• Brenda Hale, Baroness Hale of Richmond, is a former judge who served as the first female president of the Supreme Court. In 2019 she announced the court’s judgement that the prorogation of Parliament was ‘unlawful, void and of no effect’. The twinkling spider brooch she wore that day caused a sensation and set social media aflame. She was the first woman and the youngest person to be appointed to the Law Commission and in 2004 became the UK’s first woman law lord.

    Lady Hale was born in Yorkshire and read law at the University of Cambridge where she graduated top of her class. She spent almost 20 years in academia and also practised as a barrister. Later at the Law commission she led the work on what became the 1989 Children Act.

    Lady Hale retired as a judge in January 2020.

    DISC ONE: Messiah - Part 1: O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion, composed by Georg Friedrich Händel, performed by Kathleen Ferrier and The London Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult
    DISC TWO: Love Me Do by The Beatles
    DISC THREE: Move Him Into The Sun. Composed and conducted by Benjamin Britten. Performed by Peter Pears (tenor) and Galina Vishnevskaya (soprano) with the Bach Choir and the London Symphony Orchestra
    DISC FOUR: Part 1 Nos 4 & 5: Gloria in excelsis Deo – Et in terra pax. Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by The Monteverdi Choir and The English Baroque Soloists and conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner
    DISC FIVE: The Marriage of Figaro), K. 492 Sull'Aria. Composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed by sopranos Charlotte Margiono and Barbara Bonney, Netherlands Opera Chorus and the Concertgebouw Orchestra
    DISC SIX: Hand in Hand by Glória (Ireland’s Gay and Lesbian Choir)
    DISC SEVEN: Parry: I Was Glad, composed by Hubert Parry, performed by Westminster Abbey Choir, Simon Preston (organ) and conducted by William McKinney
    DISC EIGHT: Dies Irae. Composed by Giuseppe Verdi, performed by Swedish Radio Choir and the Eric Ericson Chamber Choir, with the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Claudio Abbado

    BOOK CHOICE: A Desert Island survival manual
    LUXURY ITEM: A solar-powered computer with sudoku puzzles and a writing application
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Part 1 Nos 4 & 5: Gloria in excelsis Deo – Et in terra pax, composed by Johann Sebastian Bach, performed by The Monteverdi Choir and The English Baroque Soloists, conducted by Sir John Eliot Gardiner

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Paula McGinley

  • Michael Holding is a cricket commentator and former West Indies bowler. He’s widely regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers in the history of international cricket. In July 2020 when rain stopped play during the television coverage of a Test Match, he gave an unscripted four minute monologue on institutional racism in sport and society in the wake of the death of George Floyd. His spontaneous eloquence won him widespread acclaim, including a Royal Television Society award.

    Michael was born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1954 and grew up playing Catchy Shubby, an informal and fast-moving form of cricket, in scrubland behind his parents' home. He made his debut for Jamaica aged 18. Two years later he played in his first Test match for the West Indies and went on to become part of a team that would make sporting history – not losing a single series for 15 years. Michael earned the nickname ‘Whispering Death’ for his long quiet run-up and extremely fast deliveries, and many cricket experts believe he bowled the greatest over in Test history – to the English batsman Geoffrey Boycott in 1981 in Barbados.

    He retired from international cricket in 1987 and became a well-respected and straight-talking commentator on the game: he has said this is his last year in the commentary box and he plans to return to his home in the Cayman Islands.

    DISC ONE: Don't Make Me Over by Dionne Warwick
    DISC TWO: War by Bob Marley And The Wailers
    DISC THREE: Pata Pata by Miriam Makeba
    DISC FOUR: Color Him Father by The Winstons
    DISC FIVE: What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye
    DISC SIX: Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins
    DISC SEVEN: That’s What Friends Are For by Dionne Warwick Featuring Elton John, Gladys Knight And Stevie Wonder
    DISC EIGHT: Who the Cap Fit by Bob Marley And The Wailers

    BOOK CHOICE: Long Walk To Freedom by Nelson Mandela
    LUXURY ITEM: A football
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: That’s What Friends Are For by Dionne Warwick Featuring Elton John, Gladys Knight And Stevie Wonder

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Katy Hickman
    Photo BBC / Amanda Benson

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  • Nazir Afzal is a solicitor and the former chief crown prosecutor for north-west England. Among his notable cases, he brought the Rochdale sex grooming gangs to trial in 2012.

