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Desert Island Discs

Mike Harding | 14:44 UK time, Friday, 21 November 2008

I was listening to Desert Island Discs the other day and my mind went back to the time I did the programme in London with the most affable Roy Plumley, who of course devised the programme. (It was Roy by the way who got the great jazz fiddler Stéphane Grappelli out of Paris in a BBC helicopter as the Germans were stamping down the Champs-Elysées - but for that Grappelli could well have ended up in Auschwitz.)

My first choice of record was Dick Gaughan singing The John MacLean March, and I wondered, as I heard Kirsty Young's guest, whether my choice would be the same today. I think it would, the reason being that there is something timeless and majestic about that song, as there is about all true folk songs, and that is why I love the music. Made for no other reason than that the maker simply has to do it, the great songs of the Common People are true works of folk.

Some modern songs, I believe, will make it into the canon. In another hundred years people will still be singing songs like Blackwaterside, I Live Not Where I Love, The Cruel Ship's Carpenter and The Bitter Withy alongside songs like Deportees, Tunnel Tigers, Never Any Good, The Sun's Coming Over The Hill and other great contemporary songs.

I wonder if someone a hundred years hence will pick one of those for their Desert Island Disc?


  • Comment number 1.


    although Roy Plomley may have organised it, I thought Stephane Grappelli was already on tour in London with the Hot Club Quintet when war broke out?

  • Comment number 2.

    Hi Mike,

    your musings reminded me of once hearing Dick Gaughan's wonderful rendition of the great Burns song, "Now Westlin Winds" on Desert Island Discs. It was some years ago now and the guest who made this fine choice was the novelist, Kazuo Ishiguro. I took a look at the Desert Island Discs site today, but could find no entry for Ishiguro in the long alphabetical list of past "castaways". Have the Beeb and Kazuo fallen out I wonder ? Surely not over his choice of DG's recording ? I was thrilled to find that it had been chosen, because it would unquestionably by one of my own chosen 8 ....

    Warmest regards,



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