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

  • 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

  • Jilly Cooper

    Jul 31 2016

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the writer Jilly Cooper. Her long writing career spans newspaper columns for the Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday, non-fiction books on class, marriage and animals in war and novels that sell in their millions. Her romances set in the late seventies - including 'Bella', 'Harriett', 'Imogen' and 'Prudence' - were followed by 'Riders' in 1985, the first of her Rutshire Chronicles. Set mainly in the Cotswolds, they are racy and raunchy page-turners exposing the scanda...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

  • Stephen Fry

    Jun 24 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Stephen Fry. Comedian, actor, writer, director, presenter & award-ceremony host - his list of accomplishments is long, varied and impressive. His younger years were troubled and with a propensity for stealing and lying, he was expelled from two schools and imprisoned for credit card fraud. The turning point came when he knuckled down and won a scholarship to Queens' College, Cambridge, where he read English and joined the Cambridge Footlights, becoming lif...more

  • Rebecca Adlington

    Jun 14 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Rebecca Adlington - Britain's most successful female swimmer. A multiple medal winner and record breaker she's packed a lot in at a young age, first grabbing the nation's attention by winning two golds at the Beijing Olympics and breaking a world record into the bargain. When she got back home she was granted the Freedom of Mansfield and the Mayor gave her a pair of golden shoes. The Queen opted for the more conventional approach, bestowing an OBE. She went...more

  • Lisa Jardine

    Jun 10 2015

    Professor Lisa Jardine, academic, biographer and public thinker, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs. Historian, biographer, public thinker, mathematician - her proclivities are wide ranging and well regarded with prize winning books on subjects as diverse as Sir Christopher Wren, Seventeenth century Holland, Erasmus and women in the time of Shakespeare. Her current day job is leading the Department of Renaissance Studies at University College London, she's also a prolific ...more

  • Pamela Rose

    May 31 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Pamela Rose. Now aged 97, she was a Bletchley Girl who spent her war years working in total secrecy, painstakingly indexing snippets of information that would prove vital to the the war effort. Alan Turing and his fellow cryptanalysts would eventually break the Enigma Code and it's said that this breakthrough shortened the war by two years. Born into a musical family, she first took to the stage at boarding school. Pamela's lifelong ambition to be an actress was inte...more

  • Jimmy Wales

    May 24 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the internet entrepreneur Jimmy Wales. He is best known as the co-founder of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia. He grew up in Huntsville, Alabama and was the eldest child of a grocery store manager and his wife who ran a primary school where Jimmy and his siblings were educated. After acquiring a degree in finance and working as a trader in Chicago, his first serious foray into the online world was with the web portal Bomis, before branching out with a project ca...more

  • Helen Browning

    May 17 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the farmer, and Chief Executive of the Soil Association, Helen Browning. Born and brought up on the farm in Wiltshire she runs today, she told her father she wanted to be a 'proper farmer' aged just 9. By the time she was 24 her father had passed the reins on to her and not long after, she made it entirely organic. Inspired by five of her great aunts who, after the First World War, began farming themselves, today she continues to run the family farm, her own meat bus...more

  • Sir Bradley Wiggins

    May 10 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the cyclist Sir Bradley Wiggins. Winner of four Olympic gold medals, six track World Championship gold medals and the first Briton to win the Tour de France, cycling is in his blood. His parents met through the sport - his Australian father was himself a professional, his British mother a keen follower. His father left the family when Bradley was still a toddler and it was his mum, Linda, who helped him pursue his dreams of being a champion cyclist. Inspired by Chris ...more

  • Paul Hollywood

    Mar 29 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Paul Hollywood. One of the UK's leading artisan bakers, he's a judge, together with Mary Berry, on BBC One's the Great British Bake Off. The programme enjoyed viewing figures of 15.6m for the 2014 final and has won two BAFTAS. Born and brought up in Wallasey in the Wirral, Paul studied sculpture at art school before joining his father's bakery business. He went on to work at the Chester Grosvenor, Cliveden and was head baker at The Dorchester. Following his...more

  • Pat Albeck

    Mar 22 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the designer Pat Albeck. Born in Hull, Pat went to art school there when she was 16. In 1950, she earned a place at The Royal College of Art to study textile design and moved to London. As Britain emerged from the austerity of the war years, Pat began her career designing bold and exciting fabrics for the fashionable dress design company of the time, Horrocks. In the 60 years that have followed, her designs have graced pottery, paper, furnishing fabrics as w...more

  • Robin Millar

    Mar 15 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the record producer, Robin Millar. One of the UK's most successful record producers with over 160 gold, silver and platinum discs, he has over forty-four number one records to his credit. His 1984 production of Sade's debut album, 'Diamond Life', was named one of the best ten albums of the last thirty years at the 2010 Brit Awards. He experienced problems with his eyesight from birth, especially in the dark, and had tunnel vision. Aged 16, a diagnosis of re...more

  • Bryan Stevenson

    Mar 08 2015

    Kirsty Young's guest this week 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...more

  • Julia Samuel

    Mar 01 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the psychotherapist, Julia Samuel. Counsellor for Paediatrics at London's St Mary's hospital, Paddington, she works with parents whose children have died and children who've experienced loss themselves. She is a Vice President of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, an Honorary Fellow of Imperial College and Founder Patron of The Child Bereavement Trust - now Child Bereavement UK. One of five children, she was born into the banking line...more

  • Jonas Kaufmann

    Feb 22 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the tenor, Jonas Kaufmann. Frequently referred to as one of the greatest singers of his generation, both his parents fled East Germany for Munich between the end of the war and the Berlin wall being erected. Jonas was brought up singing in choirs, playing the piano and listening to a range of classical music. When he was seven, he was enthralled by seeing his first opera - Madam Butterfly. He studied Maths at university, but soon changed to music and quickly...more

  • Mark Rylance

    Feb 15 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the actor, Mark Rylance. Born in Kent and brought up in America where his father was a teacher, Mark played Hamlet for the first time while he was still at school. Since then he has become particularly well known for his acclaimed and award-winning Shakespearean stage roles. He won an Olivier and a Tony award for his portrayal of Johnny 'Rooster' Byron in Jez Butterworth's 'Jerusalem' onstage in both Britain and the United States. He has also appeared in a n...more

  • Dan Pearson

    Feb 08 2015

    Kirsty Young's guest this week is the garden designer, Dan Pearson. His style is governed by a desire to create a sense of place and he is drawn to wild plants and gardens. Aged just five he discovered this passion, while building roof gardens for his collection of trolls and spent the summer watching the plant and animal life in a pond created by his father. He gave up A' levels in favour of apprenticeships at RHS Wisley and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew and then spent several years workin...more

  • Professor Angie Hobbs

    Feb 01 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Angie Hobbs, Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield - a role which has brought her to the attention of a large audience. Brought up in Surrey, she was the youngest of three children. Her older sister died when Angie was just 11 years old. To begin with, she did not flourish at school, but went on to earn a place at Cambridge where she gained a first class degree in Classics and subsequently a doctorate. A career in academia ...more

