Kirsty Young's castaway is the singer Sandie Shaw. With her melodic, velvety voice, bare feet and Sassoon bob she was the epitome of everything that was swinging about the '60s. She was just 17 when she first topped the charts with Always Something There to Remind Me and went on to become Britain's first Eurovision winner with Puppet on a String. She loathed the song at the time, but has recently come to terms with it after recording a new version which is, she says, rather forlorn. Along with the highs have been terrible lows - years that she calls her dark ages, when, without money or creative freedom, she felt hopeless. It was Buddhism that turned her fortunes around and became central to her life. Now, she says, she cannot believe the journey life has taken her on and she is preparing for a final flourish as a performer. Record: None of them! Book: Lecture on The Heritage of the Ultimate Law of Life by Daisaku Ikeda Luxury: Omamori Gohonzon Producer: Leanne Buckle.
Dec 26, 2010
Kirsty Young's castaway is the Oscar-winning animator Nick Park. His most famous creations are Wallace and Gromit: Gromit the silent but wise dog; Wallace, his well meaning owner with notably less brain-power. They now hold the same place in the nation's heart at Christmas that Morcambe and Wise once occupied. They are old-fashioned and quintessentially British - as familiar as bread and butter, or hoping the rain holds off - but their appeal is international. The world they inhabit is one of Jacobs cream crackers and tea-strainers - so it's little surprise that in real life too Nick Park's own creature comforts are modest: "The thing is, I have everything I want really. I've got my little house, I've got a campervan, I love the British countryside, I'm not after yachts or things like that." Record: I Forgot that Love Existed - Van Morrison Book: A Collins Bird book Luxury: My own 'Amazing pair of binoculars' Producer: Leanne Buckle.
Dec 19, 2010
Kirsty Young's castaway week is the aviator, inventor and arts patron, Sir Torquil Norman. He comes from a family where derring-do is in the DNA - his grandfather was a pioneering airman, his grandmother an adventurer and his father also a keen pilot. Torquil ended up in the toy trade where the skills needed were, he says, a close attention to detail combined with the outlook on life of a seven year old. He was, he admits, perfectly qualified. In retirement he set about his biggest project - he bought a disused railway engine shed and raised tens of millions of pounds to safeguard its future as a venue for performing arts and a centre for young people. Record: Nobody Knows You when You're Down and Out - Bessie Smith Book: Book by his father: Nigel Norman - Verses 1911 - 1943. Luxury: A miniature still with a little ice-making machine attached to it to make dry martinis.
Dec 12, 2010
Kirsty Young's castaway is the writer and historian Frances Wood. As head of the Chinese collection at the British Library she is the gatekeeper to some of the rarest printed texts in the world. Her life has been immersed in the language and culture of the Far East and, along the way, she's spent time learning how to throw hand-grenades, plant rice in the paddy-fields and bundle Chinese cabbages. She was in China in the final months of Mao Zedong's regime and remembers being aware of the sense of national unease: "There were the bodies that floated down the Pearl River to Hong Kong - you did get a real sense of foreboding. You did know that the whole country was on edge." Producer: Leanne Buckle Record: Don Carlos Book: A copy of Chinese dictionary Cihai, (which means Sea of Words) from the 1930s Luxury: The War Memorial outside Euston Station.
Dec 5, 2010
Kirsty Young's castaway is the best-selling writer Robert Harris. He was, apparently, a political junkie from a young age; he was just six when he wrote the essay: 'Why me and my dad don't like Sir Alec Douglas Home' and he also had an early realisation that he wanted to grow up to be a writer. His first novel - Fatherland - imagined a world after the Nazis had won World War II. It sold more than three million copies and made him a household name. "I can remember I wrote the opening sentence and I practically had to go and lie down afterwards," he said, "the possibilities of it - and the feeling that I'd finally arrived at what I wanted to do - it was overwhelming." Record: Every Day I write the book - Elvis Costello Book: Scoop by Evelyn Waugh Luxury: A nightly fragrant bath.
Nov 28, 2010
Kirsty Young's castaway is the rock musician Alice Cooper. As a teenager he says it was British music that he tuned in to - listening to The Beatles, The Yardbirds and The Who. He realised that while rock music had many heroes, there were few villains - that was the territory he marked out for himself. He developed his trademark look - blackened eyes, straggly hair and glamorous clothes - and set about designing live shows that were gleefully gory and macabre. While critics have described him as 'the world's most beloved heavy metal entertainer', it took him a while to untangle himself from his creation. "For a long time I honestly didn't know where I began and Alice ended. My friends at the time were Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and I was trying to keep up with them. And I realised when they all died that you didn't have to be your character off stage." Record: Work Song - The Butterfield Blues Band Book: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut Luxury: An indoor golf driving range Producer: Leanne Buckle.
Nov 21, 2010
Kirsty Young's castaway is the cookery writer Anna Del Conte. Born to a wealthy Milanese family, she arrived in Britain in 1949 where her Italian ingenuity with food was sorely needed in a nation still facing rationing and no olive oil. Her books, starting with Portrait of Pasta in 1976, helped to change all that, and established her as a food hero for younger cooks like Nigella Lawson and Delia Smith. She has still more to teach however: whatever you do, she says, you shouldn't serve bolognese with spaghetti as it's just the wrong shape. Tagliatelle is much better. Record: Part of the duet from the first act of Otello Book: The Leopard by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa Luxury: Extra virgin olive oil.
Nov 19, 2010
Kirsty Young's castaway is the poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan. Thirty years ago he was working in a factory gluing together tennis ball halves. Then he got a grant, chucked in his job and devoted himself to writing and performing. These days he's known as the Bard of Barnsley and his appeal stretches from the terraces of his local football club to the balcony of the London Coliseum... he is poet in residence at both Barnsley FC and the English National Opera... He still lives in the village where he was born and he considers and analyses British culture from his very particular vantage point in south Yorkshire. He says: "You can do the universal in the local, I always think. You can see all the changes that have happened all over the world in the 20th and 21st centuries in microcosm." Producer: Leanne Buckle Record: 4' 33" - John Cage Book: The Long and The Short of It: Poems 1955-2005 by Roy Fisher Luxury: A tandem bike with wooden models of his family on the front.
Nov 7, 2010
Kirsty Young's castaway is the Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. Of his career, he says: "Joining the Liberal Party was a no brainer for me - when you're a young man, you don't get a calculator out saying 'Am I going to get to power?' you get propelled forward by idealism". Yet this week more than any other, critics have questioned whether his interest in power has meant his ideals have had to take a back seat. In this candid conversation, he describes the behind-the-scenes negotiations that underpinned the coalition and he shares the personal trauma when, after his wife and baby son had both been dangerously ill, he wondered whether a political career would place too heavy a burden on his family. Producer: Leanne Buckle Record: Schubert - Impromptu No.3 in G flat major Book: The Leopard by Giuseppe Di Lampedusa Luxury: A stash of cigarettes.
Oct 24, 2010
Kirsty Young's castaway is the barrister Michael Mansfield. He is one of Britain's leading QCs - the Birmingham six, the Marchioness disaster, the Stephen Lawrence trial and the death of Jean Charles de Menezes are only a handful of the high profile cases he's been involved in. He describes himself as a 'radical lawyer' and says he's been educated by the cases he's taken on. He has become, he says, increasingly angry and radical over the years. "I do feel that reputation, standing up for principle, is one of the few ways in which a difference can be made." Record: The Goons - What's the Time, Eccles? Book: The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine as his Bible: and The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz Luxury: A drum kit.
Oct 17, 2010