Episodes

  • Kate Ewart-Biggs is the deputy chief executive of the British Council, which aims to build connections between the UK and countries worldwide, through education programmes, language learning and cultural activities.

    Kate was born into a diplomatic family and her early childhood years were spent in France and Belgium. In 1976, when she was eight years old, her father Christopher Ewart-Biggs was appointed British ambassador to Ireland. Two weeks into his new job, he was killed by an IRA landmine. Kate's mother Jane moved the family back to London and began to campaign for peace and reconciliation in Ireland: she became a life peer in 1981.

    After studying anthropology at university, Kate worked on charity projects for street children in Brazil and South Africa before joining the British Council. Her career has taken her all around the world including postings in Uganda, Tanzania and Indonesia.

    She lives in London with her daughter.

    DISC ONE: I Could Have Danced All Night by My Fair Lady Orchestra, My Fair Lady Chorus, Marni Nixon (soprano), André Previn (conductor), Mona Washbourne (played Mrs. Pearce), My Fair Lady Original Motion Picture Cast and Warner Brothers Studio Orchestra
    DISC TWO: Et Si Tu N’existais Pas by Joe Dassin
    DISC THREE: Mr Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan
    DISC FOUR: I Don’t Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats
    DISC FIVE: Lambada by Kaoma
    DISC SIX: Namagembe by Madoxx Sematimba
    DISC SEVEN: I And Love And You by The Avett Brothers
    DISC EIGHT: American Pie by Don McLean

    BOOK CHOICE: The Complete Novels of Jane Austen
    LUXURY ITEM: An asthma inhaler
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Mr. Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

  • Andrew Ramroop is a Savile Row tailor, whose international client list has included film stars and royalty.

    Andrew grew up in a remote village in Trinidad and sewed his first garment at the age of nine, creating a simple pair of trousers from a pillowcase. He left school at 13 and was apprenticed to a local tailor who told him tales about the pinnacle of sartorial excellence, Savile Row – the place where James Bond’s suits were cut.

    Inspired by this vision, Andrew saved up for a ticket to sail to the UK: he emigrated at the age of 17, only the second person to leave his village. He found work on Savile Row, went on to complete a degree at the London College of Fashion, and then gained a job at Maurice Sedwell, eventually taking over the business when Maurice retired.

    In recent years, Andrew has been closely involved in training the next generation of tailors. He was awarded an OBE in 2009, for his work in tailoring and training, and was the UK’s Black Business Person of the Year in 2017.

    DISC ONE: Portrait of Trinidad by The Mighty Sniper
    DISC TWO: Another Brick In The Wall, Pt. 2 by Pink Floyd
    DISC THREE: Time Will Tell by Jimmy Cliff
    DISC FOUR: The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel
    DISC FIVE: It's a Man's Man's Man's World by James Brown & The Famous Flames
    DISC SIX: Desiderata by Les Crane
    DISC SEVEN: Maria La O by Neil Latchman
    DISC EIGHT: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel

    BOOK CHOICE: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
    LUXURY ITEM: A tenor steel pan drum
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

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  • Adele is a singer and songwriter who has achieved record-breaking sales and global recognition for her four albums which document her life from the age of 19 onwards. Her cache of awards includes 15 Grammys and nine BRITs. She also won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for the James Bond theme Skyfall which she co-wrote.

    She was born Adele Laurie Blue Adkins in London in 1988. In 2002 she won a place at the BRIT School for Performing Arts where she studied music and developed her performing and song writing skills. In her final year a friend posted her three-song demo online which attracted the attention of several record companies.

    In 2006 Adele signed to XL Recordings and the following year she released her first single, Hometown Glory. In 2008 she released her debut album, 19, and the following year she won Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

    Her next two albums 21 and 25 consolidated her superstar status. In 2013 she was appointed an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to music. Adele’s fourth album, 30, was released in 2021. The songs addressed how she was adjusting to life post-divorce and her feelings about her new role as a co-parent.

    Adele lives in Los Angeles with her son.