  • Professor Peter Piot

    Jan 25 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the Director of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Professor Peter Piot. As a microbiologist he is known for his research into viruses and into the public health aspects of sexually transmitted diseases, and, more recently, on the politics of AIDS and global health. Born in Leuven in Belgium, he studied medicine and in 1976, as a young researcher at the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, he was sent a blood sample of a Belgian nun living in what w...more

  • Julia Cleverdon

    Jan 18 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the campaigner, Dame Julia Cleverdon. As head of the charity, Business in the Community, she fine-tuned to perfection the art of persuasion. A phone call from her and many of the big beasts of the business world - the "pinstripes" she calls them - stride from their boardrooms intent on giving something back to society. Her energies and endeavours have powered countless corporate social responsibility programmes. In a life dedicated to public service, she ha...more

  • Jo Malone

    Jan 11 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the business woman, Jo Malone. If her name automatically conjures the citrusy scents of lime, basil and mandarin or spicy notes of amber and lavender then you're doubtless one of the customers who flock into the eponymous stores to buy the products that have made her a household name. Aged nine, she would grind sandlewood and strain juniper at the kitchen table. 17 years later fashionable London flocked to her little salon in Chelsea to be massaged with oil...more

  • Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell

    Jan 04 2015

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the scientist, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, who is best known for her work in the field of neuroscience and stroke research. She is now President and Vice-Chancellor of Manchester University. She claims that her decision to enrol at Queen Elizabeth College in London in the '70s was made not on the basis of their superior teaching on the function of living systems, but rather the institution's proximity to Kensington High Street. Anyway, she gained a first c...more

  • Ray Winstone

    Dec 28 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the actor Ray Winstone. Nil By Mouth, Sexy Beast, Vincent, The Sweeney - he's probably best known for totally authentic tough-guy, geezer-parts. But his work has more range and nuance, encompassing roles as varied as Henry VIII, Magwich in Great Expectations and the lead in Beowulf. Beyond the screen the man himself almost seems to come from a bygone era, when a fellow worth his salt always wore a dapper three piece suit and was handy with his fists. In his...more

  • The Most Reverend Justin Welby

    Dec 21 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway for Christmas week is The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby. Ordained as a priest in 1993, 19 years later he was appointed to lead the Anglican communion of over 77 million people spread across 167 countries. Hardly a front runner when the job vacancy came up he said that it would be "a joke" and "perfectly absurd" if he were appointed. His faith has brought him high office but when he 'found God' at university, it gave him something a good deal m...more

  • Sarah Millican

    Dec 14 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the comedian, Sarah Millican. Her every woman yet no-holds-barred style of comedy has brought her sell-out tours and several of her own highly successful TV series. Revelling in normality and drawing on the difficult, intimate and often excruciating moments of being human, she dares to say what most of us are thinking, only she's much funnier. A Geordie, born in South Shields, her dad was an engineer down the mines and her mum was a hairdresser. They encour...more

  • Julie Bentley

    Dec 07 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the Chief Executive of the Guide Association, Julie Bentley - or, more accurately, Girlguiding. The name change is surely a clue to the evolving nature of an organisation determined to be relevant and useful to girls in the 21st century. Indeed being relevant and useful is how Julie Bentley has spent her entire working life. From her early efforts at an HIV charity to running the Family Planning Association she says her passion lies with helping young people...more

  • Damian Lewis

    Nov 30 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the actor, Damian Lewis. As part of the wave of British talent that's crashed onto America's shores in recent years his impact has made a deep impression on the creative landscape. His role as Sergeant Brodie in Homeland saw him win both an Emmy and Golden Globe and along with Band of Brothers, The Forsyte Saga and a long list of other credits, he now ranks as one of our most well recognised and highly regarded performers. Things didn't always look so peach...more

  • Rt Hon Theresa May

    Nov 23 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the Right Honourable Theresa May MP - the longest serving Home Secretary in fifty years. For those who think her political lineage seems directly descended from the Iron Lady, Theresa May's metal has certainly been stress-tested in the past few weeks. She's apologised twice in parliament for having failed to appoint a suitable head to lead the historical child abuse inquiry; a minister in her department resigned, claiming working with her had been like "walking throug...more

  • John Agard

    Nov 16 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the poet John Agard. His work is studied widely in British schools. He was the BBC's first poet in residence and along with WH Auden and Philip Larkin, he's a recipient of The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. Born in Guyana he arrived here in the mid-1970s already playing with words like some people play with musical notes. If his style is often satirical, his subjects provide wincing realism - examining the scars of slavery or the historical myopia of a shar...more

  • Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown

    Nov 14 2014

    Kirsty Young's guest is former Royal Navy test pilot Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown - the programme's 3000th edition. The Fleet Air Arm's most decorated pilot, his life reads like a handbook in beating the odds. Landing on a flight deck is acknowledged as one of the most difficult things a pilot can do. Eric Brown has held the world record for the most flight deck landings - 2,407 - for over 65 years. He was one of only two men on his ship, HMS Audacity, to survive a German U-boat bombing. In a ...more

  • Wendy Dagworthy

    Nov 02 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the fashion designer, Professor Wendy Dagworthy. During her time as Head of Fashion at both Central St Martins and The Royal College of Art she has taught students who've gone on to great success - Stella McCartney, Erdem and Antonio Berardi among them. Her skill lies partly in understanding the significance of a well cut pattern or a nicely turned seam, but also the warp and weft of a notoriously fickle industry. At just 23, she was the toast of the catwal...more

  • Roger Graef

    Oct 26 2014

    Kirsty Young's guest is filmmaker and criminologist, Roger Graef. Pioneering in his chosen subjects and style, for the past fifty years he has shone a spotlight on hitherto hidden areas of society and influenced the entire genre of modern day documentary making. His films on key institutions like the Police have not just helped change attitudes but policy too. A New Yorker and Harvard graduate, he first came to Britain to study Shakespeare: his London debut as a theatre director was a Tennesse...more

  • Debbie Wiseman

    Oct 19 2014

    Kirsty Young interviews the composer Debbie Wiseman. Her work is wide ranging, but her talents are most often employed in crafting lyrical, melodic scores for film and TV. Her credits include Land Girls, Judge John Deed, Haunted and Father Brown. Now a visiting Professor at the Royal College of Music, her unlikely introduction to the piano came at the age of 8 when she found a bashed up old instrument sitting in the corner of a hotel dining room. Producer: Isabel Sargent.

