all her life. It's also the home of her production company. Her highly successful career now seems world...more

  • Edna Adan Ismail

    Oct 22 2017

    Edna Adan Ismail is a midwife and campaigner. As a 12 year old growing up in British Somaliland, her dream was to build her own hospital. It took her some 50 years and all her savings to realise her ambition, and the state of the art hospital she built is a testament to her passion and dogged determination. Nursing and midwifery have been her life since she won a scholarship to study in the UK in the mid-1950s, when she cycled to appointments in her black raincoat to deliver babies all around ...more

  • Jane Gardam

    Oct 15 2017

    Jane Gardam is best known for her trilogy of novels about an ex-colonial QC nicknamed Old Filth. A writer for both adults and children, she has won two Whitbread awards, the Katherine Mansfield Award and has been shortlisted for the Booker and the Orange Prize for Fiction. Born in 1928, she grew up in North Yorkshire where her father was a schoolmaster at a small independent boys' school. Her mother wrote sermons and was an inveterate letter-writer. After graduating, Jane had a number of litera...more

  • Sir James MacMillan

    Oct 08 2017

    Sir James MacMillan is a Scottish composer and conductor. He's one of Britain's most successful living classical composers, with his percussion concerto, Veni Veni Emmanuel, receiving more than 600 performances since its premiere in 1992. He draws inspiration from both the spiritual and the secular: many of his works draw on his Roman Catholic faith, while his passion for Celtic football club provided the initial spark for a piano concerto. James MacMillan grew up in Cumnock, East Ayrshire, tra...more

  • Siddhartha Mukherjee

    Oct 01 2017

    Siddhartha Mukherjee is a cancer specialist. His biography of the disease, The Emperor of All Maladies, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010. A haematologist and oncologist by training, his research focuses on cancer therapy and gene functions related to blood cells. His latest book, The Gene, goes in search of normality, identity, variation and heredity. Born in India in 1970 he grew up with his extended family in Delhi. In his youth he trained as an Indian classical singer before travelling to the...more

  • Professor Dame Jane Francis

    Sep 24 2017

    Professor Dame Jane Francis is the Director of the British Antarctic Survey. She is no stranger to surviving in extreme conditions, because for much of her career her research has taken her to the Polar Regions. Travelling with her fossil hammer, her principal interests are in palaeoclimatology and palaeobotany. She specialises in the study of fossil plants, and how they shape our understanding of climates in the distant past, when Antarctica was much warmer. In 2002 she received the Polar M...more

  • Paul Greengrass

    Sep 17 2017

    Paul Greengrass has directed three Jason Bourne films, starring Matt Damon, Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks in the title role, and the 9/11 film United 93, which earned him an Academy Award nomination. He won a Bafta for the film The Murder of Stephen Lawrence, and he wrote and directed the acclaimed Bloody Sunday. His father was a merchant seaman and his mother a teacher and he grew up in Gravesend in Kent. Expelled from his first secondary school, at his next he made his first film at the ag...more

  • Dr Kevin Fong

    Aug 06 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Dr. Kevin Fong. He is a consultant anaesthetist at University College Hospital London, and an expert on space medicine. He is a senior lecturer in Physiology at UCL and the co-director of the Centre for Aviation, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine. Born to parents who had come to the UK from Mauritius, he grew up in London. His parents put great emphasis on education - which they had both missed out on in their youth. Kevin's first degree was in astrophysics and h...more

  • Sheryl Sandberg

    Jul 30 2017

    Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, is Kirsty Young's castaway. She worked for Google at the beginning of the tech boom before joining Facebook in 2008. Raised in Miami Beach, Florida, she studied economics at Harvard. She became chief of staff for Larry Summers, Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, before moving to Silicon Valley. Sheryl published her first book called Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead in 2013 which tried to answer the question why so few women rea...more

  • Jayne-Anne Gadhia

    Jul 23 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Chief Executive of Virgin Money. She is currently the government's Women in Finance Champion. She worked for Fred Goodwin at RBS just prior to the financial crisis before returning to Virgin Money in 2007. A mother of one, she endured many miscarriages and has written about her experience of post-natal depression following her daughter's birth. An only child, she was brought up first in the Midlands, then in East Anglia. She was one of very few girl...more

  • John McEnroe

    Jul 16 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the tennis player and commentator, John McEnroe. He won three singles and five doubles Wimbledon titles, four singles and four doubles at the US Open and was ranked number one in the world for four consecutive years in the 1980s. John McEnroe grew up in New York and didn't pick up a tennis racquet until the age of eight, but his talent was quickly spotted and he began to compete in junior tournaments. In 1977, aged 18 and between high school and university, he qualif...more

  • Sue Perkins

    Jul 09 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the comedian and TV presenter Sue Perkins. She and her friend Mel Giedroyc first appeared as a comedy duo at the Edinburgh Fringe over 20 years ago and together they presented the first seven series of The Great British Bake Off. Born at the end of the 1960s, Sue grew up in Croydon, the eldest of three siblings. By her own description a "shy and awkward" child, she nonetheless made it to Cambridge University to study English. She and Mel met at a Footlights open mi...more

