Sir Tim Waterstone, businessman
Sir Tim Waterstone is the founder of the bookshop chain that bears his name. Born in May 1939, he was the youngest of three children. His father, who worked for a tea company all his life, served in the Royal Army Service Corps during the war, and so was absent when Tim was very young. Their relationship was difficult throughout his childhood. Tim was educated at boarding schools from the age of six, when his parents went to India for two and a half years. After studying English at Cambridge and a stint working in India, he joined Allied Breweries, moving to WH Smith in 1973. Eight years later he was fired and at this point he decided to open his own bookshop.The first Waterstone’s opened its doors in 1982 when Tim was 43. A further 86 bookshops opened within a decade. In 1993, he sold the company to his former employer, WH Smith. Five years later, he bought it back again as part of a newly formed group, HMV Media, but just three years after that, in 2001, he resigned as chairman. Since then he’s made several unsuccessful attempts to buy back the company which changed hands most recently in 2018.He recently celebrated his 80th birthday and lives in London with his third wife, the television director Rosie Alison. BOOK CHOICE: Oxford Book of English PoetryLUXURY ITEM: A Photo of his wifeCASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: The Dream of Gerontius by Edward ElgarPresenter: Lauren LaverneProducer: Cathy Drysdale
4 Aug 2019
Charles Hazlewood, conductor
Charles Hazlewood is a conductor and the founder of Paraorchestra, the world's first professional ensemble of disabled musicians. Once described as the Heston Blumenthal of orchestral music, Charles has spent his career challenging Britain’s musical palate, exploding boundaries and expanding our ideas about what an orchestra can be - and do. His repertoire encompasses Beethoven, Bruckner and Barry White, and his critically-acclaimed projects include more than 100 world premieres and the first orchestral headline performance at Glastonbury. Paraorchestra, the ensemble he established in 2011, reached a global audience at the closing ceremony of the 2012 London Paralympics. He also co-founded an opera company in South Africa, and its production of Carmen, with a mainly black cast, won international acclaim. He studied music at Keble College, Oxford and was the Organ Scholar there. He won the EBU conductor's competition in 1995 and has had an international career as a conductor. DISC ONE: Somebody’s Gonna Off The Man by Barry White & The Love Unlimited OrchestraDISC TWO: A Rainbow in Curved Air by Terry RileyDISC THREE: Ach, ich fühls, composed by Mozart, conducted by Otto Klemperer and performed by Gundula Janowitz and Philharmonia Orchestra DISC FOUR: R. Strauss: 4 Lieder, Op. 27 - 4. Morgen! by Richard Strauss, conducted by Kurt Masur, performed by Jessye Norman and Leipzig Gewandhaus OrchestraDISC FIVE: Improvisation by Olivier Latry DISC SIX: Kraftwerk-Rewerk, composed by Charlotte Harding and Lloyd Coleman, conducted by Charles Hazlewood DISC SEVEN: Ndisakuthanda Mna, composed by Georges Bizet, performed by Pauline Malefane, Andile Tshoni and Dimpho Di Kopane, conducted by Charles HazlewoodDISC EIGHT: The Last Time/Ultima Vez by Pauline Oliveros BOOK CHOICE: A book of poetry by Ivor CutlerLUXURY ITEM: An espresso machineCASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Ach, ich fühls, composed by Mozart, conducted by Otto Klemperer and performed by Gundula Janowitz and Philharmonia Orchestra Presenter: Lauren Laverne Producer: Sarah Taylor
24 May 2020
Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO
Jens Stoltenberg is the Secretary General of NATO and a former Prime Minister of Norway. Although he was born into a political family in Norway, he grew up thinking he would become a statistician, before turning to a career in politics. He served as the Prime Minister of Norway twice. During his second term, Norway experienced one of the darkest days in its recent history, when 77 people were murdered in a bomb attack in Oslo and a mass shooting on a nearby island.Before becoming the Secretary General of NATO, a post he has held since 2014, he spent time as a UN Special Envoy on climate change. His term in office as Secretary-General has been extended until September 2022. DISC ONE: Lift Me by Madrugada and Ane BrunDISC TWO: No Harm by SmerzDISC THREE: So Long, Marianne by Leonard CohenDISC FOUR: Hungry Heart by Bruce SpringsteenDISC FIVE: Make You Feel My Love by Ane BrunDISC SIX: Til Ungdommen by Ingebjørg Bratland DISC SEVEN: Free Nelson Mandela by The Special A.K.A. DISC EIGHT: From Up Here by Ingrid OlavaBOOK CHOICE: A statistics textbookLUXURY ITEM: A pair of skisCASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Til Ungdommen by Ingebjørg Bratland Presenter: Lauren LaverneProducer: Sarah TaylorPhoto credit: NATO
