BBC Desert Island Discs

Desert Island Discs rescued episodes brings back West End stars

90 new editions of BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs have been rediscovered, including a number of West End legends.

The BBC has been broadcasting its popular Radio 4 show Desert Island Discs since 1942. Sadly, the BBC don’t have all of the episodes ever broadcast – in the past, the high cost of storing discs and tapes meant that some shows were taped over with new shows!

But fear not. Thankfully radio fans have often made their own recordings of radio shows, and it is these discoveries that are now helping to fill the gaps in the BBC’s archive.

One such recent discovery included home-made tapes of 90 lost editions of Desert Island Discs. The BBC has now digitised this hoard and you can listen to a fabulous collection of newly-rescued castaways on BBC Sounds.

Desert Island Discs sees a guest invited to choose eight discs, a book and a luxury to take with them as they’re castaway on a mythical desert island. They’re given the complete works of Shakespeare and the Bible. During the interview they explain their choices and discuss key moments in their lives, people and events that have influenced and inspired them and brought them to where they are today.

The new 90 editions of the show that have been discovered include many famous West End and film actors. Here’s our highlights of who to listen to. Also see the link below for a full list of the rediscovered episodes.

And check out our list of other great theatrical podcasts and radio shows.

Noel Coward (1963)

One of the West End’s most famous ever actors, writers and directors. His comedies, including Private Lives, Hay Fever and Blithe Spirit, are in constant production. Cameron Mackintosh renamed the Albury Theatre the Noel Coward Theatre in 2006.

Dame Edith Evans (1964)

A legend on stage, Edith Evans dominated the London stage for fifty years, playing hundreds of roles. Her most famous role was playing Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest, something she seems to have mixed feelings about! She says to Roy Plomley: “Yes, well we draw a curtain over Lady Bracknell. I’ve had Lady Bracknell in every form. As I’ve said, it only leaves that I should play her under water”!

Dirk Bogarde (1964)

Although Dirk is most famous for his film roles and as a writer, he also appeared in the West End. He confesses in his Desert Island Discs that he suffered from terrible stage fright. He told Roy Plomley that: “I’ve decided to pack that in. It’s a great shame, because as you know it was my first love. I was born into it, and I’ve cut myself off from it.” His first West End stage role was in Power Without Glory at the Fortune Theatre in 1947.

George Lascelles, Earl of Harewood (1966)

A big figure in the history of the Royal Opera House and English National Opera.

Robert Morley (1962)

Titan stage and screen actor, who played numerous roles on the West End stage including Henry Higgins in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion at the Old Vic Theatre in 1937. He won Drama League’s distinguished performance award in 1937.

Stanley Holloway (1975)

One of the most famous actor comedians of his generation. He originated the part of Alfred P. Doolittle in the Broadway production of My Fair Lady in 1956, and in the London transfer of My Fair Lady to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. He also starred in the film version. Other theatre included playing the Grave Digger alongside Alec Guinness in Hamlet at the New Theatre (now the Noel Coward Theatre).

Dame Margot Fonteyn (1965)

One of Britain’s most celebrated ballet dancers, appointed prima ballerina assoluta of the Royal Ballet by Queen Elizabeth II.

Links:
Desert Island Discs - rescued episodes

📷 Main photo: BBC Desert Island Discs

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