    Nazir’s parents arrived in the UK from Pakistan in 1961 and he was born in Birmingham the following year. After completing his legal training he started his career as a defence lawyer but soon realised that he preferred prosecution to defence, joining the Crown Prosecution Service in 1991.

    As director of prosecutions for London he turned his attention to so-called honour-based violence and brought successful prosecutions against the perpetrators of these crimes. In 2011 as chief crown prosecutor for north-west England he began investigating sex grooming gangs in Rochdale, overturning a previous CPS decision not to bring charges against the gangs. He brought prosecutions against nine men who were convicted and jailed in 2012 for the sexual exploitation of 47 young girls.

    Nazir retired from the Crown Prosecution Service in 2015. He currently chairs the Catholic Church’s new safeguarding body and advises the Welsh government on issues of gender-based violence.

    DISC ONE: Jump Around by House of Pain
    DISC TWO: This Woman’s Work by Kate Bush
    DISC THREE: Why Should I Cry for You? by Sting
    DISC FOUR: One in Ten by UB40
    DISC FIVE: Set You Free (Voodoo And Serano Remix) by N-Trance
    DISC SIX: Woman in Chains by Tears For Fears With Oleta Adams
    DISC SEVEN: One by Mary J. Blige & U2
    DISC EIGHT: Talkin' Bout A Revolution by Tracey Chapman

    BOOK CHOICE: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
    LUXURY ITEM: A guitar
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: This Woman’s Work by Kate Bush

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • Robert Macfarlane is a writer whose books about the natural world, including The Wild Places and The Old Ways, have won many prizes and taken root in the best-seller charts.

    He was born into a family of enthusiastic amateur climbers and his early memories include being carried up the Cairngorms on his father's back. This childhood experience led to a lifelong passion, and inspired his first book, Mountains of the Mind, about the complex human fascination with mountains.

    His interest in the wider natural world also developed from a young age, and much of his writing focuses on the environments around us and how we relate to them. In The Wild Places, he travelled to marshes and moors, cliff-tops and beaches, in search of remaining areas of wilderness in the British Isles. In The Old Ways, he headed out on foot, following often ancient pathways through a range of landscapes, both in Britain and beyond.

    His book The Lost Words, created with the artist Jackie Morris and published in 2017, became a phenomenon. It highlighted how words such as bluebell, conker, heron and kingfisher were disappearing from modern British childhoods. It's been adapted for performance and widely distributed in schools and care homes.

    Robert is Director of Studies in English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He is married to Professor Julia Lovell and they have three children.

    DISC ONE: Nature Boy by Nat King Cole
    DISC TWO: The Ghost of O'Donahue by Johnny Flynn
    DISC THREE: California Dreamin by The Mamas And The Papas
    DISC FOUR: Birdhouse In Your Soul by They Might Be Giants
    DISC FIVE: Blessing by The Lost Words
    DISC SIX: Four Ethers by Serpentwithfeet
    DISC SEVEN: The Swimming Song by Loudon Wainwright III
    DISC EIGHT: Messiaen: Quartet for the End of Time (third movement) performed by Claude Desurmont (clarinet)

    BOOK CHOICE: Collected works of Gerard Manley Hopkins
    LUXURY ITEM: A chilli plant
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: The Ghost of O'Donahue by Johnny Flynn

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

  • Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill is an Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion heptathlete, and is one of the most successful women in British sporting history. She was the face of Team GB during the 2012 London Olympics, and her image adorned billboards and hoardings across the country in the run up to the Games.

    Born in Sheffield, Jessica discovered sport as a youngster after attending a local athletics camp during the school holidays. By the time she was 13 she was working with a coach and had joined the City of Sheffield Athletics Club.