  • Professor Carlo Rovelli

    Jul 02 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the theoretical physicist, Professor Carlo Rovelli. His book 'Seven Brief Lessons on Physics' became one of the fastest-selling science titles of all time, catapulting him from the world of academia into the global spotlight. Committed to bridging the gap between science and art and making complex scientific issues comprehensible for the lay person, he is currently Professor of Physics at Aix-Marseille University. Born in Verona, and an only child, he was encouraged ...more

  • Stella McCartney

    Jun 25 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the fashion designer Stella McCartney. Born the middle child of Paul and Linda McCartney, Stella's early years were a paradox: she would either spend her days riding ponies, sharing one of two bedrooms with her sisters in a farmhouse, and generally mucking around in the countryside - or touring the world with her parents' band Wings and spending time in the company of stars such as David Bowie and Iggy Pop. Amid the tours and travelling, she believes her pa...more

  • Jed Mercurio

    Jun 18 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Jed Mercurio. Creator of Line of Duty, and an award-winning TV writer, producer, director and novelist, he is one of the few British script-writers to work as an American-style show-runner. A former hospital doctor and RAF officer, he has been ranked among UK television's leading writers by TV industry magazine Broadcast. His Italian parents moved to the UK after the Second World War and he was brought up in Cannock in the Midlands. Keen on science as a child, with d...more

  • Rick Wakeman

    Jun 11 2017

    Rick Wakeman, musician and composer, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs Producer: Paula McGinley.

  • Sonia Friedman

    Jun 04 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the theatre producer, Sonia Friedman. Acclaimed as the most influential producer in British theatre today, she has produced over 160 new shows. They include Funny Girl with Sheridan Smith, Jerusalem starring Mark Rylance, Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet, the record-breaking Book of Mormon and the musicals Legally Blonde, and Dreamgirls. Her productions both here and on Broadway have won numerous awards, including a record-breaking 14 Olivier Awards in 2014, and nine th...more

  • Elif Shafak

    May 28 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the Turkish writer Elif Shafak. Elif Shafak has published ten novels and several volumes of non-fiction and her work is translated into 47 languages. She is the most widely read female novelist in Turkey today. Born in 1971, she was raised by a single working mother and also, for the first ten years of her life, by her grandmother in Ankara. Her mother's job as a diplomat led to a move to Madrid when Elif was ten years old - and so began a peripatetic life...more

  • Demis Hassabis

    May 21 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Dr Demis Hassabis. An artificial intelligence researcher and co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, he is also a neuroscientist, a computer games designer, an entrepreneur, and in his youth, a world-class chess player. Born in 1976, he was introduced to chess aged four and, by the age of twelve, was the world's second-highest ranked player for his age. With his winnings, he bought himself a PC and taught himself to code. After taking his A Levels two years early, before goin...more

  • Liz Lochhead

    May 14 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the writer and poet Liz Lochhead. She was the Makar, the Scottish national poet, between 2011 and 2016. Liz was born in Motherwell, not far from Glasgow, in 1947. She was always drawing at school and so decided to study at the Glasgow School of Art, where she didn't enjoy the drawing, but did start writing. After winning a poetry competition, she started performing her poems at readings in Scotland. She published her first pamphlet of poetry, Memo for Sp...more

  • Ed Sheeran

    May 07 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Ed Sheeran. His songs have brought him two Grammys, four Brit awards and global success. Shortly after the release of his latest album, Divide, tracks from it occupied nine of the top 10 places in the UK singles chart. Born into a creative family, Ed had piano and cello lessons as a youngster and briefly sang in a local church choir. At the age of 11, seeing Eric Clapton play Layla on TV at the Queen's Golden Jubilee concert inspired him to take up the guita...more

  • Arundhati Roy

    Mar 26 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the writer, Arundhati Roy. She won the Booker Prize for her first novel, The God Of Small Things, which has been translated into 40 languages and became the best-selling book ever by a non-expatriate Indian. After a gap of 20 years, her second novel will be published in June. Brought up in Kerala, her Syrian Christian mother left her marriage when her children were young and set up a small school where Arundhati and her brother were educated. Raised to be independent,...more

  • Amanda Levete

    Mar 19 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the architect Amanda Levete. She won the Stirling prize in 1998 for the Media Centre at Lord's Cricket Ground which she designed with then husband, the late Jan Kaplicky. Later this year the Victoria and Albert Museum in London will open her extension, featuring a new entrance, courtyard and gallery. Brought up in Richmond, the oldest of three children, she showed her independent spirit early on, and left school at 16. She discovered architecture while on a...more

  • Marian Keyes

    Mar 12 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the writer Marian Keyes. Her twelve novels to date have sold 35 million copies and are published in 33 languages. Some of her novels have been adapted for the screen. She has also published three volumes of journalism. Marian was born the eldest of five children in Ireland in 1963. While she was academically successful at school, she says she wasn't taught to think for herself, which left her ill prepared for university where she studied law. After completing her d...more

  • Jimmy Carr

    Mar 05 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the comedian and television presenter Jimmy Carr. He is the son of Irish immigrant parents and grew up in Berkshire. Despite being dyslexic, he got good enough A levels to study at Cambridge University. After graduating with a degree in Political Science, and working for a major multinational company in London, Jimmy had what he calls an 'early midlife crisis', during which he lost his Catholic faith and was generally unhappy. He attended lots of therapy courses ...more

