Desert Island Discs is a remarkable radio programme. It’s been broadcast for 3,227 episodes, from 1942 to the present day. The premise is fairly well-known: a guest is invited to imagine that they’re on a desert island, and is asked to choose eight songs, a book, and a luxury item that they’d take with them to make their stay on the island more bearable.

Four incidents strike me as particularly remarkable:

  1. In 1958, the opera singer Elisabeth Schwarzkopf chose her own recordings for seven of her eight songs.
  2. In 1979, Schwarzkopf was outdone by pianist Moura Lympany, who plumped for herself for every one of her songs.
  3. In the early 1970s, presenter Roy Plomley attempted to interview the author Alistair MacLean, who wrote Where Eagles Dare, but ended up speaking to a member of the Ontario tourist board with the same name – who, as it happened, had never written a book. The episode was never broadcast.
  4. In 1971 the outspoken and somewhat gruff Yorkshire show jumper Harvey Smith declined to take a book to the island, on the basis that he’d never read one.