12 Jul 2020
Classic Desert Island Discs: Stephen Hawking
Another chance to listen to the theoretical physicist speaking to Sue Lawley in 1992. Stephen Hawking wrote the best-selling A Brief History of Time and was the founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, where he was also the Emeritus Lucasian Professor. He talked to Sue Lawley about his life and work, and the illness which left him severely disabled, as well as selecting the eight discs he would choose to take to the mythical island.Favourite track: Requiem by Wolfgang Amadeus MozartBook: Middlemarch by George EliotLuxury: Crème brûlée
15 Apr 2018
Most Popular Podcasts
Kirsty Young's castaway this week is Ed Sheeran. His songs have brought him two Grammys, four Brit awards and global success. Shortly after the release of his latest album, Divide, tracks from it occupied nine of the top 10 places in the UK singles chart.Born into a creative family, Ed had piano and cello lessons as a youngster and briefly sang in a local church choir. At the age of 11, seeing Eric Clapton play Layla on TV at the Queen's Golden Jubilee concert inspired him to take up the guitar. Ten years later, Ed himself was performing at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert.Ed left school and home at 16 to focus on playing gigs in London. Despite relentless performing he failed to secure a recording contract and decided to try his luck in America. During a successful stint performing in Los Angeles, he came to the attention of the Academy Award-winning actor and musician Jamie Foxx, and within months of returning to the UK he'd signed a record deal. His first single, The A Team, became a top ten hit around the world and won him an Ivor Novello award, and his second and third albums topped the UK and US charts. In 2015 he performed at Wembley Stadium as a solo artist for three nights to capacity crowds, and this year he is headlining the Pyramid stage on the final night of Glastonbury.Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
7 May 2017
Mark Strong, actor
Mark Strong has appeared in more than 60 films, along with numerous TV dramas and plays. His career took off after he won a leading role in the landmark 1996 BBC series Our Friends in the North, and since then his screen work includes dramas such as Syriana, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Zero Dark Thirty and The Imitation Game, as well as the fantasy and comic book worlds of Stardust, Kick Ass and Shazam. In 2015 he won the Olivier best actor award for his London stage performance in A View from the Bridge by Arthur Miller, in a production that also won him great acclaim in New York. Mark was born in London, the only child of an Austrian mother and an Italian father. His father left the family when Mark was a baby and has played no part in his life. Thanks to his mother, Mark is fluent in German, and he spent most of his school holidays with his Austrian grandmother. His mother had two jobs to support them both, and Mark attended state boarding schools in the UK from the age of six. His first taste of performing came in a punk rock band at school, but he began his further education by starting a law degree in Germany, before changing course and returning to the UK to study drama. Most recently he has been filming the TV drama Temple, in which he plays a rogue surgeon operating in abandoned tunnels beneath a London underground station.DISC ONE: Spanish Stroll by Mink DeVilleDISC TWO: Are You Lonesome Tonight (Laughing Version) by Elvis PresleyDISC THREE: Helden by David BowieDISC FOUR: Police and Thieves by The Clash DISC FIVE: (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction by DevoDISC SIX: You’ve Got the Love by The Source featuring Candi Staton (Eren’s Bootleg Mix) DISC SEVEN: Peter Piper by Run DMC DISC EIGHT: Whole Lotta Love by Ike and Tina Turner BOOK CHOICE: Magnum Streetwise: The Ultimate Collection of Street Photography LUXURY ITEM: A wind up radio CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Helden by David Bowie Presenter Lauren LaverneProducer Sarah Taylor
7 Mar 2021