  • Dame Katherine Grainger

    Feb 26 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the Olympian and rower, Dame Katherine Grainger. A six-time rowing World Champion across a variety of classes, her silver medal at Rio in 2016 made her the most successful female British Olympic athlete ever, having won medals in five consecutive games. Born in Glasgow in 1975, her parents were teachers. At school she earned a black belt in karate, and it wasn't until she went to Edinburgh University that her passion for rowing was truly ignited. Winning silver medals...more

  • Sir Antony Beevor

    Feb 19 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway is military historian, Sir Antony Beevor. His books about some of the key battles of the Second World War are best-sellers and have been credited with reinvigorating the whole genre. There was little indication of this future success while he was boarder at Winchester public school where he failed to pass either his History or his English A levels. During the five years he spent in the army, including two years at Sandhurst for officer training, he studied history under...more

  • Clive James

    Feb 16 2017

    Roy Plomley's castaway is broadcaster and writer Clive James. Favourite track: Baby Love by Diana Ross and The Supremes Book: Book about how to build a plane out of palm fronds and coconut fibre by Willy Messerschmitt Luxury: Space invaders

  • June Brown

    Feb 12 2017

    June Brown is best known today for her role as the long-suffering chain-smoking Dot Cotton (now Dot Branning) in the BBC TV soap EastEnders. She arrived on a three month contract in 1985 and is still in the show. She was nominated for a BAFTA in 2008. She celebrates her 90th birthday in February 2017 and has no intention of retiring as acting "keeps her alive". June was born in Suffolk and brought up in a music-loving family. Towards the end of World War Two, she joined up, choosing the WRNS ...more

  • Nigel Owens

    Feb 05 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the rugby union referee Nigel Owens. His steely authority and quick wit on the field have won him worldwide praise - he's widely regarded as one of the best referees in the business for the impact he makes on the flow and coherence of a game. In 2015 he became the second Welsh official since 1991 to referee a World Cup Final - in a memorable match between New Zealand and Australia. Born and raised in a small village in Carmarthenshire, he first picked up th...more

  • David Beckham

    Jan 29 2017

    David Beckham is Kirsty Young's guest as Desert Island Discs celebrates its 75th Anniversary. As a professional footballer he's the only Englishman to win the league titles in England, Spain, the US and France. He spent the bulk of his career as a midfielder for Manchester United, winning the Treble - Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League - in 1999, before moving to Real Madrid in 2003. He headed to the US to play for LA Galaxy in 2007, and ended his career at Paris Saint-Germain in 2013, r...more

  • Desert Island Discs at 75

    Jan 28 2017

    Kirsty Young celebrates 75 years of Desert Island Discs with some of the wonderful voices in the archive and chooses some of her favourite interviews from her 10 years as presenter. From Dustin Hoffman to Maya Angelou, Stephen Hawking to Victoria Wood, we have glimpses into the castaways' lives and times. Coronation Street stalwart, Betty Driver explains why she chose a song she hates to take with her to the island, Dawn French recalls the infamous 'puddle' scene in the Vicar of Dibley a...more

  • Caitlin Moran

    Jan 22 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the writer Caitlin Moran. A columnist for The Times newspaper for 25 years, she's published five books and co-wrote the Channel 4 sitcom Raised by Wolves. The eldest of eight children, and raised on benefits on a council estate in Wolverhampton, she was taken out of school by her parents aged eleven and educated herself at the library and by watching television, reading all the classics and learning from popular culture. She started writing early and after...more

  • Wayne McGregor

    Jan 15 2017

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the choreographer Wayne McGregor. Despite his background in contemporary dance, he has been resident choreographer at the Royal Ballet - the first from outside the company - for the past ten years. He has brought to Covent Garden a fascination with technology, a passion for collaborative efforts with visual artists and musicians, and he is renowned for drawing inspiration particularly from the field of science. Born in Stockport in 1970 to Scottish parents, he was ...more

  • Pinky Lilani

    Jan 08 2017

    Pinky Lilani, who was awarded a CBE in 2015 for services to women in business, is the founder of the annual Asian Women of Achievement Awards and the Women of the Future Awards. She also runs her own company, which uses Indian food as a means of team-building, and has published two cook books. Pinky was born in Calcutta, now Kolkata, where her parents were affluent and very sociable. They employed one of the best cooks in the city, so Pinky grew up surrounded by people and food. While she enjoy...more

  • Sir Kenneth Grange

    Jan 01 2017

    Sir Kenneth Grange is a designer. He's been designing elements of our everyday lives for the past six decades. Born in London in 1929, he went to Willesden art school aged fourteen and four years later he left and embarked on a remarkable career. He is still working today at 87 years old. "Why would I stop? I mean, if a bloke can play the piano, you don't stop him playing it, do you?" His long career stretches from the early days of modernism to the digital age. One of his first big jobs was wo...more

  • Gareth Malone

    Dec 25 2016

    Gareth Malone is a choirmaster who has coaxed and cajoled people from nervous adults to reluctant teenagers to open their mouths and sing for the pure joy of it - in front of television cameras. Gareth's first two TV series, which charted his attempts to build successful choirs in schools with little or no tradition of singing together, both won major awards, and gripped and inspired viewers. He has since also worked widely on TV with adult groups from a wide range of backgrounds, and his Mili...more