  • Sir Roy Strong

    Oct 12 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the historian, gardener and diarist Sir Roy Strong. He stormed the establishment in the 1960s - a proto-meritocrat, in possession of a sharp mind, fizzing ambition and a brown velvet frock coat. An avowedly unhappy and clever child he turned first to history and then art for stimulation and solace, setting down a template for a working life that would lead him to be the youngest ever director of the National Portrait Gallery and, later, to run the The Victo...more

  • Sally Wainwright

    Oct 05 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the writer Sally Wainwright. TV is her chosen medium and Last Tango In Halifax, Happy Valley or Scott & Bailey are watched by millions of viewers. Her ear for dialogue and talent for story-telling place her among the cream of small screen dramatists: she majors in whip-smart phrasing and plot lines that twist the innards with their tension, but never strain plausibility. Her passion for every day drama was honed at her mother's knee: in the 60's and 70's as...more

  • Marin Alsop

    Sep 28 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the conductor, Marin Alsop. Music Director of both The Baltimore Symphony and The Sao Paulo State Symphony Orchestra, she is a maestro with a mission: music, she believes, is a powerful vehicle for social change. She had the good fortune to be brought up in "a household that exuded possibility" and was filled with music - both her parents played professionally. She took up the piano aged two, swapped to the violin at 6 and then aged 9, saw Leonard Bernstein...more

  • Steve McQueen

    Sep 21 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the artist and director Steve McQueen. These days his talents are well recognized - his art has won The Turner Prize and his most recent movie, "12 Years A Slave" scooped an Academy Award, a Bafta and a Golden Globe. He wasn't always as lauded: at school in West London he was "shoved to one side" in the belief that the best he could hope for was to earn a living as a manual labourer. Instead he portrays the extremes of what human beings put themselves and others throu...more

  • Malcolm Gladwell

    Aug 10 2014

    The writer Malcolm Gladwell is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs. Always concise, frequently counterintuitive and unexpectedly beguiling, his work orders the world in a way that gives fresh insights into human behaviour. He believes that a knowledge of people's backgrounds is necessary to understanding their success; his own achievements may presumably then be attributed, not just to his keen mind and polished prose, but also to his parents - an English mathematician and a Ja...more

  • Guy Garvey

    Aug 03 2014

    Guy Garvey, musician and frontman of Elbow, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert island Discs. Front man of the group "Elbow" his voice and lyrics have helped the band win pretty much every music prize going ... headlining Glastonbury too, and playing at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics. Yet his image is that of an everyday, low key, unassuming bloke ... except that he isn't, he's penning and performing songs filled with intimacy, optimism and lyricism, that strike a chord with ...more

  • Dame Wendy Hall

    Jul 27 2014

    Fellow of both the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society, Dame Wendy fought long and hard to prove that her type of web science was highly significant and here to stay. If algebraic topology and open hypermedia systems really aren't your thing, Dame Wendy is also in demand as a brilliant communicator on, what can seem to outsiders to be, impenetrable topics. Her parents were from humble beginnings and it was clear from the get-go that their first born had a budding flair for number...more

  • Doug Allan

    Jul 20 2014

    Doug Allan is Kirsty's castaway this week. He's spent thirty-five years capturing unique footage of animals in some of the most remote and least hospitable places on earth. If you've watched fuzzy little polar bear cubs frolic in the frozen wilderness or slick killer whales eerily circling their prey, the spellbinding footage is his. David Attenborough, a long- time collaborator describes his work, simply, as "extraordinary". A trained biologist he first made a living diving into the icy river...more

  • Anne Reid

    Jul 13 2014

    Actress Anne Reid is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs. For a long time the bedrock of Anne Reid's successful career seemed to be her perfectly nuanced portrayal of a variety of northern mums - what she calls "skirt and jumper roles". Her first major role was playing Valerie Tatlock in Coronation Street - her character's funeral was watched by millions. In 2003 the skirt and the jumper came off when she and Daniel Craig starred in the highly acclaimed movie The Mother, about ...more

  • Sir Michael Marmot

    Jul 06 2014

    Professor Sir Michael Marmot is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs. He's an epidemiologist who has spent his career studying what the key factors are in leading a long and healthy life and how your income and post code can affect your longevity. Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health and Director of the Institute of Health Equity at University College London, Sir Michael specialises in what are known as the social determinants of health: how where we are in the wealth and ...more

  • Lily Allen

    Jun 29 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the singer-songwriter Lily Allen. Less than a decade ago she dipped her toe in musical waters by releasing her demos on social media, this summer she's one of the headline acts at Glastonbury. It's 29 years since she first appeared at the festival; back then she was a new-born being carried through the crowd in swaddling. Indeed, she was as good as baptised at the font of celebrity culture - her dad, Keith, is an actor and writer, her mum, Alison, is an awar...more

  • Judy Murray

    Jun 22 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Judy Murray. A tennis coach since she was 17, she's the current British captain of the Fed Cup, the premier team competition in women's tennis, and was herself at one time ranked 8th in Britain - achievements worth celebrating. But what she's best known for is being the ultimate tennis mum. Both her sons have reached the top flight of the game - one as Wimbledon mixed doubles champion, the other becoming the first Brit to win the men's singles in 77 years. ...more

  • Raja Shehadeh

    Jun 15 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the Palestinian author and human rights activist, Raja Shehadeh. Born in Ramallah in the West Bank, his life and writing has been dominated by displacement, struggle and a search for justice. His father was murdered in 1985 and aside from chronicling the unhappy history of his family and his homeland, he's also co-founded the Palestinian human rights organisation Al-Haq - which monitors and documents violations by all sides in the Middle East conflict, publi...more

  • Tamara Rojo

    Jun 08 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the ballerina Tamara Rojo. On stage she is a principal dancer for the English National Ballet and when the curtain comes down she performs the role of the company's artistic director. World-renowned as a stunning, emotional and dramatic performer, it must surely be a very different set of characteristics she employs off stage, marshalling her company of dancers and propelling the organisation's creative journey. She was just five years old when, sheltering ...more

  • Biddy Baxter

    Jun 01 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the TV producer and former Blue Peter editor Biddy Baxter. In charge of Blue Peter for 23 highly successful years, she was responsible for the coveted Blue Peter badges, the multi-million pound charity fundraising appeals and a nationwide lust for something called sticky-backed plastic. Her masterstroke was getting the young audience involved; although the programme's weekly postbag of around seven thousand letters must have given her a few headaches. In s...more

  • Rene Redzepi

    May 25 2014

    Rene Redzepi, Danish chef, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs. His restaurant, Noma, in Copenhagen has been named 'best in the world' for a fourth time, and holds two Michelin stars. His cooking captures not just the essence of his homeland - using ingredients like reindeer tongue, sea buckthorn or fish scales - but also a strong flavour of 'now'. He believes traditional notions of luxury are outdated. A sense of 'time and place' are his kitchen's guiding principles. His ch...more

  • Alison Moyet

    May 18 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the singer, Alison Moyet. She's won three Brit awards, sold tens of millions in record sales and her career has spanned over 30 years. It all kicked off in 1981; just three months after forming her first band "Yazoo" she was on Top of The Pops performing her first hit. Given that remarkably smooth start it might be tempting to think her achievements have come easy - they haven't. She found growing up tough, had prolonged agoraphobia and depression and weight problem...more

