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Desert Island Discs

Author: BBC Radio 4

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Eight tracks, a book and a luxury: what would you take to a desert island? Guests share the soundtrack of their lives.
300 Episodes
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Another chance to hear Monica Grady, Professor of Planetary and Space Sciences at the Open University, interviewed by Kirsty Young in July 2015.Well-known in scientific circles, at NASA and the European Space Agency, she came to the attention of the general public with her enthusiastic celebration when, as part of the Rosetta project, the probe Philae became the first-ever spacecraft to land on a comet - 67P - in November 2014. The spacecraft had taken ten years to journey through space and a decade was spent on the preparations.She was born in 1958 in Leeds as the eldest of eight children. She studied chemistry and geology at Durham University and did her PhD on carbon in meteorites at Cambridge, where she worked closely with Professor Colin Pillinger on the Beagle 2 project to Mars. She first worked at the OU in 1983 before joining the Department of Mineralogy of the Natural History Museum, becoming Head of the Meteorites and Cosmic Mineralogy Division. She is married to Professor Ian Wright who is one of the lead scientists on the Rosetta cometary mission and they have one son. She was awarded a CBE in 2012 for services to space sciences and asteroid (4731) was named "Monicagrady" in her honour.Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
One of the best players of his generation, he was part of the England team that won the Ashes in 2005, a year that marked his sporting coming of age. On the strength of that historic victory he was awarded an MBE for services to the game, and the public voted him BBC Sports Personality of the Year.Barely out of his pram when he picked up a cricket ball he turned out to bat for an under-14 match when he was just six years old. His debut was not in crisp cricket whites, but in a second hand Manchester United tracksuit, setting the tone for someone who's made a habit of doing things his way. Not least at a 10 Downing Street reception when, somewhat the worse for wear, he weaved into the cabinet room, plonked himself down in the PM's chair and knocked back yet another bottle of beer.Since retiring from the game he's had a go at heavyweight boxing and won the bout. One area where he hasn't come out on top: his sons never listen to his cricket coaching tips.Producer: Sarah Taylor
Jo Fairley, businesswoman

Jo Fairley, businesswoman

2019-08-1100:36:025

Jo Fairley is a businesswoman and writer. She co-founded the Green & Black’s chocolate company with Craig Sams, her husband, and has launched several other successful ventures since then.Jo did not enjoy school, left at 16 with six O-levels and learned shorthand and typing at a secretarial college. She got a job with a magazine publisher and worked her way up through the features department to become the UK’s youngest magazine editor at the age of 23.Her move into chocolate came when she happened to try a couple of squares of a sample sitting on the desk of her future husband, Craig Sams, a health foods entrepreneur. Jo decided that it was the best she had ever tasted. She bought two tonnes of chocolate for £20,000, using all of the proceeds from the flat she had just sold. She and Craig launched Green & Black’s in 1991 and sold the company to Cadbury’s in 2005. BOOK CHOICE: Edible: An Illustrated Guide to the World's Food Plants by National GeographicLUXURY ITEM: Her own pillowCASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: I Wanna Be Like You by Louis PrimaPresenter: Lauren LaverneProducer: Sarah Taylor
Sir Tim Waterstone is the founder of the bookshop chain that bears his name. Born in May 1939, he was the youngest of three children. His father, who worked for a tea company all his life, served in the Royal Army Service Corps during the war, and so was absent when Tim was very young. Their relationship was difficult throughout his childhood. Tim was educated at boarding schools from the age of six, when his parents went to India for two and a half years. After studying English at Cambridge and a stint working in India, he joined Allied Breweries, moving to WH Smith in 1973. Eight years later he was fired and at this point he decided to open his own bookshop.The first Waterstone’s opened its doors in 1982 when Tim was 43. A further 86 bookshops opened within a decade. In 1993, he sold the company to his former employer, WH Smith. Five years later, he bought it back again as part of a newly formed group, HMV Media, but just three years after that, in 2001, he resigned as chairman. Since then he’s made several unsuccessful attempts to buy back the company which changed hands most recently in 2018.He recently celebrated his 80th birthday and lives in London with his third wife, the television director Rosie Alison. BOOK CHOICE: Oxford Book of English PoetryLUXURY ITEM: A Photo of his wifeCASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: The Dream of Gerontius by Edward ElgarPresenter: Lauren LaverneProducer: Cathy Drysdale
Dame Sally Davies is the outgoing Chief Medical Officer for England. She will take up her next post as Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, later this year. She was born in Birmingham in 1949 to academic parents - her father was an Anglican priest and theologian, her mother a scientist. She studied medicine at Manchester University and after two 'brutalising' years spent learning the job on the wards, she welcomed the opportunity to move to Madrid as a diplomat’s wife. However, she decided that she did not enjoy being - in her words - 'an appendage', and so she returned to medicine in the UK, starting in paediatrics and then moving to haematology, specialising in Sickle Cell Disease. Her first marriage didn’t last and her second ended in tragedy when her husband died of leukaemia within months of the wedding.After joining her first research scheme committee in the late 1980s, Sally widened her remit. She became Chief Scientific Adviser to the Health Secretary and, in 2011, Chief Medical Officer for England. Her achievements include creating the National Institute for Health Research, a body to oversee the funding of research in the NHS, and working tirelessly to raise awareness of the dangers of anti-microbial resistance. Sally holds 24 honorary degrees and is about to return to academia, taking up her post as the first woman Master of Trinity College in October 2019. She is married to Willem with whom she has two grown-up daughters.BOOK CHOICE: On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGeeLUXURY ITEM: Bubble bathCASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: The Trumpet Shall Sound, from Handel's MessiahPresenter: Lauren LaverneProducer: Cathy Drysdale
John Cooper Clarke, poet