  • Bruce Springsteen

    Dec 18 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Bruce Springsteen. His career has brought him 20 Grammys, two Golden Globes, an Academy Award and his albums sell in their millions around the world. He grew up in New Jersey where the Catholic church played a central role in his early life. The family teetered on the brink of poverty, and his first guitar was rented, rather than bought. He spent his apprentice years as a musician and singer with local bands before landing a record deal in 1972. When 'Born t...more

  • Sir Philip Craven

    Dec 14 2016

    Sir Philip Craven is the President of the International Paralympic Committee and a former wheelchair basketball athlete. Craven represented Great Britain in wheelchair basketball at five editions of the Paralympic Games, from 1972 to 1988. He also competed in track and field athletics and swimming at the 1972 Games. He won gold at the wheelchair basketball World Championships in 1973, and bronze in 1975, as well as two gold medals (1971, 1974) and a silver (1993) at the European Championships....more

  • Davina McCall

    Dec 11 2016

    Davina McCall is an English television presenter. She began her career on MTV before moving to Channel 4 with the cult hit Streetmate. She was the presenter of Big Brother during its run on Channel 4 between 2000 and 2010 and enjoyed it so much that she planned her family around the transmission schedule. All three of her children were born in September. Davina hosts a variety of prime time and popular programmes including ITV's Long Lost Family which seeks to reunite family members. Her own...more

  • Emma Bridgewater

    Nov 27 2016

    Emma Bridgewater is a British ceramic designer and businesswoman. She set up her pottery business in 1985 in Stoke-on-Trent, when many other manufacturers in the city were either closing down or going overseas. Her pottery is instantly recognizable, decorated with polka dots, stars, hearts or elegant lettering using 19th century sponge-printing techniques. It is an unlikely career for someone who studied English at University. Together with her husband, illustrator Matthew Rice, Emma Bridgewate...more

  • Nicola Adams

    Nov 20 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Nicola Adams. She made history when she won the first ever Olympic gold medal in women's boxing at London 2012, retaining it in Rio 2016. She is the first woman fighter to hold European, World, Commonwealth and Olympic titles. Having watched classic Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard fights on TV as she was growing up, she entered the ring for the first time at a working men's club when she was only 13. When she was 14, her mother contracted meningitis and for severa...more

  • Yotam Ottolenghi

    Nov 18 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the cookery writer and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi. His food mixes the flavours of the Middle East and the Mediterranean and has been credited with changing the way many eat and cook, fuelling the surge in popularity of cooking ingredients including wakame seaweed, orange blossom, pomegranate seeds and za'atar. Born to a German mother and an Italian father in Jerusalem, he grew up enjoying a wide range of culinary influences and he loved food from an early age. Aft...more

  • Ali Smith

    Nov 06 2016

    Ali Smith is a Scottish writer. Born in Inverness in 1962, the youngest of five children by seven years, she says, "I grew up completely alone but with all the comforts of knowing I had a cushioning family structure around me - and yet I could free myself from it." After reading English at Aberdeen and nearly completing a PhD at Cambridge, she started down an academic path, winning a lectureship at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, but she soon decided that academia wasn't for her. She gave h...more

  • Michael Bublé

    Nov 01 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the singer, Michael Bublé. Born in Burnaby, British Columbia, as a young boy he spent hours listening to his grandfather's record collection which featured the stars of the Great American songbook - Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald. At sixteen he was singing at venues often in exchange for the free plumbing services his grandad offered to get him on stage. But it took ten years of plugging away at restaurants, clubs, and corporate gigs before he met David...more

  • Jackie Kay

    Oct 23 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the poet and writer Jackie Kay. Born in Edinburgh in 1961 to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father, she was adopted as a baby by a white Scottish couple, Helen and John Kay, and grew up in Bishopbriggs, Glasgow. Her father worked for the Communist Party and her mother was the Scottish secretary for CND. She began to write seriously at the age of 17 when recovering from a moped accident, and while reading English at the University of Stirling she became a feminist and...more

  • Dr Robert Langer

    Oct 16 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the scientist Dr Robert Langer. Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is the most cited engineer in history, and was awarded the prestigious US medals of both Science and of Technology and Innovation. A pioneer of many new technologies including controlled release drug delivery systems and nanotechnology, Langer is also regarded as the founder of tissue engineering in regenerative medicine where synthetic structures are used to provide th...more

  • Stephen Hough

    Oct 09 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the concert pianist and composer Stephen Hough. He discovered he liked playing the piano when he went to visit his aunt's house and could pick out more than one hundred nursery rhymes on her piano. After much pestering, his parents bought him a cheap second hand piano from an antique shop. He went on to become one of the youngest students at the Royal Northern College of Music before winning a scholarship to The Juilliard School in New York. His career began in 1983...more

  • Christiane Amanpour

    Oct 02 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the journalist and broadcaster Christiane Amanpour. Her career as a reporter was forged in some of the world's most hostile environments from Bosnia to Rwanda and Iraq to Israel. From the early '90s onwards she was so ubiquitous on screen that her peers in the press pack coined the darkly comic phrase "where there's a war, there's Amanpour." Born to an Iranian father and a British mother, she initially wanted to be a doctor, but the Revolution in Iran in 1979 galvanis...more

  • Joyce DiDonato

    Sep 25 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato. Winner of two Grammy Awards, she is best known for her interpretations of Handel, Mozart and Rossini operas. Born into a Catholic family in Kansas, she was the second-youngest of seven children. Her love of music was awakened by watching her late father directing the local church choir. Her first ambition was to become a music teacher, but watching a televised performance of Don Giovanni during her third year at college ignited her int...more