    In 2006 she won bronze at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games but in 2008 she suffered an injury to her right foot which dashed her hopes of competing in the Beijing Olympics.

    She spent the next year working her way back to fitness and by the 2012 London Olympics she was at the peak of her powers. When she crossed the finish line on 4 August – known as Super Saturday when Team GB won three athletics gold medals in less than an hour – she took the gold medal with a British and Commonwealth record score which remained unbeaten for seven years.

    Just 15 months after the birth of her first child, Jessica won the heptathlon world title in Beijing – her third World Championship gold medal in a row. She won silver at the Rio Olympics in 2016. In October of that year, at the age of 30, she retired from competitive athletics.

    DISC ONE: Moment 4 Life by Nicki Minaj
    DISC TWO: Street Life by Randy Crawford
    DISC THREE: Westside by TQ
    DISC FOUR: Foolish by Ashanti
    DISC FIVE: Mo Money Mo Problems by The Notorious BIG Featuring Mase And Puff Daddy
    DISC SIX: Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack
    DISC SEVEN: Public Service Announcement by Jay-Z
    DISC EIGHT: Try a Little Tenderness by Otis Redding

    BOOK CHOICE: The Wonders of Life by Professor Brian Cox
    LUXURY ITEM: A photo album
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Unfinished Sympathy by Massive Attack

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • Professor Noel Fitzpatrick is a veterinary surgeon who presents the television series The Supervet. He has pushed the boundaries of treatment available to animals and has developed ground breaking surgery including fitting the world’s first bionic leg on a dog.

    Noel was born in Ballyfin in Ireland where his father Sean was a farmer. As a very small boy Noel’s job was to count the sheep at night which he credits as the catalyst for his enduring love of animals.

    He completed his training in Ireland where he worked as a country vet looking after livestock. He moved to England in the 1990s and set up his referral practice in Surrey in 1997.

    Some of his famous clients include Meghan Markle’s dog Guy and Russell Brand’s cat Morrissey. He has also written two best-selling books based on his experiences of working with animals.

    DISC ONE: One by U2
    DISC TWO: Love of My Life by Queen
    DISC THREE: Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
    DISC FOUR: Do Anything You Want To by Thin Lizzy
    DISC FIVE: Walking in My Shoes by Depeche Mode
    DISC SIX: Ruby Tuesday by The Rolling Stones
    DISC SEVEN: Uprising by Muse
    DISC EIGHT: Nothing Else Matters (Live) by Metallica And San Francisco Symphony

    BOOK CHOICE: Oscar Wilde: Essays and Letters, Plays and Poems, Stories
    LUXURY ITEM: A guitar

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • Paul Costelloe is a fashion designer who recently celebrated his 36th year showing at London Fashion Week, making him the event’s longest-standing designer.

    Paul was born in Dublin where his father ran a successful company making raincoats. He studied at the Grafton Academy of Fashion Design and then moved to Paris where he started a fashion course at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture but felt out of his depth and soon dropped out.

    He talked his way into a job with the eccentric French designer and performer Jacques Esterel, who designed Brigitte Bardot’s wedding dress, and then spent time in Milan and New York before returning to Ireland where he set up his own label.

    In 1983 Paul started designing clothes for Diana, Princess of Wales – a collaboration that lasted until her death in 1997. He created a range of memorable outfits for the Princess of Wales including the tuxedo suit she wore to the Pavarotti in the Park concert at Hyde Park in 1991 where the Italian tenor serenaded her in front of 125,000 people during a torrential downpour.