John Cooper Clarke, poet

2019-07-2100:44:2021

John Cooper Clarke first achieved fame with his poetry during the punk rock era of the late 1970s. Born in Salford in 1949 to Hilda and George, he suffered from tuberculosis as a child and was sent to recuperate with a relative in Wales. He failed his 11 plus exam and was educated at a secondary modern school which he hated. However the one “rose in a garden of weeds” was his English teacher, Mr Malone, who instilled a love of poetry in John and his classmates. John had various odd jobs after leaving school at 15 and by his mid-20s, he was reciting his poetry in clubs around Manchester. His entry into the punk scene was helped, he says, by “already looking like a punk”, and despite some initially hostile receptions from audiences waiting for the Sex Pistols or the Buzzcocks, he acquired a cult status, going on to release five albums of his poetry set to music by former Joy Division producer Martin Hannett.By early 1980s, he was also in the grip of a heroin addiction which would see him write very little for over a decade. He cleaned up in the early 90s after marrying his second wife, Evie, and having a daughter, Stella. His star began to rise again in 2007 when one of his poems was used in an episode of The Sopranos and others were included on the GCSE syllabus, which led to collaborations with artists like Plan B and Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys.BOOK CHOICE: Against Nature by Joris-Karl HuysmansLUXURY ITEM: A boulder of opium twice the size of his headCASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: How Great Thou Art by Elvis PresleyPresenter: Lauren LaverneProducer: Cathy Drysdale
Marcus Wareing, chef