  • Nadiya Hussain

    Aug 14 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the baker and winner of The Great British Bake Off in 2015, Nadiya Hussain. One of six children born to Bangladeshi parents in Luton, it was her father - a restaurateur - who encouraged her to cook. Having grown up in a culture where dessert wasn't common, her love of baking was awakened by her Year Ten home economics teacher. She had an arranged marriage to Abdal in her early twenties and stayed at home to bring up their three children until her husband encouraged ...more

  • Michael Heath

    Aug 07 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the cartoonist Michael Heath. He's been working for newspapers and magazines for sixty years and sold his first drawing to the Melody Maker in the 1950s. For the past twenty five years he's been the cartoon editor of The Spectator magazine. Born in London in 1935, his early schooling was interrupted by the Second World War and by the age of twelve he was still unable to read and write. Both his parents drew professionally and after one unhappy year at art college, Mi...more

  • Professor Dame Ann Dowling

    Jul 24 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the engineer and international expert on aircraft noise reduction, Professor Dame Ann Dowling. The first female president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, one of her passions is encouraging more young people, particularly women to choose engineering as a career. In 1998 she became the first female professor of Engineering at Cambridge University and went on to be the first female head of the Department. As a child she was fascinated with how things worked, taki...more

  • Levi Roots

    Jul 17 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the entrepreneur, Levi Roots. His business success began following an appearance on BBC Two's Dragon's Den in 2007. With guitar in hand, he sang about his 'Reggae reggae sauce' which he had been selling for years at London's Notting Hill Carnival. Both Peter Jones and Richard Farleigh invested in the business and within six weeks, his sauce was bottled and on supermarket shelves. Recipe books, TV shows and a restaurant, or 'rastaurant' followed. He is the youngest of...more

  • Nicole Farhi

    Jul 10 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the designer and sculptor Nicole Farhi. Born into a Turkish family in France, Nicole's interest in fashion was present from an early age. As a child, she used to design clothes for her paper dolls; as a teenager, she was taken to couture shows in Paris by her stylish aunts. Aged eighteen, she enrolled in fashion school in Paris and began selling her design sketches to earn a little pocket money, thus setting out on a career as a freelance designer. In the early 1970s...more

  • Matthew Barzun

    Jul 03 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Matthew Barzun. Born in New York City as the second of four children to Roger Barzun, a lawyer, and his wife Serita Winthrop, he was brought up in the small Massachusetts town of Lincoln. He followed in the family tradition and read History and Literature of America at Harvard University, taking a break for a year to work as a teaching assistant in Cape Town. After graduating he worked for an internet start-up company in San Fr...more

  • Sara Khan

    Jun 26 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Sara Khan. A British Muslim human rights activist, she's the director of Inspire, a counter-extremism and women's rights organisation which she co-founded in 2009. Born in Bradford in 1980 to Pakistani parents, she decided to wear the veil when she was thirteen changing her mind eighteen years later. She studied Pharmacy at the University of Manchester but never felt she was fulfilling her potential, and set up Inspire in her home. She has been at the heart of variou...more

  • Barrie Rutter

    Jun 19 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the actor and theatre director Barrie Rutter. He is the founder and artistic director of the touring theatre company Northern Broadsides. There was nothing in his background to suggest he'd spend his life on stage. He was brought up by his father, who worked nights unloading fish in Hull. There were no books in his childhood home and he discovered his passion for theatre whilst at secondary school with the help of his English teacher who spotted his talent for perfo...more

  • Warwick Davis

    Jun 12 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the actor Warwick Davis. His career began thanks to his grandmother who heard a radio advert calling for short people to be in the latest of George Lucas's Star Wars films. He played his first role as an Ewok in Star Wars when he was 11 years old and found himself on set with his childhood heroes. Since then he's worked on all the Harry Potter films, appeared in TV sitcoms, documentaries, horror movies, quiz shows and Christmas pantomimes. Born with Spondyloepiphyse...more

  • David Nott

    Jun 05 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the surgeon, David Nott. He works across three London hospitals performing general, vascular, trauma & reconstructive surgery. In addition, for the past two decades, he's spent several weeks every year working in conflict zones around the world for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Born in Carmarthen, Wales, he was brought up by his grandparents until he was four while his parents finished their training - his Wel...more

  • Professor Louise Richardson

    May 31 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the political scientist and Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University Professor Louise Richardson. She was born in Ireland, is one of seven children and has gone on to have an international career as an academic with a particular expertise in terrorism. She has been consulted by many politicians for her knowledge and insight. After many years as a Harvard Professor, she came to Britain to be the first female Vice-Chancellor of St. Andrews University. Since January 2016, ...more

  • Berry Gordy

    May 22 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the producer Berry Gordy. He founded the Motown record label and his musical empire made worldwide stars of Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross & The Supremes, The Jackson 5 and Marvin Gaye. The second youngest of eight children, he was brought up in Detroit. He left school at sixteen to become a Featherweight boxer, and served as a soldier in the Korean war before making music his career. His first foray into the music business was a jazz record store in Det...more