    DISC ONE: Don't Be Cruel by Elvis Presley
    DISC TWO: Raglan Road by Luke Kelly And The Dubliners
    DISC THREE: Save the Last Dance For Me by The Drifters
    DISC FOUR: Les Champs-Elysees by Joe Dassin
    DISC FIVE: Ol Man River by Paul Robeson
    DISC SIX: Did You Not Hear My Lady by Aled Jones
    DISC SEVEN: Di Capua, Capurro: O Sole Mio! performed by Luciano Pavarotti (tenor) and National Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Giancarlo Chiaramello
    DISC EIGHT: Grace by Rod Stewart

    BOOK CHOICE: Reynard the Fox by Anne Louise Avery
    LUXURY ITEM: A painting kit
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Grace by Rod Stewart

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • Margaret Busby is a publisher and editor who was the chair of the Booker Prize jury in 2020.

    She has spent a life time in the literary world and was the youngest person and first black woman to set up a publishing house when she was twenty three years old. Together with Clive Allison, she created Allison and Busby based in Soho, London.

    Margaret was born in Ghana in the 1940s and spent her childhood at a boarding school in the UK whilst her parents ran a medical practice in rural Ghana. She studied English at Bedford College, University of London before embarking on her career in publishing.

    Margaret’s love of poetry was the catalyst for setting up Allison and Busby. They were both totally new to publishing and did not know the usual industry rules. She and her business partner had fifteen thousand, five shilling poetry magazines printed without any means of distributing them . They went on to be an eclectic publishing house championing new work and also reprinting classic texts from writers of all backgrounds.

    In recent years, Margaret has made time to be a literary judge and has compiled two landmark anthologies Daughters of Africa and New Daughters of Africa which pull together writings by women of African descent from Ancient Egypt to the present day.

    DISC ONE: 7 Seconds by Youssou N’dour with Neneh Cherry
    DISC TWO: Haiti by David Rudder
    DISC THREE: Ave Maria – Gounod by Kathleen Battle (soprano) and Orchestra of St. Lukes, conducted by Leonard Slatkin
    DISC FOUR: Visions by Stevie Wonder
    DISC FIVE: My Baby Just Cares For Me by Nina Simone
    DISC SIX: Masanga by Jean Bosco Mwenda
    DISC SEVEN: Soweto Blues by Miriam Makeba
    DISC EIGHT: On The Sunny Side Of The Street by Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins And Sonny Stitt

    BOOK CHOICE: Return to My Native Land by Aimé Césaire
    LUXURY ITEM: An endless supply of Ghanaian chocolate
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Visions by Stevie Wonder

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Sarah Taylor

  • Richard Wilson is an actor and director who became a household name when he played the part of Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave.

    Richard was born in Greenock in Scotland in 1936. As a child he performed in amateur drama productions and harboured a secret desire to become an actor. He left school at 17 and trained as a laboratory technician at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow.

    Following National Service in Singapore, he moved to London and at the age of 27 successfully auditioned for a place at RADA. His first role was as a stonemason in Dr Finlay’s Casebook and he later reached a wider audience playing snooty Jeremy Parsons QC in the television series Crown Court.

    Richard went on to carve out a successful theatre and television career as both an actor and director. He starred in the comedy Only When I Laugh and later in the series Tutti Frutti alongside Emma Thompson and Robbie Coltrane.

    In 1990 he delighted audiences with his portrayal of the grumpy pensioner Victor Meldrew in One Foot in the Grave, with his catchphrase ‘I don’t believe it!’ – a phrase which has haunted Richard ever since. The series regularly attracted an audience of 17 million viewers and Richard won two BAFTAs for his performance.

    Richard received an award for his outstanding contribution to film and television at the Scottish BAFTAs in 2013.

    DISC ONE: Symphony No. 6 in D Minor (4th movement) composed by Jean Sibelius, performed by the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Herbert von Karajan
    DISC TWO: Farewell to Stromness by Peter Maxwell Davies
    DISC THREE: Im Abendrot from Four Last Songs, composed by Richard Strauss, performed by Renee Fleming and the Houston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach
    DISC FOUR: The Rite of Spring, composed by Igor Stravinsky, performed by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Simon Rattle
    DISC FIVE: Cucurrucucu Paloma by Caetano Veloso
    DISC SIX: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack
    DISC SEVEN: Hammond Song by The Roches
    DISC EIGHT: Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor (first movement) by Sheku Kanneh-Mason (cello)

    BOOK CHOICE: The poetry of Robert Burns
    LUXURY ITEM: A subscription to The Guardian newspaper
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Im Abendrot from Four Last Songs, composed by Richard Strauss, performed by Renee Fleming and the Houston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • Yo-Yo Ma is a cellist and one of the world's most high-profile classical musicians. He has performed for eight US Presidents, appeared in concert halls across the globe and reached new audiences through film soundtracks and TV shows including The Simpsons and Sesame Street.

