Saturday, 12 March 2011

Desert Island Discs

Kirsty Young - Current Presenter
of Desert Island Discs
What great news that  classic episodes of BBC Radio's longest running institution Desert Island Discs is to gain some extra repeats when BBC Radio 7 becomes Radio 4 Extra next month.

I always felt this show has been a long overlooked document of changing trends of popular public figures since the 1940s.

Roy Plomley began the show back in 1942 and I have memories of hearing him interviewing guests on Saturday evenings on Radio 4 back in the 1970s.

I did used to get a bit disappointed when the choices always leaned towards the classical but with hindsight, given the stature of the guests of that era I can see why. Dad's Army's Arnold Ridley told Roy Plomley in 1973 "The classics never die..." and he was right!

Roy Plomley - Creator and
Original Presenter of Desert Island Discs
In recent years, I've often been on the look out for vintage episodes of  Desert Island Discs and have obtained only a handful, although I have maintained a steady collection of recent shows featuring Kirsty Young in the interviewers seat.

Anyone who has any Desert Island Discs from the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s featuring Roy Plomley as the interviewer I'd love to hear from you! Hopefully I can feature articles on vintage editions of the show in future posts!

In the meantime, I can recommend two great books written by Roy Plomley:

Desert Island Discs (William Kimber, 1975) documents the early years of the show, its creation and some of the memorable guests who appeared (and didn't quite appear) on the desert island.

Roy Plomley's Autograph  in my signed edition of 
Plomley's Pick Of Desert Island Discs
Plomley's Pick of Desert Island Discs (Weidenfield & Nicolson, 1982) features several interviews transcribed from original shows including Peter Sellers (since lost from the archive), Lauren Bacall, Paul McCartney, Russell Harty, Jeffrey Archer, Les Dawson and David Niven among many others.

I would imagine Roy Plomley could have written many books in this mould and I'm amazed he didn't do more. Hopefully the forthcoming repeats on Radio4 Extra will allow us to once again enjoy more of this great broadcasters work.

1 comment:

  1. Andy-I have a handful of programmes from the 80s (complete or extracts). As and when I digitise them I can let you have copies. I wonder how many programmes from the Roy Plomley era the BBC kept.

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