BBC Radio 4

"society & culture"

Eight tracks, a book and a luxury: what would you take to a desert island? Guests share the soundtrack of their lives.

Popular episodes

Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, athlete

Jul 18 • 35:16
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 youngs...

Professor Noel Fitzpatrick, veterinary surgeon.

Jul 11 • 37:40
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 c...

Paul Costelloe, fashion designer

Jul 4 • 34:14
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...

Margaret Busby, publisher

Jun 27 • 36:46
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 194...

Richard Wilson, actor and director.

Jun 20 • 37:19
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 Stobhil...

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Yo-Yo Ma, musician

Jun 13 • 37:45
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...

Heather Hallett, former judge and crossbench peer

Jun 6 • 35:58
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 appoint...

Amanda Khozi Mukwashi, charity CEO

May 30 • 36:06
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 Lu...

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Alexei Sayle, comedian

May 23 • 35:54
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 t...

Brian Greene

May 16 • 38:01
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 t...

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