I’m thinking of doing my own mock-up version of Desert Island Discs. For those of you who don’t know, there is a long-running radio show called –you’ve guessed it—Desert Island Discs. Each week a guest selects their favourite music along with a book and a luxury item to take with them to be stranded (I assume deliberately) on a desert island. It’s a fresh (even now after over 3000 episodes) way to interview celebrities of all kinds and find out what makes them tick.
A certain amount of belief needs to be suspended here as we are assuming a minimum level of survival comfort and apparently electricity on this desert island… Try not to worry about the details. (How did the stranded person get there? What if they need medication? A special diet? How long will they be there for? What furniture/food/shelter/clothing do they have? Are they alone? Where is the fresh water supply? What about a loo? Ignore all that.)
Just out of curiosity I Googled the show and it’s been running since 1942!! I was astonished. Hugely famous and influential people have guested on the show, here are just a few names to wow you:
Ivor Novello, Humphrey Lyttelton, Leslie Howard, Arthur Askey (at least twice), Wing Commander Guy Gibson, Claire Luce (who took the original part in Gay Divorce when it was a play, before Ginger Rogers made it her own in the movie, I based my first Dottie book, Night and Day on this version.) Michael Redgrave, Celia Johnson, Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger, Peter Ustinov, Ian Fleming, Alfred Hitchcock, and so many, many more. The castaways were not just British actors, musicians, Members of Parliament, war heroes and other popular names, but there were many, many others including US stars and notable figures: Tyrone Power, Count Basie, Blanche Thebom, Earl Hines, Paul Robeson, Dave Brubeck, (quite a few musicians, I notice), Paul Gallico, Regina Resnik, Tallulah Bankhead, Louis Armstrong, Andre Previn, and James Stewart.
James Stewart chose a piano as his luxury item. Actually most people seemed to choose notebooks and writing implements, or canvases and paints to take as their luxury item. Perhaps there is a sense in all of us that thinks that, given enough time, we’d get through all our routine basic duties or tasks and finally have a moment to do what we really want to do – be creative. Others wanted to take photos of their family, or their favourite tipple: plenty of good quality claret was requested!
It’s odd, isn’t it, discovering what is most important in our lives? If we know our loved ones—and the cat/goldfish/gerbil are safe, what else is important? If you’re going somewhere with no shops, businesses or commerce, do you need money? Or jewels? Or designer clothing?
Here are my own 8 choices of music. I should just say, I like most kinds of music, but some are dearer to me than others. I cheated by going for albums rather than individual tracks 😊.
- Corinne Bailey Ray’s album called ‘Corinne Bailey Ray’.
- Riverside’s ‘Out of Myself’.
- Nina Simone: ‘Feeling Good: The Very Best of Nina Simone’
- Handel: Messiah (this is a big compromise as I like different versions of this by different orchestras/choirs depending on the track…)
- Paul Weller’s ‘Modern Classics’.
- The Very Best Of Jimmy Somerville, Bronski Beat & The Communards (You can get a lot of extra mileage with ‘best of’ compilations, just a little tip for you, in case you’re ever in this situation.)
- Simply Red: ‘Men and Women’.
- Can I bring the whole set of ‘The Marriage of Figaro’? I don’t think I can choose just one track… It won’t take up much room, I promise. Oh, and the libretto so I can sing along – there’ll be no one around to scare with my voice.
And for my book—Again, to show just how times have changed, and also, to bend the rules a wee bit, I’ll take my Kindle eReader. Hahahahahaha! (charging point is assumed…)
Which means, my luxury item is going to have to be a bottomless tub of Options white hot chocolate too. Then I’d truly be happy.
Oh wait, I forgot my notebooks and pens. No, it’s okay, my Kindle has got my Evernote note-making app on it. Phew. For a moment I almost got out of the boat and went home again.
And that’s it. I suppose what I wanted to say really was, wow what a huge number of really special people were on Desert Island Discs. It’s no wonder it’s considered an institution. I would love to have spent half an hour talking to so many of those people, sadly no longer with us. If you want to know more, you can take a look on Wikipedia:
Or on the BBC’s page:
Who would you want to interview?
If you were the castaway, what items would you take with you? What music would you choose? It’s a dilemma!