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On this day in history in 1942, began the radio programme Desert Island Discs.
Desert Island Discs is the longest running music programme in the history of radio. The programme’s format consists of a permanent interviewer and a weekly guest and the guest is invited to imagine himself the sole castaway on a desert island. The guest then chooses eight pieces of recorded music to provide some solace on the island while he waits for the dilatory rescue services to liberate him from his ennui. The guest is also allowed to take with him a written work, other than the Bible and Shakespeare, which are presumed to be already on the island, and one luxury item, which must be inanimate and of no practical value. The theme music, Eric Coates’ By The Sleepy Lagoon, is played to the accompaniment of cackling seagulls.
In the intervals between the playing of the guest’s chosen pieces, the interviewer subtly interrogates the guest on various aspects of his life and career. The first castaway to appear was Vic Oliver. Other guests include Princess Margaret, Spike Milligan, Stephen Hawking, Judi Dench and Noel Coward. The last five Prime ministers have appeared as guests but only John Major when in office. The first interviewer was the designer of the programme, Roy Plomley, who presented it continuously from 1942 until his death in 1985. Michael Parkinson took his place until 1988, when he gave way to Sue Lawley who presented the programme to September 2006. When Ms Lawley intimated her intention to step down, there was no shortage of candidates to take over. From the multitude of contenders, the BBC, in its wisdom, selected Ms Kirsty Young to host the programme, from 1st October 2006, when her first guest was Professor Quentin Blake.
Plomley, Roy. Desert Island Discs.
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