  • Jack Dee

    May 11 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the comedian, Jack Dee. Comedian, actor and writer, his persona is that of the laconic miserabilist - his hit sit-com was called "Lead Balloon" and his autobiography entitled "Thanks For Nothing". That is only part of the picture: even though show business was in the family - his great grandparents were in music hall - his early working life ranged all over the place. From grafting in the kitchens of The Ritz to working in an artificial leg factory - at one ...more

  • Sir Andre Geim

    Mar 30 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Professor Sir Andre Geim. Born in the Soviet Union, his early years were spent in Sochi with his grandmother, a meteorologist. And it was perhaps her small weather station on the beach that sparked an early interest in science. As a student his intellect was rigorous but his timing was also spot on:"glasnost", the political movement that swept open the Iron Curtain, enabled him to travel and study throughout Europe, finally settling ...more

  • Dame Claire Bertschinger

    Mar 23 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the nurse & humanitarian Dame Claire Bertschinger. She's worked for The Red Cross in over a dozen countries including Sudan, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Liberia amid the sort of raw human suffering that most of us find - even on the TV - almost unbearable to witness. It was through Michael Buerk's landmark news reports of the Ethiopian famine 30 years ago that she first grabbed our attention. We saw her as a young nurse surrounded by thousands of sta...more

  • Murray Walker

    Mar 16 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the broadcaster Murray Walker His commentating career began in 1948 and he finally hung the lip mic at the end of 2001. His trousers-on-fire style of delivery brought excitement, emotion and fanatical obsession to Formula 1 - for many motor racing fans he was motorsport. He was a petrol-head before the term had even been coined; his father, one of the top motorbike racing champions of his day, ignited his son's life-long love of big noisy engines. He's talked Britis...more

  • Lord Richards of Herstmonceux

    Mar 09 2014

    Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, former Chief of the Defence Staff, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs. He was a soldier for 42 years, rising through the ranks to the very top becoming the principal military advisor to government. Shrewd, swashbuckling and outspoken, he is now retired from one of the most successful military careers of modern times: so illustrious he's been knighted twice. The campaigns he led in East Timor, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan are well documented an...more

  • Mairi Hedderwick

    Mar 02 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the author and illustrator Mairi Hedderwick. Her most famous creation is a little red-haired character called Katie Morag who - in wellies and a kilt - has skipped her way through fourteen books and a 26-part TV series. Katie lives on the imaginary Isle of Struay with her parents, siblings, cousins, granny and prize-winning sheep Alecina. Like her creator she relishes the rhythms and freedoms particular to life on a wee Scottish island. But that's where the ...more

  • Professor Hugh Montgomery

    Feb 23 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Professor Hugh Montgomery. His area of academic specialism is intensive care medicine and he's also known for his pioneering genetic research into the ACE fitness gene - which determines our capacity for either strength or endurance. In themselves significant achievements. But he is also, a children's author, an ultra-marathon runner and the current holder of the world record for playing piano underwater. At the age of only 15 he was also part of the dive t...more

  • Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean

    Feb 16 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaways this week are the ice skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. It's 30 years since they enthralled the world winning gold at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. So memorable, it was truly a "where were you when" moment: the answer for most of us seems to have been in front of the television as 24 million people tuned in to watch their purple chiffoned, passionate, pitch-perfect display. Their enduring partnership is the stuff of sporting legend - British, European, Wor...more

  • Dame Elish Angiolini

    Feb 09 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the lawyer Dame Elish Angiolini. The first woman to become both Scotland's Solicitor General and Lord Advocate she's currently principal of St Hugh's College Oxford. It's a long way from Govan where her father heaved bags of coal round the streets and there wasn't always money for the meter. She was the youngest of four and by her own admission being "gabby" was the only way she got heard. It's an early skill that seems to have served her pretty well - in t...more

  • Bob Harris

    Feb 02 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the broadcaster, Bob Harris. Known affectionately as Whispering Bob, he's rarely been off our air waves in the past 44 years. His big break came standing in for John Peel and he was so good that not long after he was given his own show on Radio 1. Throughout the seventies he also hosted the true music-fans' must see show, The Old Grey Whistle Test. His beard and tank top were almost as legendary as some of the guests - The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and J...more

  • Sir Ben Ainslie

    Jan 26 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the sailor Sir Ben Ainslie. Eleven times World and 9 times European Champion he's also the most successful sailor in Olympic history. As he crossed the finishing line at the London 2012 Games, winning his fourth gold, the crowd gave a rousing rendition of Rule Britannia: indeed he rules the waves with such a ruthless will to win it seems somewhat contradictory that on dry land he comes across as an unassuming bloke from Cornwall. He was eight when, in a du...more

  • Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin

    Jan 19 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin. The first black woman to be chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen and also to the Speaker of the House of Commons, she's also kept busy with her work in less rarefied surroundings - ministering to two churches in the east London borough of Hackney. It's all a long way from the crystal waters and swaying palms of her birthplace, Montego Bay, where brought up by her Auntie Pet she coped with poverty and separation from her mother....more

  • Nicola Benedetti

    Jan 12 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the violinist, Nicola Benedetti. She had her first violin lesson at the age of four, and by the age of eight, she was leading the National Children's Orchestra of Scotland. By the grand old age of ten she was boarding at the Yehudi Menuhin School and receiving lessons from the great man himself. Her big break came when she won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition - the first Scot to win it. Lucrative recording contracts followed together with a hectic progr...more

  • Ray Mears

    Jan 05 2014

    Kirsty Young's castaway is woodsman Ray Mears. A traveller to the world's remotest corners and a renowned expert in bushcraft, wild cooking and survival techniques, he's one of very few castaways who would genuinely relish the challenges of a desert island. Those of us not possessed of his spirit and skill can live vicariously through his exploits on TV and through his survival handbooks. Enlightening and entertaining the sofa-bound masses is only one strand on his hand whittled bow: he's also...more

  • Ant and Dec

    Dec 29 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaways are the TV presenters Ant & Dec - Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly. The kings of Saturday night prime time, their careers and firm friendship spans twenty-odd years beginning as child actors on Byker Grove and currently hosting Britain's Got Talent, I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and their eponymously named Saturday Night Take Away. Their specialty is what are known in the business as "shiny floor shows" - programmes that involve big budgets, big audiences and,...more

  • Miranda Hart

    Dec 22 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Miranda Hart. She writes and stars in the hit sitcom "Miranda" and has congaed her way to the top of TV comedy by exploiting the universal truth that awkwardness lies at the heart of the human condition. Slapstick and misunderstanding underpin her work along with the impression that she's just a really, jolly, lovely 'girl': her father was a naval commander and her mother has devoted much of her life to tending a glorious garden. Making her mark has been something of...more

  • Gillian Clarke

    Dec 15 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Gillian Clarke. Wales's National Poet, she has received the Queen's Gold Medal for her work. She writes about everything from dinosaurs to suicide, but the potency and power of nature is a recurring motif. Although she's recognised for her significant and distinguished contribution to her homeland's literature and culture, her verse has been translated into ten languages and she regularly receives fan mail from South America, Pakistan and most countries in between. ...more