David Beckham is Kirsty Young's guest as Desert Island Discs celebrates its 75th Anniversary. As a professional footballer he's the only Englishman to win the league titles in England, Spain, the US and France. He spent the bulk of his career as a midfielder for Manchester United, winning the Treble - Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League - in 1999, before moving to Real Madrid in 2003. He headed to the US to play for LA Galaxy in 2007, and ended his career at Paris Saint-Germain in 2013, retiring in May that year. Born and raised in East London, the middle child of Ted and Sandra, David Beckham discovered football early and spent hours kicking a ball around at the local park with his father. At the age of seven, he played for his first team, Ridgeway Rovers, before coming to the attention of Manchester United while attending the Bobby Charlton Soccer School. He became a trainee with Manchester United in 1991, and progressed to make 265 first team appearances, winning the Premier League six times, the FA Cup twice and the UEFA Champions League once. He played for England from 1996 to 2009 and captained the side for six years.He has been married to Victoria Adams - known as Posh from the Spice Girls - since 1999 and they have four children. Since retiring from professional football in 2013, David has spent more time on his work with UNICEF which he has supported since 2005. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
29 Jan 2017
Classic Desert Island Discs: Ricky Gervais
Another chance to listen to the comedian, Ricky Gervais speaking to Kirsty Young in 2007.In just twelve episodes, his show The Office changed the face of British television comedy. At its centre was the comic monster, David Brent, a middle-manager being filmed for a mock-documentary who saw the ever-present cameras as his route to popularity and fame. Ricky Gervais's performance was both excruciating and unmissable - one critic called the programme "among the most affecting and invigorating works of fiction since the turn of the century".As he discusses with Kirsty Young, comedy was the language he grew up with - the youngest of four children, being able to come up with a gag or a smart rejoinder was the linguistic currency of his home. That, he says, is where the 'show-off performer' was born. Now with seven Baftas, two Golden Globes and an Emmy to his name, Ricky Gervais is gratified that his work is recognised and says his aim has always been to bring art into comedy.
7 Apr 2019
Rupert Everett, actor
Rupert Everett is an actor, writer and director whose breakthrough came in 1981 when he was cast as a gay schoolboy in Another Country, Julian Mitchell's play and subsequent film. Rupert later starred in Dance with a Stranger before making a splash in Hollywood playing Julia Roberts's gay confidante in My Best Friend's Wedding. But his movie career took a dive after The Next Best Thing - in which he played the gay father of Madonna's baby - flopped. After a period out of the limelight he turned his attention to writing and won great acclaim for his witty and illuminating memoirs about his life in showbusiness. In 2018 Rupert starred in his directorial debut, The Happy Prince - a film about Oscar Wilde's final years in exile. The film was a decade-long labour of love for Rupert from writing the screenplay to securing the funding and persuading his friends Colin Firth and Emily Watson to join the cast. The film was well-received, with one critic calling it a 'deeply felt, tremendously acted tribute to courage'. Later this year Rupert is starring in the Broadway revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?BOOK CHOICE: Travels with my Aunt by Graham GreeneLUXURY ITEM: Vegetables CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Being Boring by Pet Shop Boys Presenter: Lauren Laverne Producer: Paula McGinley
9 Jan 2020
Kirsty Young's castaway is the journalist and broadcaster Christiane Amanpour. Her career as a reporter was forged in some of the world's most hostile environments from Bosnia to Rwanda and Iraq to Israel. From the early '90s onwards she was so ubiquitous on screen that her peers in the press pack coined the darkly comic phrase "where there's a war, there's Amanpour."Born to an Iranian father and a British mother, she initially wanted to be a doctor, but the Revolution in Iran in 1979 galvanised her political consciousness and she turned to journalism. Her first major assignment was in Saudi Arabia where she covered the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. She describes her time in Bosnia as a life-changing experience which made her determined to tell the stories of ordinary people caught up in the chaos of conflict.During her career she has interviewed some of the biggest names on the world stage from Bill Clinton and Tony Blair to Robert Mugabe and Colonel Gaddafi. The winner of 11 Emmy Awards, she now anchors her own nightly television show on CNN although she can be whisked away at a moment's notice to cover major disasters around the globe. She has borne witness to some of history's worst atrocities but what gets her through is her eternal optimism and the courage and dignity of humanity.Producer: Paula McGinley.