  • Inga Beale

    May 15 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the business woman, Inga Beale. She has been the CEO of Lloyd's of London since January 2014 and was the first woman to hold the post in the 325 years since the insurer was founded in 1688. She is the middle child of a Norwegian mother and an English father and grew up in Newbury, Berkshire. Her career in insurance began in London in the early 1980s, but she tired of the predominantly male culture of the industry and left the City in 1989 to go travelling f...more

  • Tom Hanks

    May 08 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Tom Hanks. From 'Big' to 'Sleepless in Seattle', 'Captain Phillips' to 'Apollo 13', his long and distinguished film-making career has brought him multiple awards and many plaudits. He's the recipient of eight Emmys, one Bafta and four Golden Globes and was the youngest ever actor to be given a lifetime achievement award by the American Film institute. The voice of Woody in the 'Toy Story' films, he won the first of his two Oscars in 1993 for Philadelphia and again the...more

  • John Timpson

    Mar 27 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the businessman, John Timpson. He is chairman of his eponymous high street retailers and the business is in his blood: started by his great-grandfather in 1865 it is now run by one of his sons. Although he fulfilled his family's expectations by running the family firm, he's a man who ploughs his own furrow as all his staff are given the day off on their birthday, and can use the company's holiday homes for free. A proponent of what he calls 'upside down management',...more

  • Gloria Steinem

    Mar 20 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the writer, feminist & activist, Gloria Steinem. At the forefront of the second wave of feminism, she came to prominence after publishing an article entitled "After Black Power, Women's Liberation" in 1969. Two years later she co-founded the feminist magazine Ms. As an activist, she has spent much of her life travelling, giving talks and lecturing. Born in 1934 in Ohio, her father was a businessman who ran a lake-side resort in the summer and packed up his family at...more

  • Yinka Shonibare

    Mar 13 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the artist Yinka Shonibare MBE. His work has populated museums around the globe, with a vivid, subversive and often tragi-comic presence; exploring themes of cultural identity, post colonialism and the impact of globalisation. A Turner Prize nominee in 2004, he has exhibited at the Venice Biennial and internationally. His 'Nelson's Ship in a Bottle' became his first public art commission when it was one of the art works chosen for the Fourth Plinth in London's Trafal...more

  • Dr Dame Sue Ion

    Mar 06 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the engineer and nuclear scientist Dr Dame Sue Ion. The first woman to be awarded the highly prestigious President's Medal by the Royal Academy of Engineering, she has worked her way to the heart of an industry that remains very contentious. Her passion for understanding how and why the world works the way it does first began as she tinkered for hours at her parents' kitchen table with a little chemistry set. Today she goes into schools to encourage more girls to ta...more

  • Hugh Bonneville

    Feb 28 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Hugh Bonneville. Known around the world for his portrayal of Lord Grantham in ITV's hugely popular Downton Abbey, he made British audiences laugh with his portrayal of the hapless Ian Fletcher in the BBC comedies Twenty Twelve and W1A and charmed audiences of all ages as Mr Brown in the animated film, Paddington Bear. His immense range as an actor has ensured he's seldom been out of work since joining the National Theatre in 1987, but his thespian leanings started mu...more

  • Dame Zaha Hadid

    Feb 21 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the architect, Dame Zaha Hadid. The first woman to be awarded architecture's highest honour, the Pritzker Prize, she designed the Aquatic Centre for London 2012, Glasgow's Riverside Museum and has twice won the Stirling Prize - first for the MAXXI museum in Rome and secondly for her design for the Grace Academy school in Brixton, London. She recently became the first woman in her own right to receive the RIBA Gold Medal. She was born in Baghdad in 1950 where her fath...more

  • Ben Saunders

    Feb 14 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the polar adventurer Ben Saunders. In his own words he "specialises in dragging heavy things around cold places". He's one of only three people to have skied solo to The North Pole and he holds the record for the longest solo Arctic journey ever on foot. After traversing Russia and the frozen crust of the Arctic Ocean, his most recent adventure was to triumph where, a century before, Captain Scott and his men failed. Ben successfully retraced that ill-fated Terra Nov...more

  • Professor Dame Carol Black

    Feb 07 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Professor Dame Carol Black. She is Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge, and is a special adviser to the Department of Health and Public Health England. She is also Chair of the Board of the Nuffield Trust, the health policy think tank. She read History at Bristol University before beginning her medical career with encouragement from Dame Cecily Saunders, the founder of the hospice movement. She was Head of Rheumatology at London's Royal Free Hospital from 1989-19...more

  • Bill Gates

    Feb 04 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Bill Gates. He sat at his first computer while still at school in Seattle, wrote his first computer programme aged just 13 and went on to co-found the company Microsoft, becoming one of the key figures of the technological revolution. In 2000, he and his wife, Melinda, launched the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which has given to date over $34 billion to projects aimed at reducing health inequality around the world. Born into a professional family - his father wa...more

  • Sigrid Rausing

    Jan 24 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the philanthropist and publisher Sigrid Rausing. Founder of one of the UK's largest philanthropic foundations, her trust has given away around £230m to human rights causes since it began. Brought up in Sweden, she is currently the publisher of Granta Books and the editor of Granta Magazine and her work spotting and developing new writers stems from her lifelong love of literature. As the granddaughter of Ruben Rausing, who founded food packaging company Tetra Pak, s...more