    Yo-Yo Ma was born in Paris in 1955. His Chinese-born parents were both musicians and his father was his first cello teacher. The family moved to the USA when Yo-Yo was seven, and a noted child prodigy, playing for John F Kennedy and Leonard Bernstein. He went on to study at the Juilliard School in New York and at Harvard University.

    He has recorded more than 100 albums, and his many Grammy awards reveal the range of his musical interests. Along with prize-winning concerto and chamber music discs, and an acclaimed recording of Bach's Suites from unaccompanied cello, he's won awards for folk and tango albums. He is also the driving force behind the Silk Road Ensemble, creating music inspired by the cultures found along the historic trade route linking China and the West.

    His high-profile appearances in America include the first performance on the site of the World Trade Centre, a year after the 9/11 attacks, and contributions to the inaugurations of Presidents Obama and Biden. A more recent informal solo performance took place at his local Covid vaccination centre in Massachusetts.

    Yo-Yo Ma has been married to Jill Hornor for more than 40 years, and they have two children.

    DISC ONE: Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
    DISC TWO: Erbame Dich composed by J.S Bach, conducted by Ton Koopman, performed by Kai Wessel (alto vocals), accompanied by Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra
    DISC THREE: Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15: Maestoso, composed by Johannes Brahms, conducted by George Szell, performed by The Cleveland Orchestra
    DISC FOUR: Elgar: 1st movement Cello Concerto in E Minor, Op 85, composed by Edward Elgar, conducted by Jacqueline du Pré (cello) and London Symphony Orchestra
    DISC FIVE: Tin Tin Deo (Live) by The Oscar Peterson Trio
    DISC SIX: M4 Lieder, Op.27: Morgen! Composed by Richard Strauss, performed by Janet Baker (mezzo-soprano) and Gerald Moore (piano)
    DISC SEVEN: Podmoskovnye Vechera - Moscow Nights, composed by Vasily Solovyov-Sedoi, conducted by Constantine Orbelian and performed by Dimitri Hvorostovsky (baritone) and Moscow Chamber Orchestra
    DISC EIGHT: Schubert- Piano Trio #2 In E Flat, Op. 100, D 929 - 4. Allegro Moderato, composed by Franz Schubert, performed by Alexander Schneider (violin) and Mieczysław Horszowski (piano)

    BOOK CHOICE: Encyclopedia Britannica
    LUXURY ITEM: A Swiss Army knife
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Schubert- Piano Trio #2 In E Flat, Op. 100, D 929 - 4. Allegro Moderato, composed by Franz Schubert, performed by Alexander Schneider (violin) and Mieczysław Horszowski (piano)

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

  • Heather Hallett, Baroness Hallett of Rye, is a former judge and a cross-bench peer.

    Called to the Bar in 1972, Heather practised family, civil and criminal law, eventually specialising in criminal law. In 1989 she became a QC and was the first woman to chair the Bar Council in 1998. She was only the fifth woman to be appointed to the Court of Appeal in 2005 and was appointed vice president of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division in 2013.

    Heather was born in Eastleigh in Hampshire. Her father Hugh was a policeman who worked his way up to the rank of assistant chief constable. With each promotion the family moved house and Heather’s education was disrupted, leading her teachers to conclude that she was unlikely to secure a place at university. Heather proved them wrong and studied law at the University of Oxford.

    In 2009 she acted as coroner at the inquest into the deaths of the 52 victims of the July 7th London bombings in 2005 and she has taken over the inquest of Dawn Sturgess who died in the Salisbury Novichok poisonings.