    DISC ONE: Roam by The B-52's
    DISC TWO: Dreams by Gabrielle
    DISC THREE: Need Somebody by Shola Ama
    DISC FOUR: He Needs Me by Nina Simone
    DISC FIVE: Bills Bills Bills by Destiny’s Child
    DISC SIX: I’d Rather Go Blind by Etta James
    DISC SEVEN: Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs
    DISC EIGHT: For All We Know by Donny Hathaway

    BOOK CHOICE: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur
    LUXURY ITEM: A self-inflating mattress
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Dreams by Gabrielle

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • Bono is a singer, songwriter and the frontman of U2, one of the most recognisable and successful bands in music history. They have sold over 170 million albums, won 22 Grammys – more than any other band – and two Golden Globe Awards. Bono is also known for his work as an activist, especially in Africa where he has played a prominent role in campaigns which tackle poverty and HIV/AIDs.

    Bono was born Paul Hewson in Dublin in 1960. A schoolfriend named him Bono after a hearing aid shop in Dublin called Bono Vox, and the name stuck. When he was 16, Bono saw a poster on his school noticeboard posted by Larry Mullen Jr asking for people to form a rock band. He responded with enthusiasm and before long was rehearsing with his future bandmates Larry, who played the drums, guitarist the Edge and bassist Adam Clayton.

    The band’s debut album Boy came out in 1980 and five years later they made an impact at the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium when Bono disappeared from the stage for two minutes to get up close to the audience. One newspaper later described this incident as one of the 50 key events in rock history. U2's subsequent albums, including the Joshua Tree, Rattle and Hum and Achtung Baby, cemented their status as global superstars, filling arenas around the world.

    In 2004 Bono co-founded One, an international campaigning organisation which was set up with the aim of ending extreme poverty and preventable disease by 2030.

    Bono met his future wife, Ali, at school when they were both teenagers. They married in 1982 and have four children.

    DISC ONE: Show Me The Way by Peter Frampton
    DISC TWO: Every Grain Of Sand by Bob Dylan
    DISC THREE: Abide With Me by Emeli Sande and The Fron Choir
    DISC FOUR: Dead In The Water (Live At RTÉ 2FM Studios, Dublin) by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
    DISC FIVE: Ice Cream Sundae by Inhaler
    DISC SIX: Agolo by Angelique Kidjo
    DISC SEVEN: Verdi: La traviata Prelude to Act 1, composed by Giuseppe Verdi and performed by Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, conducted by James Levine
    DISC EIGHT: Someone Somewhere in Summertime by Simple Minds

    BOOK CHOICE: Ulysses by James Joyce
    LUXURY ITEM: A Spanish guitar
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Every Grain Of Sand by Bob Dylan

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • Rita Tushingham first won international acclaim as a teenager, playing Jo in the film A Taste of Honey. Her performance in this 1961 kitchen sink drama earned her a BAFTA, a Golden Globe and the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival. She starting shooting the film on her 19th birthday.

    She went on to play roles in the Leather Boys, the Knack… and How to Get it and Doctor Zhivago. Now 80, she continues to perform and recently appeared in two BBC television drama series - Ridley Road and The Responder - and in the film Last Night in Soho.

    Rita was born in Liverpool and at 16 joined the Liverpool Repertory Company as a student assistant stage manager. Her first role was as the back legs of a horse in Toad of Toad Hall. In 1960 she responded to a newspaper article which invited ‘ugly’ unknown girls to apply for the part of Jo in a film adaptation of Shelagh Delaney's play A Taste of Honey, to be directed by Tony Richardson. The film challenged many taboos of the time, including teenage pregnancy and interracial relationships.

    After the British film industry went into decline in the 1970s Rita started working in Europe. In 1988 she went back to her roots and played Celia Higgins in Carla Lane’s Liverpool sitcom, Bread. Rita lives in London and is a passionate supporter of Liverpool Football Club.

    DISC ONE: You’ll Never Walk Alone by Gerry & the Pacemakers
    DISC TWO: Tutti Frutti by Little Richard
    DISC THREE: Penny Lane by The Beatles
    DISC FOUR: Every Time We Say Goodbye by Ella Fitzgerald
    DISC FIVE: The pas de deux from the second act of Giselle, performed by The Pro Arte Orchestra, conducted by Marcus Dods
    DISC SIX: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel
    DISC SEVEN: An extract from I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue - Potted Plots, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 22nd May 2006
    DISC EIGHT: Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley

    BOOK CHOICE: Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable
    LUXURY ITEM: A photograph album
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Paula McGinley

  • Frances O’Grady is the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the UK's umbrella group for unions, representing millions of workers. She is the first woman in the 154 year history of the TUC to hold this post, which she took up in 2013.

