Friday, 1 June 2012

BBC's Desert Island Discs

Desert Island Discs is an iconic BBC radio program that has lasted 70 years.  In 1941, freelance broadcaster Roy Plomley had the the idea for the program and pitched it to the BBC.  The BBC’s Head of Popular Record Programmes, Leslie Perowne supported the idea and preparation began for the first episode.   
That first Desert Island Discs was recorded in the BBC’s bomb-damaged Maida Vale studio January 27, 1942 and aired in the Forces Programme at 8pm two days later.   It was introduced to the listening public as "a programme in which a well-known person is asked the question, if you were to be cast away alone on a desert island, which eight gramophone records would you choose to have with you, assuming of course, that you had a gramophone and an inexhaustible supply of needles".  
Plomley’s first castaway was the popular Viennese comedian, actor and musician, Vic Oliver.  The first piece of music chosen by Vic Oliver, and therefore by any castaway, was Chopin’s Étude No.12 in C minor played by pianist Alfred Cortot.   During these war years, every BBC Radio show was scripted and Plomley and his guests would 'read' their conversations.   Eventually the programme included a choice of a luxury item and then book was to be chosen as well. 
Roy Plomley continued to present the programme until his death at 71 in May 1985.  He was replaced by Michael Parkinson who presented 96 programmes until March 13 1988. Then Sue Lawley became the presenter for the next 18 years during which she interviewed 750 people.  Lawley left Desert Island Discs in August 2006 and was replaced by journalist and broadcaster, Kirsty Young.
If my interpretation of the BBC site is correct 36 guests have chosen Van songs over the years.  Here's the list of chosen songs:
James Corden (12/3/2012)  -  Actor and Writer  -  Days Like These
Anna Scher (18/11/2011)  -  Theatre School founder  -  Brown Eyed Girl
Nick Park (19/12/2010)  -  Animator  - I Forgot That Love Existed

Maggie Aderin-Pocock (03/07/2010)  -  Cosmologist  -  Moondance

Mary Portas  -  Queen of Retail
Mary Portas (10/1/2010)  -  Retail expert - Queen of the Slipstream

Baroness Scotland (06/12/2009)  -Attorney General  -  Brown Eyed Girl
Harvey Goldsmith (05/7/2009)  -Impresario, Promoter  -  Domino

Whoopi Goldberg (10/5/2009)  -Comedian, Hollywood star  - Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile)
James Nesbitt (21/12/2008)  -  Television actor  -  The Way Young Lovers Do

Gloria Hunniford (24/12/2006)  -  Television presenter  -  Have I Told You Lately

Ian Rankin (16/7/2006)  -  Novelist -  Snow in San Anselmo

Chris Evans (06/11/2005)  -   Broadcaster  -Philosopher's Stone
Boris Johnson (30/10/2005)  -  Politician, Journalist  -  Brown Eyed Girl
Bernard Cornwell (18/04/2004) -  Historical fiction writer -  Madame George

Rory Bremner (20/04/2003)  -  Comedian, Impressionist -  Have I Told You ...
George Clooney (23/02/2003)  -  Hollywood film star  -  Moondance

John Malkovich (01/12/2002)  -  Actor, Director  -  When the Leaves Come ...
Suggs (19/05/2002)  -  Lead singer of Madness  -  Cleaning Windows
Betty Jackson (28/04/2002)  -  Fashion designer  -  Brown Eyed Girl

Ian McEwan (16/01/2000)  -  Novelist, Booker Prize winner  -  Real Real Gone

Rick Stein (01/08/1999)  -  TV chef, Restaurateur, writer  -  Coney Island
Chris Bonington (06/06/1999)  -  Mountaineer  -  Here Comes The Knight

Nicole Kidman (15/11/1998)  -  Hollywood film star  -Someone Like You                                                   
David Hempleman Adams (09/08/1998)  -  Explorer  -Moondance

Anthony Minghella (09/11/1997)  -  writer, director  -Here Comes The Knight

David Wynne (11/05/1997)  -  Sculptor  -  Madame George

Jennifer Saunders  (22/12/1996)  -  Comedian, Actor  -Moondance
Hugh Laurie (12/05/1996)  -  Actor, Comedian  -  Brown Eyed Girl
Maurice Saatchi (24/11/1995)  -  Businessman  -  Coney Island

Dr George Carey (07/05/1995)  -  Archbishop of Canterbury  -  Be Thou My Vision
Joan Baez (20/06/1993)  -  Activist, Singer, Songwriter  -  Madame George

Paul Smith (20/12/1992)  -  Fashion designer  -Queen of the Slipstream

Bob Geldof (06/09/1992)  -  Activist, Singer, Songwriter  -  In The Garden

Brian Keenan (23/12/1990)  -  Hostage, Writer  -Dweller On The Threshold 

Joan Armatrading (29/01/1989)  -  Singer, Songwriter  -  Madame George
John Conteh (01/03/1975)  -  Boxer  -  The Great Deception

Five people selected Brown Eyed GirlBrown Eyed Girl for goodness sake!  That frothy bit of nostalgic fun!  Could that really be the one song of Van Morrison's that they'd want to hear over and over again for who knows how long? Four each chose Madame George and Have I Told you Lately.  I loved John Conteh's choice of the obscure The Great Deception.  We've all been deceived at one time or another I guess.  Anyway, I've been listening to the DID podcasts which have contained some interesting insights into music and its role in people's lives.

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