Desert Island Discs reveal the ultimate music picks for castaways
But these days you are more likely to hear The Beatles than Bach as the choices of castaways turn more contemporary.
In 1942, the year the radio programme first aired, 58 per cent of the playlist was classical, a pattern that remained until the 1990s.
Last year classical music made up one in every five picks with pop music the most popular genre. And for the first time the Fab Four became the most popular pick, edging out composers.
To celebrate Desert Island Discs’s 75th anniversary Radio Times conducted a survey of 3,200 castaway choices – analysing a year in every decade since the show started.
Although taste in music might have changed castaways still turn to movies, TV and musicals and enjoy a good chuckle whether it’s courtesy of Arthur Askey in 1942 (chosen by actress Pat Kirkwood), Monty Python in 2002 (chosen by crime writer Minette Walters) or Morecambe and Wise, chosen twice in 2012, by the Queen’s cousin Margaret Rhodes and Dawn French.
And everyone from James Corden to John Prescott still asks for a piano, as Richard Dimbleby did in 1958, believing they’ll finally have a chance to learn given the time cast adrift all on their own.
The survey also showed how the make-up of castaways has changed. The explorers and knights of the realm cast away in 1942 were all white and represented the establishment, as did the composers they chose. These days explorers like Ben Saunders are still being shipwrecked (luxury item: pen and paper) but so are TV presenters like Davina McCall (luxury item: a bath) and chefs like Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain (luxury item:Marmite).
I wasn’t going to have a cup of tea when Morrissey was having a vodka
Presenter Kirsty Young
Many bring the music of different cultures with them whether American rap (Tom Hanks chose LL Cool J), Egyptian ballads (Dame Zaha Hadid) or Irish folk (Colm Tóibín).
Speaking to Radio Times about the change in musical picks Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young said: “That’s a reflection of the burgeoning of pop culture. Guess what?
"Rock ’n’ roll happened, pop happened, punk happened, thrash metal happened, garage happened, and we’re going to play that stuff, because it’s important to people. What we do is reflect; we’re not there to make the medicine go down.”
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When the show first aired 50 per cent of the playlist was classical
She revealed that Sir David Attenborough has been her favourite guest on the BBC Radio 4 show so far.
The veteran wildlife television presenter appeared as a castaway on the show for the fourth time in 2012.
As the show marks its 75th year, Young – who has hosted the show since 2006 – said she fell “a little bit in love” with Sir David during his appearance on the show.
She told Radio Times magazine: “David Attenborough, I mean, if I only ever did one, it would be that one.
The Radio Times conducted a survey of 3,200 castaway choices
“Honestly, he was a total, pure highlight. Absolutely bloody marvellous.”
Kirsty, 48, added: “I try and make my castaway at ease. Once people relax, they’re more likely to open up.
"Bill Gates always wears an open-neck shirt so I wore an open-neck silk ladies’ shirt. For Paul Weller I wore a sharp suit.
"And we had it on good authority that Morrissey drinks neat vodka, so we made sure we had a bottle.
"When my producer said, ‘Would you like some tea or coffee…or vodka?’ Morrissey said, ‘Vodka.’ I had one as well.
"I wasn’t going to have a cup of tea when Morrissey was having a vodka. I didn’t drink it, he did.”
• The full interview is available in this week’s Radio Times, on sale from Tuesday 24 January 2017
Many bring the music of different cultures with them when the make their choices
CASTAWAY CHOICES AS REVEALED BY RADIO TIMES:
1942 – 56 per cent (Tchaikovsky)
1952 – 49 per cent (Beethoven)
1962 – 46 per cent (Mozart)
1972 – 53 per cent (JS Bach)
1982 – 46 per cent (Mozart)
1992 – 58 per cent (Mozart)
2002 – 45 per cent (Mozart)
2012 – 32 per cent (Mozart)
2016 – 21 per cent (The Beatles)