    Frances is the youngest of five children, and was brought up in Oxford. Her family has strong links with the trade union movement: her great grandfather and grandfather were founder members of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, and her father was a shop steward at the British Leyland plant in Cowley.

    Thanks to strong encouragement from one of her teachers, Frances was the first of her family to go to university, studying History and Politics at Manchester. After graduation, she moved to London and worked in shops and the hospitality industry, becoming a union rep before getting a job at the Transport and General Workers Union. She joined the TUC in 1994 as Campaigns Secretary, became Deputy General Secretary in 2003 and General Secretary a decade later. In 2020, during the pandemic, she worked with the government on the furlough scheme, providing support for workers whose usual employment.

    In April 2022, she announced that she would step down from her post at the end of this year.

    DISC ONE: It’s Not Unusual by Tom Jones
    DISC TWO: Burn It Down by Dexys Midnight Runners
    DISC THREE: Double Barrel by Dave & Ansell Collins
    DISC FOUR: Atmosphere by Joy Division
    DISC FIVE: Funkin' for Jamaica by Tom Browne
    DISC SIX: Hello Stranger by Barbara Lewis
    DISC SEVEN: Pieces of a Man by Gil Scott-Heron
    DISC EIGHT: A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke

    BOOK CHOICE: History by Elsa Morante
    LUXURY ITEM: A painting set with edible paints
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Double Barrel by Dave & Ansell Collins

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

  • Jon Ronson is a writer and broadcaster whose award-winning podcast and Radio 4 series Things Fell Apart investigated the stories behind today’s culture wars. His television programmes and books – from Them: Adventures with Extremists to So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed - explore what he calls “the worlds that are going on underground” and his subjects - from conspiracy theorists to internet trolls - inhabit the fringes of society.

    Jon was born in Cardiff in 1967. He started a media studies degree at the Polytechnic of Central London but left after two years to become the keyboard player for the musician and comedian Frank Sidebottom’s Oh Blimey Big Band. He also managed the Manchester indie band Man from Delmonte.

    He worked as a presenter on KFM Radio with Terry Christian, Caroline Aherne and Craig Cash before moving back to London where he wrote for the listings magazine Time Out and later produced a weekly column about family life for the Guardian.

    In 1993 he began his television career with a BBC series called the Ronson Mission which he describes as having little adventures and interviewing people who were classed as outsiders by the mainstream. He went on to make programmes about the Ku Klux Klan, the Jesus Christians cult and the First Earth Battalion about a secret New Age unit which was set up within the US Army in the late 1970s.

    In 2012 Jon moved to New York. He became an American citizen in 2020.

    DISC ONE: A Message to You Rudy by The Specials
    DISC TWO: Cabaret sung by Jane Horrocks, from the Sam Mendes production of the musical Cabaret at the Donmar Warehouse, London in 1993
    DISC THREE: Underground by Tom Waits
    DISC FOUR: Drivin’ on 9 by The Breeders
    DISC FIVE: Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear by Randy Newman
    DISC SIX: Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple
    DISC SEVEN: America by Simon & Garfunkel
    DISC EIGHT: Jersey Girl (Live at Meadowlands Arena, E. Rutherford, New Jersey - July 1981) by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

    BOOK CHOICE: A Magnum photography book
    LUXURY ITEM: Legal medical marijuana
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Jersey Girl by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • David Harewood is a British actor and presenter who found global fame playing the CIA director David Estes in the acclaimed TV drama series Homeland. He was the first black actor to play Othello at the National theatre in 1997 and took the role of Martin Luther King in the Olivier award-winning play The Mountaintop in 2009.

    David was born in Birmingham in 1965. After one of his teachers suggested that he should try his luck at acting, he won a place at RADA where he tackled a number of challenging roles including King Lear. After graduating, he performed in a range of television and theatre productions, but by the time he auditioned for Homeland he says he was down to his last £80. He joined the cast of Homeland in 2011 and the following year he was awarded an MBE for services to drama.