Marcus Wareing, chef

2019-07-1400:37:455

Marcus Wareing is a prize-winning chef, restaurateur, TV presenter and cookery book writer, who gained his first Michelin star at the age of just 26. He grew up in Southport, and by the age of 11 was helping out in his family’s fruit and vegetable business, which dominated his father’s life. Marcus assumed he would join the business, but his father told him to take a catering course instead, as the family firm had no future. When Marcus was 18, he moved to London to work at the Savoy. He loved the experience of life in a high-pressure professional kitchen and was quickly promoted. In 1993 he joined Gordon Ramsay at Aubergine, creating one of the most celebrated London restaurants of the time. He went on to launch a number of Michelin star-winning restaurants, often working with Gordon Ramsay and his company, before a much-publicized falling-out. Marcus now runs a group of restaurants in London, founded with his wife Jane, and since 2014 he has appeared as a judge and mentor on the TV series MasterChef: The Professionals. BOOK CHOICE: A Bear Grylls Survival GuideLUXURY ITEM: A knifeCASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: How Deep is Your Love by The Bee GeesPresenter: Lauren Laverne Producer: Sarah Taylor
Sue Biggs is the Director General of the Royal Horticultural Society. She’s been at the helm of the RHS since 2010 and during that time, its membership has grown to more than half a million people. The RHS is also renowned for its spectacular flower shows and garden festivals around the country, including Chelsea, Hampton Court, Chatsworth House and Tatton Park. Sue has had a lifelong love of gardening since her mum gave her a packet of seeds on her seventh birthday. She has enjoyed two very successful careers. Before her tenure at the RHS, she worked in the travel industry for 25 years, identifying new destinations for holidaymakers. She was the first woman to be appointed to the board of Kuoni Travel. In her current role, she strongly believes that horticultural work and expertise do not receive the wider respect they deserve. She was made a CBE in 2017 for her services to the environment and ornamental horticulture industries.BOOK CHOICE: The Book of JoyLUXURY ITEM: A bedCASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams Presenter: Lauren LaverneProducer: Sarah Taylor
Jared Diamond is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, although his interests and expertise range far wider, from physiology to ornithology, history to ecology and from anthropology to evolutionary biology. His 1997 book, Guns, Germs and Steel, asked why Eurasian civilizations prospered and conquered others. It won a Pulitzer Prize and has sold more than a million copies around the world. He was born in Boston in 1937 to a physician father and a mother who was a teacher and a concert pianist. She taught him to read when he was three and he also learned to play the piano and developed a love of languages. Thinking his professional life would be in science, he decided to focus on the humanities at school, including Latin and Greek. After graduating from Harvard, he moved to England to pursue a PhD in physiology at Cambridge and became an expert on salt absorption in the gall bladder. He returned to the USA, and then his travels took him to New Guinea where he developed a passionate interest in ornithology and a lifelong love of the island which he’s continued to visit for the past 50 years.He has learned 12 languages, speaking several of them fluently, and has published six books and hundreds of articles. His most recent book, Upheaval, examines how nations cope with crisis and change. Jared lives in Los Angeles with his wife Marie, a clinical psychologist. They have grown-up twin sons.BOOK CHOICE: The Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan DoyleLUXURY ITEM: Six cases of Scharzhofberger Kabinett, a Riesling wine from the Saar BasinCASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Bach’s Cantata 50: "Nun ist das Heil"Presenter: Lauren LaverneProducer: Cathy Drysdale
Emily Eavis is co-organiser of the Glastonbury Festival. Together with her husband and her father, she masterminds the booking of bands and oversees the setting up of what is the largest greenfield festival in the world. The site itself becomes the size of Oxford town centre once it’s built and rigged, and when tickets for 2019 went on sale, they sold out within 36 minutes.Born in 1979, she was a small child when her parents, Jean and Michael, were inspired to make the Glastonbury Festival an annual event, although she wasn’t keen on the yearly invasion of the family farm. By her late teens, however, she had changed her views. She left Worthy Farm to study to be a teacher at Goldsmiths College in London but when, at the end of her first year, her mother was diagnosed with cancer, Emily left and went home to help look after her and to help her father run that year’s festival. Emily never went back to university. Motivated by a visit to Haiti to look at Oxfam projects, she spent a few years in London putting on charity gigs, before returning home to work with her father running the festival. She married her husband, Nick Dewey, manager of The Chemical Brothers in 2009. The couple have three children and live on Worthy Farm.BOOK CHOICE: The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard KapuscinskiLUXURY: Carpenter’s tool set (so she can build her own veranda)CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go by Bob DylanPresenter: Lauren LaverneProducer: Cathy Drysdale
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Comments (65)

Joni Harris

Brilliant. Best episode on here by far...what a man.

Aug 20th
Reply

Rosalie Ajzensztejn

on fast speed

Aug 11th
Reply

Eazy C.

Love it :)

Aug 3rd
Reply

Natalie Ting

Liked her choice of music

Aug 2nd
Reply

Mark Vlahos

Love💟

Jul 28th
Reply

Jagdeep Thandi

2mpa

Jul 22nd
Reply

John Durcan

awesome

Jun 9th
Reply

Aiden Power

Enjoy the show. What a great idea/concept. The guest's are varied but always interesting as is the music they choose. Just listened to Charlie Brooker. In bed. A lazy Sunday morning with a cup of tea to hand. Now this is a modern form mindfulness in my eyes!🙏

Jun 2nd
Reply

Aiden Power

You are dead right Noel... the 90's were an amazing decade👍 . Thanks for providing part of the soundtrack 👏

Jun 1st
Reply

Anna Pelageya

Ppp

May 31st
Reply

TheIainDowieFanClub

Neither funny nor interesting. Second only to Phil Jupitus in the overrated awards.

May 27th
Reply

Danielle Gregory

He is such a delight - loved this episode x

May 25th
Reply

Jerry Merry

Lovely as her books.

May 22nd
Reply

Dave Phillips

Prof. Pinker, please see the motor flagellum of a bacterium as an example of an evolutionary wheel.

May 14th
Reply

Gabriel Csaba

I love how Tracey casually hits the EXACT note of Daft Punk's One More Time in the middle of her swimming pool anecdote.

Apr 14th
Reply

James Spain

yeah me too. emotional.

Feb 24th
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Reece Unwin

amazing selection of songs, some I really didn't expect from him. great insight

Feb 11th
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M. Sa'eed Masoet

found myself getting quite emotional at certain moments during this for some reason. great listen.

Feb 9th
Reply

joanna caston

What an exceptional woman. We need more just like her

Feb 9th
Reply

joanna caston

Did not enjoy this episode at all! Kristy, as ever did a superb job but it was like pulling teeth to engage Dame Zaha into conversation... Just no heart in her explanations of choices or decisions.. Harsh.

Feb 9th
Reply
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