  • Barbara Hulanicki

    Dec 08 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Barbara Hulanicki, designer and creator of Biba. Today her creativity spans fashion, illustration, interior design and architecture but it was the success of the label Biba that first made her name; launching a high street revolution with its opulent-looking but entirely affordable high fashion. According to Twiggy, "she changed fashion in England singlehandedly". A newspaper advert for a £3 pink gingham dress in 1963 kicked things off and by the seventies her London...more

  • Clare Balding

    Dec 01 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the broadcaster Clare Balding. The BBC TV coverage of London's 2012 Olympics was her triumph and much like Team GB she'd been in training for her big moment for quite a while. She's worked on five Olympic Games, four Paralympics, three Winter Olympics and a great deal of horse racing. It's on the turf that's she's most at home - her father was a champion racehorse trainer and for a number of years she herself was a leading amateur flat jockey. The first po...more

  • Rt Hon Ed Miliband

    Nov 24 2013

    Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, joins Kirsty Young to choose his Desert Island Discs. He's been in charge of his party for three years and was the youngest leader they'd ever elected. But that fact got somewhat lost in the drama that surrounded his coronation: famously, he stood against his brother, David. To say the younger brother's victory upset the political apple cart would be something of an understatement. Politics is in his pores. His mother was a human rights campai...more

  • Malorie Blackman

    Nov 17 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the writer Malorie Blackman. A prolific and multi-award winning author she 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 wiz, her first career was in computing. As a writer her books ...more

  • Alfred Brendel

    Nov 15 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the classical pianist, Alfred Brendel. A performer of world renown, his career spans seven decades, and he is particularly famous for his interpretations of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert and Liszt. An Austrian who's lived in the UK for many years, he was born in 1931 in what is now the Czech Republic. Although not from a musical family, he began playing the piano aged six and gave his first recital aged 17. Largely self-taught, in addition to his live performances, he's...more

  • Sir Ken Robinson

    Nov 03 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the educationalist Sir Ken Robinson. Creativity - how to nurture it, develop it and marshal its power - is his preoccupation. He believes that too many people have no sense of their true talents and passions, and his internationally renowned talks to teachers, business and government leaders argue that - contrary to popular myth - creativity and innovation can be developed in a deliberate and systematic way. What we need, he thinks, is a learning revolution. His own ...more

  • Professor Tanya Byron

    Oct 27 2013

    Professor Tanya Byron, clinical psychologist and TV presenter, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs. Tanya has spent the last twenty years in clinical practice, helping children, young people and families deal with some of the most difficult parts of life - depression, anxiety, aggression, self harming and drug addiction. She came to public prominence through her television work, books and advice columns and it would seem that she had the perfect background to cope with life ...more

  • Jeremy Hutchinson

    Oct 20 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the former barrister and member of The House of Lords, Jeremy Hutchinson.His life spans eleven decades of British history and he has spent much of it at the very centre of the action. Born during the First World War, he was brought up in the company of some of the greatest artists and writers of the day.In World War II, he escaped his bombed-out ship clinging to a life raft with Lord Mountbatten.At the Bar he played a central role in many of the seismic trial...more

  • Chris Packham

    Oct 13 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the naturalist, Chris Packham.TV presenter, filmmaker, writer, photographer, every bit of his work revolves around wildlife. If he's not busy telling us why we should love midges he's enthusing about the hearing capacity of a barn owl. His passion for animals is clear, what they think of him remains a little more uncertain; he's been attacked by a baboon, charged by lions and bitten by a puff adder.His obsession with the natural world began early when a predictable boy...more

  • Carolyn McCall

    Oct 06 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is businesswoman Carolyn McCall.Currently Chief Executive of easyJet, she's one of only three women in Britain in charge of a FTSE 100 company. Prior to that she ran the Guardian Media Group.An only child, she was brought up in Bangalore and Singapore. She spent a short time as a teacher in a comprehensive school and has also brought her wisdom to the boardroom table at Lloyds Bank, Tesco and New Look.In amongst the corporate strategizing she also managed to hav...more

  • Lee Mack

    Sep 29 2013

    Kirsty Young interviews the comedian Lee Mack. He writes and stars in the BBC One hit show "Not Going Out". His stand-up tours do great business and his lightening sharp comedy reflexes are also put to good use on a number of prime-time panel shows. His first ever performance was doing impressions for his school mates, but it took him more than ten years to pluck up the courage to step on stage. Leaving school with two O'levels and a cheeky grin, he had a stint as Red Rum's stable boy and a ba...more

  • Zadie Smith

    Sep 22 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the novelist and critic, Zadie Smith. First published at just twenty four her debut novel "White Teeth" garnered huge attention and praise. As a result she suffered the unnerving experience of doing her literary growing up in public. Yet in spite of the scrutiny she blossomed. In the 13 years since, her novels, essays and short stories have brought numerous literary prizes and critical praise. Born to a Jamaican mother and a British father she was brought u...more

  • Daniel Kahneman

    Aug 11 2013

    The psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who won the 2002 Nobel Prize for Economics, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs. 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...more

  • Eve Stewart

    Aug 04 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway is BAFTA award-winning production designer, Eve Stewart. Her big screen credits include Les Miserables, The King's Speech and Vera Drake and for TV The Hour, Upstairs Downstairs and Call The Midwife. Responsible for locations, scenery and all the props she is renowned for creating entirely convincing, cohesive worlds that capture a beguiling sense of time, place and spirit. Not even the requirement for nine tons of Scottish seaweed or noiseless rubber rosary beads will d...more

  • Mary Robinson

    Jul 28 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and ex-UN Commissioner for Human Rights. Her professional life has been defined by public service at the very highest level and she appears the epitome of the cool-headed pragmatist. And yet she is also something of an enigma: a committed Catholic who fought hard to legalise contraception and divorce; an elected head of state with both a noble bearing and a common touch. As a lawyer she lead from the front championing contr...more

  • Russell Brand

    Jul 21 2013

    Russell Brand, comedian & actor, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs. Actor, comic, writer, Russell Brand is a compelling cultural phenomenon who in 2006 was, in his own words, "plucked from a life of hard drugs and petty crime and rocketed into the snugly carcinogenic glare of celebrity." Along with an athletic wit and a florid turn of phrase he specialises in going too far - reckless acts of self-destruction and a degree of chaos seem to be his companions along life's wind...more

  • Val McDermid

    Jul 14 2013

    The writer, Val McDermid, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs. Crime fiction is Val's chosen genre and the millions of novels she sells examine and dissect the darkest recesses of human behaviour. Domestic violence, murder, abduction - it's difficult to imagine a subject she'd shy away from. She once described herself as "A mixture of hard bitten cynical hack and Pollyanna". Brought up in a secure home by parents who were very happily married, she was the first Scot from a s...more

  • Jane Somerville

    Jul 07 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the cardiologist Jane Somerville. Now an Emeritus Professor in her discipline at Imperial College London she's gained a worldwide reputation for her pioneering work on congenital heart disease. She began studying medicine in the early 1950s when only a very few women were admitted through the doors of medical school. Since then she's been responsible for ground-breaking advances in cardiovascular treatment and founded the World Congress of Paediatric Cardio...more