    In 2019 he presented a BBC documentary called Psychosis and Me which told the story of the mental breakdown he experienced as a young man. The programme was nominated for a BAFTA award and was praised by critics for its honest exploration of a difficult subject and for helping to remove some of the stigma around mental health. He went on to present a range of documentaries which addressed subjects close to his heart including the health inequality exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the experience of slavery within the history of his own family.

    David lives in London with his wife and their two daughters.

    DISC ONE: Exodus by Bob Marley & The Wailers
    DISC TWO: Tears on My Pillow by Johnny Nash
    DISC THREE: One in Ten by UB40
    DISC FOUR: $29.00 by Tom Waits
    DISC FIVE: I Still Haven’t found what I’m Looking For by The Chimes
    DISC SIX: (Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding
    DISC SEVEN: Cruisin’ by D’Angelo
    DISC EIGHT: Ain’t Nobody by Rufus and Chaka Khan

    BOOK CHOICE: The Sandman by Neil Gaiman
    LUXURY ITEM: A disco dancefloor
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Ain’t Nobody by Rufus and Chaka Khan

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Paula McGinley

  • Ellie Simmonds has competed at four Paralympic Games, winning five gold medals and breaking world records on the way. She first came to national attention at the age of 13, when she won two golds at the Beijing 2008 Paralympics, and became the youngest person ever to be awarded an MBE a few months later.

    Ellie is the youngest of five children and was born with achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism. Swimming was central to her life from a very early age, and her ambition to compete at the highest level was sparked by watching the Athens 2004 Paralympics on TV at the age of nine, when her mother told her she could take part at any age, as long as she was good enough.

    She became the face of the London 2012 Paralympics and won a further two gold medals, followed by another gold in Rio in 2016. Shortly after taking part in the Tokyo Paralympics last year, she announced her retirement from competitive swimming at the age of 26.

    She recently presented TV documentaries on conservation and on the controversies surrounding drug treatments for achondroplasia.

    DISC ONE: Proud by Heather Small
    DISC TWO: Own It by Stormzy ft Ed Sheeran and Burna Boy
    DISC THREE: Toxic by Britney Spears
    DISC FOUR: Lose Yourself by Eminem
    DISC FIVE: Paradise by Coldplay
    DISC SIX: Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves
    DISC SEVEN: Unforgettable by French Montana feat. Swae Lee
    DISC EIGHT: Rocket Man by Elton John

    BOOK CHOICE: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
    LUXURY ITEM: A diary and pen
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Rocket Man by Elton John

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

  • Bradley Walsh is a familiar face to many millions of TV viewers, as the host of quiz shows including The Chase and Blankety-Blank, and as an actor in dramas such as Doctor Who and The Larkins.

    Bradley was born in Watford and after leaving school at 16 he was apprenticed to the local Rolls-Royce factory as a jet engineer. A keen footballer, he signed to Brentford FC when he was 19 but his career was cut short by injury after only two seasons with the club.

    He dealt with this blow by turning his attention to the entertainment business. He worked as a Pontin’s bluecoat and then tried his luck as a stand-up comedian - doing impressions and telling jokes at working men’s clubs. In 1986 he turned professional, and his first booking was a stint at the Pavilion Theatre on Cromer Pier. Later he became the support act for performers including Dame Shirley Bassey, Leo Sayer and Sir Tom Jones.

    In 1997 he hosted the quiz show Wheel of Fortune and three years later got his first acting role in the Channel 4 series Lock Stock….a spin-off from Guy Ritchie’s 1998 feature film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He followed this up with roles in Coronation Street, Law & Order: UK and Doctor Who

    Bradley released his debut album Chasing Dreams, featuring his interpretations of popular standards, in 2016. In that year it became the biggest-selling debut album by a British artist.

    Bradley lives in Essex with his wife Donna and their son Barney who appears alongside him in the television series Bradley & Barney Walsh: Breaking Dad.