    Heather retired as a judge in 2019 and currently sits as a life peer.

    DISC ONE: Caroline (Live) by Status Quo
    DISC TWO: Climb Ev’ry Mountain by Peggy Wood (Mother Abbess)
    DISC THREE: Wing Commander Hancock by Tony Hancock and Kenneth Williams
    DISC FOUR: Invisible Touch by Genesis
    DISC FIVE: The Best by Tina Turner
    DISC SIX: I Heard it Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye
    DISC SEVEN: Dear Lord and Father of Mankind by Temple Church Choir
    DISC EIGHT: Vissi d’Arte by Maria Callas (soprano) and Orchestra Del Teatro Alla Scala, conducted by Victor De Sabata

    BOOK CHOICE: Inspector Morse Mysteries Series Collection by Colin Dexter
    LUXURY ITEM: A solar-powered iPad
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Caroline (Live) by Status Quo

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • Amanda Khozi Mukwashi is the chief executive of Christian Aid, leading development and humanitarian work in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Amanda was born in Twickenham and grew up in Zambia and Rome where her stepfather worked in the diplomatic service. She studied international trade and investment law at the University of Zambia in Lusaka and during this time she began to develop her political outlook and commitment to the issue of social justice.

    She moved to the UK in 1996 where she took a master’s degree at the University of Warwick. But even with two degrees and considerable work experience she was unable to find a job and retrained as a care worker. She says her time working in nursing homes “reshaped” and “humbled” her.

    Later she worked for the VSO and served with the United Nations Volunteer programme in Germany before landing what she calls her “dream job” at Christian Aid in 2018.

    DISC ONE: Pata Pata by Miriam Makeba
    DISC TWO: Ave Maria (after Arcadelt) Composed by Jacques Arcadelt, performed by Choeur de Chambre de Namur, conducted by Leonardo García Alarcón
    DISC THREE: My Hometown by Bruce Springsteen
    DISC FOUR: Jerusalema by Master Kg Featuring Nomcebo Zikode
    DISC FIVE: You Know My Name by Tasha Cobbs Leonard Featuring Jimi Cravity
    DISC SIX: (Red)emption Song by John Legend
    DISC SEVEN: I Believe by Fantasia
    DISC EIGHT: It Is Well With My Soul by Wintley Phipps

    BOOK CHOICE: Who Moved My Cheese? by Dr Spencer Johnson
    LUXURY ITEM: Quality Street chocolates
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: It Is Well With My Soul by Wintley Phipps

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • Alexei Sayle is a comedian and writer, who began his career just over 40 years ago at the small Comedy Store venue in London, which proved a launch-pad for a new generation of comic stars.

    Alexei was born in Liverpool, where his parents were loyal members of the Communist Party: their politics informed almost every aspect of the family’s life, including holidays by train to eastern European countries that were then part of the Soviet bloc.

    He won a place at Chelsea School of Art but didn’t thrive as a painter. He began performing with a theatre troupe and - after answering an advertisement - became the compere on the opening night of the Comedy Store. He soon found himself at the centre of a new wave of British comedy. With his tight suits and often abrasive stage presence, he enjoyed successful stand-up tours, appearances on numerous TV shows including The Young Ones, and even a novelty pop hit.

    He attempted to launch a career in America, but was fired from a TV series on his 40th birthday. He stepped back from stand-up and devoted himself to writing novels and short stories. More recently, he has returned to live performance, and has also created a number of comedy series for Radio 4.

    He lives in London with his wife Linda: they have been married for almost 50 years.