  • Steven Pinker

    Jun 30 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker. An author and Harvard professor he's been named by Time Magazine as one of the world's 100 most influential scientists and thinkers. The psychology of violence and where language comes from are just two of his specialist subjects. Bill Gates is officially a fan, the man who sends him hate mail related to his work on irregular verbs is not. It would seem that whenever he publishes yet another best-selling book controvers...more

  • Hugh Laurie

    Jun 23 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the actor, Hugh Laurie. If life were straightforward he'd be marooned on the island because of his achievements as an Olympic rower. But his early promise on the water was scuppered by a bout of glandular fever - so he's had to make do instead with life as a worldwide entertainment superstar. Very British comedy, very big budget movies, very successful syndicated TV drama - his 30 year career has taken him from A Little Bit of Fry & Laurie to a big bit of broadcastin...more

  • Alexandra Shulman

    Jun 16 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the editor of British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman. In spite of being in charge of one of our leading 'style bibles' for more than 20 years, her reputation is that of someone rather down to earth. She thinks designers cut clothes too small, refuses to let superstars have photo and copy approval and when she was first appointed editor, she'd never even been on a fashion shoot. During her tenure Vogue's circulation has increased. Her first job as editor was with ...more

  • Conrad Anker

    Jun 09 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the mountaineer Conrad Anker. Some of us choose a life in I.T. or event planning - Conrad Anker has opted to swing from a nylon stepladder 19,000 feet up a cliff with a dose of trench foot and a wedge of stale cheese for supper. It may seem an odd way to spend one's life but it's his way. One of the world's elite climbers he's credited with a long list of first time ascents. He's also summited Everest three times. During one renowned climb he discovered the...more

  • Sir Mervyn King

    Jun 02 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the out-going Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King. He has been in charge during a period of unprecedented global financial turmoil yet under his leadership the Bank of England has emerged as one of the world's most powerful central banks. He may have grown used to the pink tails coats and top hats of his attendants in Threadneedle Street but his background was far from privileged. His father worked on the railways and then became a teacher; his...more

  • Deborah Bull

    May 26 2013

    Kirsty Young's guest this week is the ballerina, writer and broadcaster Deborah Bull. The Royal Ballet, where she was a principal dancer for almost two decades owes a debt of gratitude to the Janice Sutton School of Dance in Skegness. It was there, aged 7, two floors above a fish and chip shop and a row of amusements arcades - and having practiced "good toes, bad toes" - that she knew precisely what she wanted to do with her life. After many years of success at the top of her profession, she s...more

  • Alice Walker

    May 19 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the Pulitzer Prize winning writer Alice Walker. Author, poet, feminist and activist, it was her novel The Color Purple that brought her worldwide attention and acclaim. The story of a poor black girl surviving in the deep American south, between the wars, it is a landmark work, disturbing and exhilarating in equal measure. If one subscribes to the idea that "art is a wound turned to light", then Alice Walker's early life proved crucial to her future creatio...more

  • Damien Hirst

    May 12 2013

    Kirsty Young's guest this week is the artist Damien Hirst. Life, death, desire, fear, beauty, horror - his creative preoccupations are standard fair; his art - using sharks, maggots, butterflies, glass, formaldehyde and even sometimes paint - is not. His best known works have become iconic symbols of contemporary culture and his exhibitions and auctions attract attention the way a carcass attracts flies. Growing up in Leeds his mother was something of an early artistic influence - she had dots...more

  • Sir Sydney Kentridge

    Mar 31 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Sir Sydney Kentridge QC. Widely regarded as a leading advocate of the 20th century, he continues to make his mark in the 21st; he recently appeared for the first time in the European Court of Justice and at the end of last year he spent the actual day of his 90th birthday working in the English Supreme Court. Born in South Africa, he was first called to the bar there at the end of the 1940s and played a leading role in some of the most significant political...more

  • Jasvinder Sanghera

    Mar 24 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the writer and campaigner Jasvinder Sanghera. She has counselled government and travelled widely advising on how to put a stop to forced marriage and so called honour violence. At 14, Jasvinder was shown a picture of the stranger thousands of miles away she was to marry and in the face of intimidation she fled her family, chose her own husbands and gained a first class degree. Her books have shone a piercing light on the veiled world of shame, brutality and...more

  • Julie Goodyear

    Mar 17 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the actress Julie Goodyear. For a quarter of a century her Coronation Street character Bet Lynch set the gold plated standard for big, brassy, back chatting blondes. Behind the bar of the Rovers Return her bosom swathed in leopard-print and her head piled high with platinum curls she was Manchester's answer to Mae West. Her MBE was awarded for her services to drama - and when she left the series in 1995, her departure pulled in 19 million viewers. Yet whate...more

  • David Almond

    Mar 10 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the writer David Almond. Most of his work is for children but the adults who populate the juries of heavyweight literary prizes really like it too. The accolades began with his first novel Skellig published in 1998 when he was 47; it won the mighty "Whitbread Children's" award and then many others besides. Ever since, he's been acclaimed for his ability to craft complex, philosophical narratives with strikingly down to earth characterisations. He grew up j...more

  • Rankin

    Mar 03 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the photographer Rankin. He started out doing fashion shoots and is very good at making pretty young things look even prettier. But his work and influence have spread well beyond the glossy pages of style bibles. From Congolese war widows to canoodling pensioners his skill is capturing a moment of spontaneous and often surprising truth. He should really been doing peoples' tax returns - he went to college to study accountancy - but his head was turned in his...more

  • Uta Frith

    Feb 24 2013

    Professor Uta Frith, developmental psychologist, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs. Uta Frith's groundbreaking work on autism has revolutionized our understanding of the condition; overturning the traditional, long-held belief that the root of the problems are social & emotional; discovering instead that autism is the result of physical differences in the brain. She arrived in Britain from Germany in the early 60s for a two-week course in English. Half a century later, and...more

  • Jonathan Agnew

    Feb 17 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew. Known simply as "Aggers" to the army of fans devoted to Test Match Special, his charm, knowledge and ready wit have gained him a place in the heart of anyone who loves the game. His own infatuation began as a young boy at boarding school and along with his talent and determination it took him all the way to the top of the sport. He played for Leicestershire and England. His transition from the crease to the commentary...more

  • Julie Burchill

    Feb 10 2013

    Kirsty Young's guest is the writer Julie Burchill. As a columnist and author she is a committed non-conformist - daring the world to take issue with her vociferous life and work and depending on whom you ask is either a 'Marxist critic' or 'a right wing columnist'. As a child she used to hide away when potential playmates came to call, at 17 she was writing for the NME and in the decades since she's plied her trade at The Times, The Guardian and The Daily Mail amongst others. She's also writte...more