    DISC ONE: Life on Mars? by David Bowie
    DISC TWO: March of the Mods by Joe Loss Orchestra
    DISC THREE: Bye Bye Baby by Bay City Rollers
    DISC FOUR: I’m Mandy Fly Me by 10cc
    DISC FIVE: Firefly by Tony Bennett
    DISC SIX: The Hungry Years by Neil Sedaka
    DISC SEVEN: Always and Forever by Heatwave
    DISC EIGHT: That’s Life (Remastered 2008) by Frank Sinatra

    BOOK CHOICE: The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas
    LUXURY ITEM: A set of golf clubs and balls
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Always and Forever by Heatwave

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • Fiona Hill is a foreign affairs specialist who advised Presidents George W Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. She came to wider public attention in 2019 when she testified against President Trump during his first impeachment.

    Fiona was born in Bishop Auckland, County Durham. Her father was a former coal miner who worked as a hospital porter and her mother was a midwife. After graduating in Russian and History from St Andrews University, she won a scholarship to read Soviet Studies at Harvard. She spent the next three decades establishing herself as a policy expert on Russia.

    In 2017 she joined the National Security Council at the White House as deputy assistant to President Trump and senior director for Europe and Russia. She left the administration in 2019 and later that year she testified to the US Congress as a witness in the hearings which led up to Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020.

    Fiona’s performance and North East accent caused a stir and her personal story was discussed in American newspapers and on television. Strangers in the street thanked her, but she also received death threats from people who opposed the observations she recounted during her testimony.

    Fiona is a senior research fellow at the Brookings Institution, a think tank based in Washington DC. She became an American citizen in 2002.

    DISC ONE: Message in a Bottle by The Police
    DISC TWO: It’s only a Paper Moon by Ella Fitzgerald
    DISC THREE: Ghost Town by The Specials
    DISC FOUR: The Passenger by Iggy Pop
    DISC FIVE: Goodbye America by Nautilus Pompilius
    DISC SIX: On Top of the World by Imagine Dragons
    DISC SEVEN: Hypersonic Missiles by Sam Fender
    DISC EIGHT: This is the Day by The The

    BOOK CHOICE: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
    Fiona writes about how her dad saved up to buy the Encyclopaedia Britannica – you’ll find the story in the Background section.
    LUXURY ITEM: Crystallised ginger
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: This is the Day by The The

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • Lauren shares handpicked gems from the Desert Island Discs back-catalogue with Radio 1 presenter Vick Hope, including Bob Mortimer, Maya Angelou, Joe Wicks, Sophia Loren, Tom Hanks, Dame Pat McGrath and Sinéad Burke.

  • Kirsty Young's castaway this week is George Michael, in a programme first broadcast in 2007. As a singer and songwriter he has enjoyed massive global success for a quarter of a century. He's sold more than 100 million records, won two Grammy awards and notched up countless number one hits.

    His ability to write, produce, and perform perfect pop songs is unquestioned. But along with the career highs, there have been lows too: he lost a long wrangle with his record company, was crippled by bereavement and for years questions about his sexuality were a matter of newspaper headlines until he was spectacularly outed a decade ago. In a rare interview, George Michael talks candidly to Kirsty Young about how he regained his emotional and professional confidence - and is now a happier and more peaceful man.

    [Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

    Favourite track: Love is a Losing Game by Amy Winehouse
    Book: Any book of short stories by Doris Lessing
    Luxury: DB9 car.

  • Kirsty Young talks to June Brown, in a programme first broadcast in 2017. June died at the age of 95 on 3rd April 2022. June enjoyed a very long acting career, initially on stage, and she was best known for her role as the long-suffering chain-smoking Dot Cotton (later Dot Branning) in the BBC TV soap EastEnders. She joined EastEnders on a three-month contract in 1985 and announced her departure in 2020. Producer: Sarah Taylor

  • Jens Stoltenberg is the Secretary General of NATO and a former Prime Minister of Norway.

    Although he was born into a political family in Norway, he grew up thinking he would become a statistician, before turning to a career in politics.

    He served as the Prime Minister of Norway twice. During his second term, Norway experienced one of the darkest days in its recent history, when 77 people were murdered in a bomb attack in Oslo and a mass shooting on a nearby island.