2 Oct 2016
Heidi Thomas, screenwriter
Heidi Thomas is a screenwriter and playwright best known for Call the Midwife. The BBC TV series, which began in 2012, was originally a six part adaptation of a trilogy of memoirs by Jennifer Worth, recalling her experiences as a midwife in the East End of London. It was an immediate hit, with 10 million viewers a week, becoming one of BBC One’s most popular dramas and a fixture in the Christmas schedules. Born in 1962, Heidi Thomas grew up as the eldest of three children in the leafy suburbs of Liverpool. Her father ran a drain cleaning business while her mother looked after the children, including Heidi’s youngest brother David, who was born with Down’s Syndrome.Heidi studied English at Liverpool University, supporting herself by selling ladies’ underwear at a department store. During a bout of viral hepatitis, which left her unable to apply for jobs when she graduated, she entered a competition for new plays and won a prize for her debut, All Flesh is Grass. During the production,of her next play, Shamrocks and Crocodiles, she met the actor Stephen McGann. They went on to marry, and many years later Stephen was cast as the GP in Call the Midwife.After nearly a decade in the theatre, Heidi made the leap into television, first writing on existing series such as Soldier, Soldier and Doctor Finlay. Her other screenwriting credits include Lilies, based on her grandmother’s recollections, and adaptations of classic novels including Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford, Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. DISC ONE: You Belong to Me by The Duprees DISC TWO: Penny Lane by The Beatles DISC THREE: Gentle on my Mind by Dean Martin DISC FOUR: Who Will Sing Me Lullabies? by Kate RusbyDISC FIVE: The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face by Roberta Flack DISC SIX: Finishing The Hat by Josh Groban DISC SEVEN: Agnus Dei from Requiem, op. 48, conducted by Nigel Short and performed by London Symphony Orchestra Chamber Ensemble and TenebraeDISC EIGHT: Both Sides, Now by Joni Mitchell BOOK CHOICE: London Labour and the London Poor by Henry MayhewLUXURY ITEM: A hot water bottleCASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Both Sides, Now by Joni MitchellPresenter: Lauren LaverneProducer: Sarah Taylor
15 Dec 2019
Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King won 39 Grand Slams and a total of 20 Wimbledon titles and is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Born in California in 1943, she was the eldest daughter of Bill and Betty Moffitt. She discovered tennis at the age of ten: at 15 she won in her age bracket at the Southern California championships, and in 1961, she won the women's doubles at Wimbledon with Karen Hantze, the youngest pair to achieve such a victory. In 1968, when professional competitors were admitted to Grand Slam tournaments, she won Wimbledon for the third time and was paid just £750 while Rod Laver, the Men's champion, took home £2,000. So began her campaign for gender equality, which involved boycotting tournaments and setting up their own professional women's circuit. In 1973, then aged 29, she beat the 55-year-old former tennis champion Bobby Riggs in a match which became known as 'The Battle of the Sexes': it remains the most-watched tennis match ever. That year the US Open awarded the same financial reward to men and women and in 2007 Wimbledon followed suit. Billie Jean also founded the Women's Tennis Association and the Women's Sports Foundation in the 1970s.She married her husband, Larry, in 1965 but by the late 1960s, she had realised that she was gay. She was outed by a former lover who sued her for palimony in 1981, and although she won the case, she lost almost all her commercial endorsements. She has been with her partner, Ilana Kloss, for nearly 40 years and retired from singles matches in 1983 and doubles in 1990. She was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2009 and has continued to be an ambassador for her sport and for gender equality.Presenter: Kirsty YoungProducer: Cathy Drysdale.