  • Sir Terry Leahy

    Feb 03 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Sir Terry Leahy, the businessman and former CEO of Tesco. His first job with the company was as a teenager when he worked as a shelf-stacker, but he made his name transforming the supermarket from a lack-lustre brand into Britain's biggest retailer. His ascent to the very top was marked by a fundamental understanding of his customers' needs and a single minded determination, powered, he says, by a fear of failure. He says of himself, "I was a relatively shy guy fr...more

  • Aung San Suu Kyi

    Jan 27 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Aung San Suu Kyi. The programme was recorded on location in Naypyitaw, Burma in December 2012. Now Leader of Burma's opposition party, she has dedicated her life to fighting for human rights and democracy in her homeland. A figure of world renown, she is known in Burma as simply "The Lady" and her integrity, determination and grace have provided a beacon of hope to a nation oppressed and exploited by decades of brutal military dictatorship. President Obama s...more

  • Beryl Vertue

    Jan 20 2013

    TV producer Beryl Vertue is Kirsty Young's castaway on Desert Island Discs. In the famously fickle world of telly where last year's hero is this year's zero she has stood the test of time. Indeed in TV circles the noun "vertuosity" is defined as "the ability to make enormously successful sitcoms for British television and then sell the formats to the American market". The cast list of her working life is a who's who of quality broadcasting and includes Jack Lemmon, Galton & Simpson, Frankie Ho...more

  • Martin Carthy

    Jan 13 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Martin Carthy. A highly influential figure in the world of traditional music, about fifty years ago he was at the forefront of the English folk revival - inspiring not just his fellow countrymen, but Bob Dylan and Paul Simon too. Now he's part of a folk dynasty. His wife is the celebrated singer Norma Waterson and their daughter Eliza is as renowned for her fiddle playing, as she is her voice. Martin, on the other hand, was brought up in an atmosphere that...more

  • Sir Howard Stringer

    Jan 06 2013

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Sir Howard Stringer. Now Chairman of the Board and formerly CEO of Sony, he was surely the only Chief Executive who was a decorated Vietnam vet as he knelt before the Queen to be knighted. It gives you something of an idea of the breadth and height of his achievements. Born in Cardiff he went to 11 different schools before his 16th birthday and it clearly gave him restless feet. In the mid-sixties he headed to America where his first job was answering phone...more

  • Anya Hindmarch

    Dec 30 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the designer and businesswoman, Anya Hindmarch. Given her first handbag by her mother at 16, she knew that her future lay in fashion. At 18 she went to Florence to immerse herself in Italian style, and ended up deep in the world of Florentine leather, getting samples made up of a duffel bag she'd spotted. An initial run of 500 bags sold out. Fast forward 25 years and her eponymous fashion business is globally successful with her designs much sought after. S...more

  • Dawn French

    Dec 23 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Dawn French. Her career started back when dungarees were considered a legitimate fashion choice and she's built her reputation on borderline surreal skits and glowingly warm characterisations. Brought up in a forces family she had to move schools a lot and found making people laugh helped to make them her friends. Since then it's made her a household name and she may be moments away from becoming a 'national treasure'. Double act partner, sit-com star, ...more

  • Sister Wendy Beckett

    Dec 16 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the nun, writer and broadcaster Sister Wendy Beckett. For over 40 years she's lived the life of a hermit, rising every day at midnight to spend seven hours praying. Her home is a caravan in the grounds of a Carmelite Monastery where she spends her days in silence - speaking only once a day to the nun charged with delivering her daily food rations of skimmed milk, cold cooked vegetables and two rice crackers. Her self-imposed isolation has only been broken b...more

  • Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP

    Dec 09 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles. After flirting with Communism in his teens he joined the Conservative party and enjoyed a heady rise through local politics, heading up Bradford City Council in the 1990s. He tells Kirsty about his early life above a shop in Keighley, how Mrs Thatcher got him an interview to be a candidate for MP, and how a prolonged hug from David Cameron softened the blow of a disastrous appearance on...more

  • Dustin Hoffman

    Dec 02 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Dustin Hoffman. In spite of his Aunt Pearl telling him he wasn't good looking enough to be an actor for the past forty-five years he's been crafting landmark movie performances. He is that rare and apparently contradictory thing - a character actor and a superstar. The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, Lenny, All The President's Men, Marathon Man, Kramer v Kramer, Tootsie, Rain Man, Wag The Dog, and Last Chance Harvey are just a handful of the movies that contrib...more

  • Edmund de Waal

    Nov 25 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the artist and author, Edmund de Waal. His ceramics are on display in many of the world's major museums. They're delicate pots in shades of white and cream, informed he says by a great deal of thinking about literature. His written work has also won him several awards; his book "The Hare With Amber Eyes" traces the rich and dramatic story of his family's Russian Jewish heritage and the diaspora in Odessa, Paris, Vienna, and Tokyo. He says, "I make pots and I write. ...more

  • John Lloyd

    Nov 18 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the director, producer and writer, John Lloyd. His work has been making us laugh for over thirty years: Spitting Image, Not The Nine o'Clock News, Blackadder and QI are just a handful of the programmes he's helped to create. If the comedy work ever dries up he could open a shop selling second hand Baftas - he's won a stack of them and a Grammy and an Emmy. Which isn't to say it's been an easy ride - fall outs, multiple sackings and missed opportunities have...more

  • Blanche Marvin

    Nov 16 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the critic, actress, and producer Blanche Marvin. Blanche has been immersed in the theatre for seven decades. She worked with James Mason, Yul Brynner, Deborah Kerr and Peter Ustinov and calmed the nerves of Tennessee Williams. She brought Samuel Beckett to an American audience and persuaded Peter Brook to launch a series of awards to encourage artistic risk-takers. A doyenne of the West End, she's at nearly every opening night and her reviews are read by producers...more

  • Tidjane Thiam

    Nov 04 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is businessman Tidjane Thiam. He's chief executive of the Prudential, but he's about as far from the archetypal "man from the Pru" as you can get. The seeds of his success were sown amid the complex political terrain of the Ivory Coast with an extended family heavily involved in politics and a father imprisoned for his beliefs. His life quickly took on an international flavour from West Africa to Morocco, Paris to Washington, but in his early 30s a coup in his ...more

  • Hilary Devey

    Oct 28 2012

    Hilary Devey, businesswoman and TV star is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs. The very incarnation of entrepreneurial spirit, Hilary Devey built a haulage network business from scratch, which now employs nearly eight thousand people and has an annual turnover of £100 million. She has a successful media career and is one of the current incumbents of the TV programme Dragons Den. The real drama in her life has happened off screen. The skeleton in her parents' closet reappeared...more

  • Mona Siddiqui

    Oct 21 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the academic & commentator, Mona Siddiqui. Born in Karachi and brought up in Huddersfield, she's a rarity - a female Muslim theologian. As Professor of Islamic and Interreligious Studies at Edinburgh University her analysis regularly sheds light on controversial issues affecting the Muslim faith. Her calm & reasoned standpoint can be heard regularly on the Today programme's Thought for the Day. Brought up in a house stuffed full of books, her academic prom...more