  • Sir Anthony Seldon

    Jan 17 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the educationalist and writer, Sir Anthony Seldon. Now Vice-Chancellor of Buckingham University, he was the Master of Wellington College. He has written, co-written and edited more than 30 books, including political biographies of Prime Ministers Churchill, Blair, Brown and Cameron. He had to take his 'A' levels twice before going on to read PPE at Oxford and doing a PhD at the LSE, before embarking on his teaching career. His first headmaster job was at Brighton Col...more

  • Alex Crawford

    Jan 10 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the Sky TV news correspondent Alex Crawford. She's won the Royal Television Society's Journalist of the Year award an unprecedented four times - reporting from the world's worst war zones and hot spots. Where most people would do anything to stay well away from trouble she seems drawn to danger , whether it's covering the Ebola crisis in Liberia, hunting for Rhino poachers in South Africa or being first on the scene as the drama of Libya's revolution unfolded. She sp...more

  • Colm Toibin

    Jan 03 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the writer Colm Toibin. Best-known for his novels "Brooklyn" - now made into a film - "Nora Webster" and "The Master," he has been nominated for the Booker Prize three times. Born in 1955 in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, the second youngest of five children, Colm's life changed suddenly when his father died after a long illness when he was twelve. He says he has been dealing with the trauma which resulted in his writing ever since. After attending St Peter's College i...more

  • Patricia Greene

    Dec 27 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Patricia Greene. For nearly sixty years she has played the role of Jill in Radio 4's The Archers which celebrates its 65th anniversary on January 1st 2016. Over the decades the storylines have followed her character through one marriage, four children and since 2010, widowhood. Born in Derby in 1931, Paddy's love of acting began early on inspired by her father who was a keen amateur actor. As an only and independent child she was surrounded by the adult wor...more

  • Commander Chris Hadfield

    Dec 20 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Chris Hadfield. He was the first Canadian commander of the International Space Station and took part in three space missions spending a total of 166 days orbiting the Earth. He has spent over 14 hours doing two space walks. He flew his first eight day mission into space in 1995 during which he visited the Russian space station Mir. In 2001 he paid his first visit to the International Space Station to help install Canadarm2, a robot arm helping to build the station w...more

  • Kylie Minogue

    Dec 13 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Kylie Minogue. With seven number ones and ten million singles sold in the UK, she is the third-biggest selling female artist in Britain and has sold around 70 million records worldwide. Born in Melbourne in 1968, Kylie and her sister Dannii began their careers as child actors on Australian television. At 17, Kylie landed the role of Charlene Mitchell in the soap opera Neighbours and her on-screen wedding to Jason Donovan's character Scott Robinson was watched by twe...more

  • Atul Gawande

    Dec 06 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the surgeon, author and former Reith lecturer, Atul Gawande. A general and endocrine surgeon in Boston, he is professor in both the Department of Health Policy & Management at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Department of Surgery at Harvard Medical School. Born in Brooklyn, he is the son of two doctors who came to the US to study medicine. After graduating from Stanford and studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, he embarked on a brief poli...more

  • Sandi Toksvig

    Nov 29 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Sandi Toksvig. Host of BBC Radio 4's News Quiz until June 2015, she is also a writer and comedian and recently entered the world of politics, helping to found the Women's Equality Party. Her parents were both broadcasters: her mother worked as a studio manager and announcer before she married, her Danish father's job as a foreign correspondent took the family around the world. Sandi and her siblings spent much of their childhood in the United States and whe...more

  • Gurinder Chadha

    Nov 22 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is filmmaker Gurinder Chadha. Writer, director and producer behind the films Bend it like Beckham, Bhaji on the Beach and Bride and Prejudice, she began her career as a BBC news reporter. She was born in Kenya to Sikh parents and grew up in Southall in West London. Her political awakening came in her teens in the 1970s against the backdrop of the National Front and race riots in the capital. The bands she listened to, including the Clash, the Jam and the Specials, were ...more

  • Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon

    Nov 15 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the Right Honourable Nicola Sturgeon, MSP. Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the fifth First Minister of Scotland in the devolved era, she is the first woman to hold either post. The eldest of two daughters, she was brought up in Irvine and attended the local Dreghorn Primary School. A studious child, she was encouraged in her interest in current affairs by a teacher and joined the SNP aged 16. At 21, she was the youngest candidate in the 1992 General El...more

  • Lord Indarjit Singh

    Nov 13 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the broadcaster and religious leader, Lord Indarjit Singh. Creator of The Sikh Messenger newspaper and co-founder of the Inter Faith Network he also has the distinction of being the first member of the House of Lords to wear a turban. He was appointed as a crossbench life peer in 2011. He has contributed to Radio 4's Thought for the Day from a Sikh perspective for more than thirty years and arrived in Britain in 1933. He began his career as a mining engineer and in l...more

  • Marjorie Wallace

    Nov 01 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the mental health campaigner and Chief Executive of SANE, Marjorie Wallace. After leaving University College London with a psychology and philosophy degree, her first job in the media was working on The Frost Programme with David Frost. She went on to produce religious programmes and became a current affairs reporter and director for the BBC. She joined the Sunday Times Insight team as an investigative journalist and wrote a series of articles highlighting the financi...more

  • Keith Richards

    Oct 25 2015

    Keith Richards, member of the Rolling Stones, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs. Keith was born in Dartford and grew up as an only child. He and Mick Jagger went to the same primary school, but then lost touch until meeting again at Dartford train station in 1961 and discovering they shared a taste in blues music. Keith picked up his love of the guitar from his grandfather and honed his skills whilst at art college. If one single, living person could be said to personify r...more