    DISC ONE: Volver by Carlos Gardel
    DISC TWO: Joe Hill by Joan Baez
    DISC THREE: Aviator’s March by Yevgeny Kibkalo (baritone), conducted by Alexei Kovalev
    DISC FOUR: Seeräuber Jenny (Pirate Jenny) by Lotte Lenya
    DISC FIVE: Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin
    DISC SIX: Shipbuilding by Robert Wyatt
    DISC SEVEN: It Was a Good Day by Ice Cube
    DISC EIGHT: Bonkers by Dizzee Rascal

    BOOK CHOICE: The Sword of Honour Trilogy by Evelyn Waugh
    LUXURY ITEM: A Chinese Broadsword
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Me and Bobby McGee by Janis Joplin

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor

  • Brian Greene is a theoretical physicist, mathematician and writer, whose area of research is string theory. His books and broadcasts distil the complexities of science for a general audience, leading one critic to say appreciatively “he speaks maths, physics and human.”

    Born in New York City, his father taught him the basics of arithmetic when he was a toddler and by the time he was five Brian was multiplying 30-digit numbers by 30-digit numbers - just for the pure joy of working things out by himself. At 11 Brian had exhausted everything his maths teacher could teach him but, thanks to his teacher’s resourcefulness, he managed to get extra tuition from a graduate student at Columbia University.

    After graduating from Harvard in 1984, Brian won a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University to study gravity and quantum mechanics. At Oxford he became captivated by the idea of string theory which was causing much excitement among the physics community at the time. String theory was seen as having the potential to answer life’s big questions about space, time and the universe.

    Over the years Brian has been at the forefront of scientific discoveries including mirror symmetry and later proving that tears could happen in the fabric of space.

    Brian is currently professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University.

    DISC ONE: An extract from Icarus At the Edge of Time. Composed by Philip Glass, performed by the Orchestra of St Lukes, conducted by Brad Lubman, narrated by John Lithgow
    DISC TWO: Rockin’ in the Rockies by The Cappy Barra Boys Harmonica Quartet
    DISC THREE: Turn Around by Harry Belafonte
    DISC FOUR: An extract from Light Falls, composed by Jeff Beal, performed by Hollywood Chamber Orchestra
    DISC FIVE: Brahms Rhapsody in G minor, Op. 79 no 2, performed by Martha Argerich
    DISC SIX: Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland with the Victor Young Orchestra
    DISC SEVEN: A Million Dreams by Ziv Zaifman, Hugh Jackman and Michelle Williams
    DISC EIGHT: The Sound of Silence by Disturbed

    BOOK CHOICE: Philosophical Explanations by Robert Nozick
    LUXURY ITEM: A solar powered particle collider
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Turn Around by Harry Belafonte

    Presenter: Lauren Laverne
    Producer: Paula McGinley

  • Billie Piper is an Olivier Award winning actor and former pop star.

    She was born in Swindon in September 1982, and her parents nurtured her interests in dance and drama from a young age.

    After a winning a scholarship to study at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, she moved to London as a young teenager, leaving the family home. By the age of 15, she was a full time pop star. She became the youngest female artist ever to go straight to number one in the UK charts when her debut single was a hit in 1998.

    Just three years later, after releasing more successful singles and two albums and touring furiously to promote them, Billie left the music industry. She married the DJ Chris Evans, and found herself the frequent subject of newspaper stories.

    She decided to turn to acting, her first love, and by 2005 she was back in the spotlight playing Rose Tyler in the BBC’s revival of Doctor Who. Since then she has taken on a wide range of acclaimed screen and stage roles, most notably picking up all six available awards for Best Actress – including the Olivier Award – when she starred in a new version of Lorca's play Yerma. Her recent TV series I Hate Suzy, which she co-created, has been BAFTA nominated and she has also written and directed her first film, Rare Beasts.

    DISC ONE: Pure Imagination by Gene Wilder
    DISC TWO: This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody) by Talking Heads
    DISC THREE: Sara by Fleetwood Mac
    DISC FOUR: Out of Space by The Prodigy
    DISC FIVE: Champagne Supernova by Oasis
    DISC SIX: Turn The Page by The Streets
    DISC SEVEN: Halo by Beyoncé
    DISC EIGHT: Juicy by The Notorious B.I.G

    BOOK CHOICE: The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy
    LUXURY ITEM: Billie’s children’s art work
    CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Champagne Supernova by Oasis

    Presenter Lauren Laverne
    Producer Sarah Taylor