  • Noah Stewart

    Oct 14 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the American opera singer, Noah Stewart. He's a hit in opera houses around the world and his solo CD has topped the classical charts. Yet for a long time the closest he managed to get to the stage was as a receptionist at Carnegie Hall. He won a scholarship to the prestigious Juilliard School in New York though while waiting for his big break, he waited tables and did voice overs for Sesame Street. Blessed not only with rich, clear tenor tones he also possesses the ...more

  • Celia Birtwell

    Oct 07 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the designer Celia Birtwell. In the ephemeral world of fashion she has endured; Marian Faithfull wore her creations in the 60s, Kate Moss is a fan today. Whimsical prints and flattering forms are her signature style and the vintage creations that she designed with her then husband Ossie Clarke now change hands for a small fortune. Her new ranges are highly collectable and fly off the high street rails too. Never one of the fashion world's flamboyant self p...more

  • Ade Adepitan

    Sep 30 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the Paralympian & broadcaster Ade Adepitan. Wheelchair basketball's his sport and this year he partnered Claire Balding anchoring the television coverage of the 2012 London Paralympics. 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. ...more

  • Goldie Hawn

    Sep 23 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway is Hollywood's prototype dizzy blond, Goldie Hawn. Like most things in Tinseltown the image is somewhat at odds with the reality. Goldie is an Academy Award winner and producer who's been on the A list for 40-odd years, starring alongside Peter Sellers, Walter Matthau and Woody Allen. She's now transmuted from fantasy pin-up to best selling author - she writes parenting manuals and spearheads a childhood learning initiative. She tells Kirsty about her journey from danci...more

  • Craig Brown

    Aug 12 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the critic and satirist Craig Brown. A prolific writer, he's lampooned everyone from DH Lawrence to Victoria Beckham and, earlier this year, he became the first journalist to win three separate prizes at the British Press Awards. He showed early promise - when he was 14 he started writing spoofs of Harold Pinter plays, and his characters have their own entries in Who's Who. Producer: Leanne Buckle.

  • Baroness Campbell

    Aug 05 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the campaigner Baroness Jane Campbell. She was born with a degenerative condition and her parents were told she would not survive infancy. Now in her mid-fifties and a cross-bench peer, she's spent her adult life campaigning for equality for disabled people and was one of the leading voices behind the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995. She recalls: "I found myself sitting in the middle of Westminster Bridge bringing the traffic to a standstill. The police didn'...more

  • Mary Berry

    Jul 29 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 is in no doubt of the importance of teaching cookery in school "When everybody leaves...more

  • Akram Khan

    Jul 22 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the dancer and choreographer Akram Khan. A child of Bengali immigrants, he started learning Indian dance almost as soon as he could walk. Talent-spotted in his teens, he went on to spend two years touring the world with Peter Brook's Mahabharata. A keen collaborator, he's worked with everyone from prima ballerina Sylvie Guillem to disco queen Kylie Minogue. He says he was a shy boy and dance allowed him to communicate properly for the first time: "It was like being ...more

  • Simon McBurney

    Jul 15 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the actor, writer and director Simon McBurney. It's 30 years since he set up the ground-breaking theatre company Complicite. It brought extraordinary physical deftness to the stage and its productions won every plaudit going - from an armful of Olivier awards to the Perrier prize for comedy. His mainstream credits range from TV roles in the Vicar of Dibley and Rev, to screen credits for The Last King of Scotland and Harry Potter. On stage, he's directed Katie Holme...more

  • Martina Navratilova

    Jul 08 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the legendary tennis player, Martina Navratilova. In an extraordinary career she's won 59 Grand Slam titles - her last just a few weeks short of her fiftieth birthday. Her life off the court has been equally eventful - she grew up in communist Czechoslovakia and, as a teenager, threw rocks as Soviet tanks rolled in; tennis offered a way to see the world and she defected to the US when she was 18 years old. After thirty years at the top of her profession she retired -...more

  • Charles Jencks

    Jul 01 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the architectural critic and writer Charles Jencks. Born in America, for the past four decades he has lived and worked in Britain - where his designs are as likely to be found in sculptural landscapes as buildings. Perhaps his most significant legacy, though, is the work he did with his late wife, Maggie Keswick. They worked together to design Maggie's Centres - a series of practical and beautifully-designed buildings to give information and support to people with can...more

  • John Bishop

    Jun 24 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the comedian John Bishop. Growing up on a Merseyside council estate, his early ambition was to play football for Liverpool - otherwise, he thought he might find a way out by winning the Pools or joining a band. The youngest of four children, his family were, he says, the kind that filled factory floors rather than lecture halls. Now a hugely popular stand-up comedian, it was a failing marriage and a sense of desperation that led him, one night, to a comedy bar. He dec...more

  • Ahdaf Soueif

    Jun 17 2012

    Kirsty Young's castaway is the Egyptian writer and commentator Ahdaf Soueif. She was the first Muslim woman to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize and, from an early age, her life has been divided between Egypt and Britain. She was among the crowds in Tahrir Square last year, witnessing the uprising at first hand, and describing events for the world's media. She says: "Every once in a while there would be a surge of a few meters forward, as your friends, who were being killed at the front, ga...more

  • Henry Blofeld

    Nov 30 2003

    This week Sue Lawley's castaway is the cricket commentator Henry Blofeld. Blofeld's become known as much for his musings on pigeons, planes, double decker buses, tea ladies, cakes and his catchphrase 'my dear old thing' as he is for his cricket commentary. As a teenager he showed great promise as a cricketer and was even thought good enough to play for England until his dreams were dashed after a serious accident when his bike hit a bus. He dropped out of Cambridge and toyed with the idea of a...more

  • Colin Montgomerie

    Mar 12 2000

    Sue Lawley's guest this week is Colin Montgomerie. One of the biggest earners in the history of golf, he's ranked number three in the world. Despite having a natural talent for the game, he'd never expected to play it professionally. Having applied for a job with a sports management company, his interview took place on the golf course. He played so well that the company persuaded him to become one of their stars. [Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Is...more

  • Kenneth Williams

    Jul 26 1987

    The castaway this week is Kenneth Williams who, for 40 years, has occupied a unique place on stage, screen and radio. In conversation with Michael Parkinson, he recalls his long career which has ranged from working on radio classics like Hancock's Half Hour and Round the Horne to being a regular member of the cast in the Carry On films. [Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs] Favourite track: 1st Movement from Spring Sonata by Ludwig van Bee...more

  • Lauren Bacall

    Mar 03 1979

    Roy Plomley's castaway is actress Lauren Bacall. Favourite track: My Mistress' Eyes (Sonnet 130) by William Shakespeare Book: Collected Short Stories by John Cheever Luxury: Sun tan lotion

  • Jacqueline Du Pre

    Mar 19 1977

    Roy Plomley's castaway is cellist Jacqueline Du Pré. Favourite track: Piano Quintet In A Major by Franz Schubert Book: Thesaurus by Roget Luxury: Pencils and paper