    Before becoming the Secretary General of NATO, a post he has held since 2014, he spent time as a UN Special Envoy on climate change. His term in office as Secretary-General has been extended until September 2023.

    DISC ONE: Lift Me by Madrugada and Ane Brun
    DISC TWO: No Harm by Smerz
    DISC THREE: So Long, Marianne by Leonard Cohen
    DISC FOUR: Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen
    DISC FIVE: Make You Feel My Love by Ane Brun
    DISC SIX: Til Ungdommen by Ingebjørg Bratland
    DISC SEVEN: Free Nelson Mandela by The Special A.K.A.
    DISC EIGHT: From Up Here by Ingrid Olava

    BOOK CHOICE: A statistics textbook
    LUXURY ITEM: A pair of skis
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Til Ungdommen by Ingebjørg Bratland

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Sarah Taylor
    (First broadcast in 2020)

    Photo credit: NATO

  • Winnie Byanyima is a human rights advocate and executive director of Unaids, the joint UN Programme which was set up to eradicate Aids as a threat to public health by 2030.

    Winnie was born in the village of Ruti, in south west Uganda, where her teacher parents raised her and her siblings to follow their example of doing good things for others. From an early age Winnie adopted the family motto of ‘truth and justice’.

    Winnie fled the country in 1978, during the regime of President Idi Amin, and came to the UK as a refugee. She won a scholarship to study aeronautical engineering at Manchester University, graduating in 1981. She returned home where she found a job as an engineer for Ugandan Airlines while secretly working for Yoweri Museveni’s resistance movement that opposed Amin’s successor, Milton Obote.

    In 1994 Winnie was elected as an MP in the Ugandan Parliament and was instrumental in drawing up a new constitution for the country. In 2013 she was appointed executive director of Oxfam International and became executive director of Unaids in 2019. She currently lives in Geneva.

    DISC ONE: Sanyu Lyange by Juliana Kanyomozi
    DISC TWO: Cantata No. 147: Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring by New London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Leopold Stokowski, with the Norman Luboff Choir
    DISC THREE: Le Bûcheron by Franklin Boukaka
    DISC FOUR: Heart of Glass by Blondie
    DISC FIVE: Umqombothi by Yvonne Chaka Chaka
    DISC SIX: Steal Away (Remastered) by Nat King Cole
    DISC SEVEN: Don't Worry Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin
    DISC EIGHT: I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free by Nina Simone

    BOOK CHOICE: The Second Sex by Simone De Beauvoir
    LUXURY ITEM: A basket weaving needle
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free by Nina Simone

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • Alan Cumming's wide-ranging career on stage includes playing Hamlet, starring opposite Daniel Radcliffe in Samuel Beckett’s Endgame and – perhaps most notably - taking the role of the Emcee in the musical Cabaret in London and New York to great acclaim: his 1998 Broadway performance won seven awards, including a Tony. He’s also appeared in films including GoldenEye and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, and in the TV series The Good Wife.

    Alan was born in Perthshire in 1965. His father was a forester and the family moved to the Panmure estate on the east coast of Scotland. Encouraged by his English teacher, Alan grew up loving drama at school but his childhood was blighted by his violent and abusive father. He worked for the publisher DC Thomson as a sub-editor before going to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. There he launched his performing career with fellow student Forbes Masson: together they were Victor and Barry, a comedy and music double-act. They drew on these characters for their BBC TV sit-com The High Life, based around a fictional Scottish airline.

    Alan has published a novel and three memoirs: his 2014 autobiography Not My Father’s Son detailed his very difficult relationship with his father, both in his early years and later in his life.

    In 2022 Alan is developing a solo dance-theatre work, focusing on the personal history of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, which he will perform in Scotland and New York. He’s now also the co-owner of a bar, Club Cumming, in Manhattan.