15 Jul 2018
Kirsty Young's castaway is the writer, feminist & activist, Gloria Steinem.At the forefront of the second wave of feminism, she came to prominence after publishing an article entitled "After Black Power, Women's Liberation" in 1969. Two years later she co-founded the feminist magazine Ms. As an activist, she has spent much of her life travelling, giving talks and lecturing. Born in 1934 in Ohio, her father was a businessman who ran a lake-side resort in the summer and packed up his family at the first sign of frost to travel cross-country in a caravan selling antiques. Her mother had been a newspaper journalist and later suffered a nervous breakdown before Gloria was born. She became her mother's sole carer aged eleven when her parents divorced. It was only following their separation, having settled down in a house in Toledo, that she spent her first full year at school.After high school, she read politics and government and then traveled around India for two years on a fellowship. On her return, she established herself as a writer in 1960s New York and co-founded Ms. magazine in 1971. Since then, her writing has appeared in innumerable magazines, newspapers, anthologies, television commentaries, political campaigns, and film documentaries in America and internationally. In 2013 she was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States' highest honour, by Barack Obama. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
20 Mar 2016
Louis Theroux is a television documentary maker. He has received two BAFTAs and a Royal Television Society Award for his work which includes the series Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends and When Louis Met…Born in 1970, and brought up in south London, he is the son of the American writer Paul Theroux and the BBC World Service radio producer Anne Castle. He was privately educated at Westminster School and read History at Oxford, graduating with a first. He moved to the USA where he was introduced to the American documentary maker Michael Moore and started making segments on unusual subcultures for Moore’s show TV Nation. He was given his own series – Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends – by the BBC in the late 1990s and, after three series, he went on to present two series of When Louis Met…, which included Neil and Christine Hamilton, Max Clifford, Chris Eubank and Jimmy Savile. Since then, he has made dozens of documentaries, many of them in the USA. In 2016, he revisited his encounters with Jimmy Savile in the wake of Savile’s death and the surfacing of allegations of child sexual abuse. The same year, his only feature-length film, My Scientology Movie, was released. His most recent documentaries dealt with sexual assault on American campuses, mothers with post-natal mental illness, and escorting.BOOK CHOICE: Remembrance of things Past – Marcel Proust LUXURY: 40,000 piece Jigsaw puzzleCASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: “Heaven on their Minds” from the album Jesus Christ SuperstarPresenter: Lauren LaverneProducer: Cathy Drysdale
12 May 2019
Kirsty Young's castaway is the cookery writer and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi. His food mixes the flavours of the Middle East and the Mediterranean and has been credited with changing the way many eat and cook, fuelling the surge in popularity of cooking ingredients including wakame seaweed, orange blossom, pomegranate seeds and za'atar. Born to a German mother and an Italian father in Jerusalem, he grew up enjoying a wide range of culinary influences and he loved food from an early age. After completing a master's degree at Tel Aviv University, he enrolled in a six-month cookery course at Le Cordon Bleu school in London. While working as a pastry chef he met his future business partner, Sami Tamimi, a Palestinian also from Jerusalem, and they opened their first deli in London's Notting Hill in 2002. He has written a weekly food column for The Guardian since 2006 and has published five cookery books, as well as opening four more delis and a restaurant. Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
18 Nov 2016
Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, is Kirsty Young's castaway. She worked for Google at the beginning of the tech boom before joining Facebook in 2008. Raised in Miami Beach, Florida, she studied economics at Harvard. She became chief of staff for Larry Summers, Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton, before moving to Silicon Valley.Sheryl published her first book called Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead in 2013 which tried to answer the question why so few women reach the top echelons of their professions. In 2015, her husband of eleven years and father of their two children, Dave Goldberg, died suddenly while they were on holiday. In her second book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, she describes her struggles in dealing with this sudden loss.Producer: Cathy Drysdale.
30 Jul 2017