  • Professor Sue Black

    Oct 18 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Professor Sue Black. She is Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology at the University of Dundee, founder and past President of the British Association for Human Identification and heads the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification in Dundee. Brought up on the west coast of Scotland and in Inverness, she fell in love with biology at secondary school and read Human Anatomy at the University of Aberdeen. After graduation she worked at London's St Thomas' Hospi...more

  • Lemn Sissay

    Oct 14 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Lemn Sissay. As a poet, writer and playwright, much of his work tells the story of his search for his birth parents. Born to a young Ethiopian woman who wanted him temporarily fostered while she completed her studies, he was with a family until he was 12. He would spend the next five years in a number of children's homes where he began to write. On leaving care at 17, he self-published his first book of poetry while on the dole. Several poetry collections,...more

  • Alison Balsom

    Oct 04 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the musician, Alison Balsom. Widely considered the finest classical trumpet player of her generation, she's performed in all the great concert halls of the world, winning a huge amount of fans and a string of awards for her ability to exquisitely convey the many voices of her chosen instrument. As a child she had dreams of being a part-time trumpet player, astronaut and jockey - she's only 36 so there's time yet for the other two; but whilst she is solely d...more

  • Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran

    Sep 27 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaways this week are the comedy writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran. They've been at the rock-face, mining for laughs, for over 40 years and they've given us plenty of gems ... amongst them monologues in the '70s for Frankie Howerd, the era-defining character Alan B'Stard MP, star of The New Statesman, and now the successful revival of their long running and much loved sitcom "Birds of a Feather". Grammar school boys from North London they first met as ten year olds at a y...more

  • Dame Judi Dench

    Sep 20 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Dame Judi Dench. Born into a family with dramatic leanings, she followed one of her older brothers, Jeffery, to drama school. Having abandoned ideas of becoming a set designer, she made her professional debut as Ophelia at the Old Vic in 1957. An illustrious stage career followed in Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet in 1960, in Cabaret in 1968 and as Lady Macbeth for Trevor Nunn in 1976. On TV she found huge success in sitcoms - appearing with her husband...more

  • Dr Bill Frankland

    Aug 09 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Dr Bill Frankland. Frequently referred to as the "grandfather of allergy", his achievements include the introduction of the pollen count to the British public and the prediction of increased levels of allergy to penicillin. Born in Cumbria in 1912, Dr Frankland turned 103 in March. He studied medicine at Oxford and worked at St Mary's hospital in Paddington, London, before war intervened. He signed up to the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), but spent over ...more

  • Ruth Rogers

    Aug 02 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the chef and restaurateur, Ruth Rogers. Born in America, she has become one of the UK's most celebrated cooks. Despite not being a trained chef, she set up The River Café with her business partner, the late Rose Gray, in 1987. The focus was on high quality, seasonal produce cooked the Italian way. Many of today's top chefs including Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Theo Randall, Sam Clark and Allegra McEvedy began their careers in their kitchen. The café was...more

  • Professor Monica Grady

    Jul 26 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Monica Grady, Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences at the Open University. Well-known in scientific circles, at NASA and the European Space Agency, she came to the attention of the general public with her enthusiastic celebration when, as part of the Rosetta project, the probe Philae became the first-ever spacecraft to land on a comet - 67P - in November 2014. The spacecraft had taken ten years to journey through space and a decade was spent on the preparations. ...more

  • Noel Gallagher

    Jul 19 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the musician, Noel Gallagher. He was the principal songwriter of the band Oasis - his younger brother, Liam was the lead singer. Born to Irish parents, as a child he spent his summers visiting his mother's family in rural County Mayo, in sharp contrast to the Manchester council estate where they lived. He taught himself to play the guitar and loved music: he was road manager for the Inspiral Carpets before joining Liam in Oasis. Their debut album in 1994 ma...more

  • Imtiaz Dharker

    Jul 12 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the poet and artist, Imtiaz Dharker. Winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for her work, her life seems a perfect reflection of the inter-relatedness of The Commonwealth. Born in Pakistan she was no more than a few months old when the family packed up their belongings and flew four thousand miles to start a new life - exchanging the blistering, dusty lanes of Lahore for the blustery, rain-slicked roads of Glasgow. Her father worked hard and, from scratch, built ...more

  • Freddie Flintoff

    Jul 05 2015

    Kirsty's castaway this week is the former England cricketer Andrew 'Freddie' Flintoff. One of the best players of his generation, he was part of the England team that won the Ashes in 2005, a year that marked his sporting coming of age. On the strength of that historic victory he was awarded an MBE for services to the game, and the public voted him BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Barely out of his pram when he picked up a cricket ball he turned out to bat for an under-14 match when he was ...more

  • Harry Rabinowitz

    Jun 28 2015

    Kirsty's castaway this week is the conductor and composer Harry Rabinowitz. His list of credits and collaborations read like a Who's Who of 20th century music - Gracie Fields, Charles Aznavour, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Matt Monro & Barbra Streisand are only a handful of the stellar names who've benefitted from his talents. He's conducted a lot of movie scores too, including Chariots of Fire and The Talented Mr Ripley; indeed the late director Anthony Minghella described him as "the UK's best kept s...more