    DISC ONE: Dignity by Deacon Blue
    DISC TWO: L’Amour Looks Something Like You by Kate Bush
    DISC THREE: Barcelona by Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballé
    DISC FOUR: I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers
    DISC FIVE: Whenever Wherever Whatever by Maxwell
    DISC SIX: Give Me Back My Heart by Dollar
    DISC SEVEN: Catalani: La Wally : Ebben? ne andrò lontana Act 1 by Maria Callas and Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Tullio Serafin
    DISC EIGHT: These Are My Mountains by Peter Morrison

    BOOK CHOICE: Desert Gardening for Beginners: How to grow vegetables, flowers, and herbs in an Arid Climate by Cathy Cromell, Linda A. Guy, Lucy K. Bradley
    LUXURY ITEM: Marijuana seeds
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Give Me Back My Heart by Dollar

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

  • Robert Plant is a singer and songwriter who was Led Zeppelin’s frontman from the band’s inception in 1968 until it disbanded in 1980. Led Zeppelin sold hundreds of millions of albums and in their heyday acquired a reputation for unbridled rock ‘n’ roll hedonism. Since 1980 Robert has gone on to achieve success as a solo artist and has collaborated with other musicians, notably the bluegrass singer Alison Krauss. Their 2007 album Raising Sand won five Grammy Awards.

    Robert was born in West Bromwich in 1948. At 15 he appeared on stage for the first time as the lead vocalist for a local band after the regular singer fell ill. In 1965 he started performing with the Crawling King Snakes and it was after one of the band’s gigs that he met his friend, the drummer John Bonham.

    In 1968 Robert and John joined up with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones to form Led Zeppelin. Later that year the band embarked on its first US tour and the enthusiastic response from American audiences heralded a new force in British music. Over the next 12 years the band released eight studio albums including Led Zeppelin IV which featured one of their most popular tracks – Stairway to Heaven.

    In 1980 John Bonham died from alcohol poisoning at the age of 32 and Led Zeppelin broke up. Devastated by his friend’s death, Robert took himself off to explore other creative avenues, recording and performing with a wide range of artists.

    Robert and Alison Krauss released their second album, Raising the Roof, in 2021.

    Robert lives in Worcestershire near where he grew up. He is a committed fan of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Black Country homing pigeons.

    DISC ONE: Pink Peg Slacks by Eddie Cochrane
    DISC TWO: Serenade by Mario Lanza
    DISC THREE: I Ain’t Superstitious by Howlin’ Wolf
    DISC FOUR: Teenage Ska by Baba Brooks
    DISC FIVE: Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
    DISC SIX: Raha Gardishon Mein Hardam by Mohammed Rafi
    DISC SEVEN: Diaraby by Ali Farka Touré with Ry Cooder
    DISC EIGHT: Your Long Journey by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

    BOOK CHOICE: The Earliest English Poems, translated by Michael Alexander
    LUXURY ITEM: A basket containing photos of homing pigeons
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Serenade by Mario Lanza

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • Oti Mabuse is a dancer, choreographer and TV talent show judge. She has enjoyed great success on the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing and is one of only two professional dancers to win the glitterball trophy twice.

    Oti was born in South Africa in 1990, the year that Nelson Mandela was released from prison, and dance was a central part of her life from a very early age: her mother had set up a dance school so that black children could learn ballroom and Latin dancing. Oti followed in the footsteps of her two older sisters, winning dance competitions in South Africa and taking part in international events. She competed in Blackpool when she was just 11 years old, and retains strong memories of the elegant Tower Ballroom and the poor weather.

    Oti's father trained as a lawyer and her mother worked in education, and they felt that their youngest daughter needed the security of a professional qualification, so Oti studied civil engineering at university. Shortly before qualifying, she decided to abandon her degree and become a professional ballroom dancer, joining her sister Motsi in Germany.

    She first appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2015 and has recently announced her departure from the show. She lives in London with her husband, the dancer Marius Lepure.

    DISC ONE: Lose My Breath by Beyoncé (with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams)
    DISC TWO: My Afrikan Dream by Vicky Sampson
    DISC THREE: A Song for Mama by Boyz II Men
    DISC FOUR: Dance With My Father by Luther Vandross
    DISC FIVE: Un-break my Heart by Toni Braxton
    DISC SIX: I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman by Britney Spears
    DISC SEVEN: It’s My Life by Bon Jovi
    DISC EIGHT: Survivor by Destiny’s Child
    BOOK CHOICE: Will by Will Smith
    LUXURY ITEM: A photo of Oti and her Grandma
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: It’s My Life by Bon Jovi

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor