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The online archiving of so many of the more-than-3,000 episodes of Desert Island Discs gives us all an opportunity to revisit classic encounters and hear for the first time interviews with castaways who, intentionally or not, got the nation talking and sometimes created headlines.

Those moments have been frequent since the programme launched in 1942, and for a myriad of different reasons. Desert Island Discs endures because of the brilliant simplicity of its format - guests chose eight recordings meaningful to their lives, a book and a luxury item - which, prompted by the interviewing skills of the four presenters of the show since its inception, encourages them to speak personally.

Often the shock of an episode, as we'll find out, is in just how much the castaways reveal of themselves; sometimes, it's the choice of a luxury item. Hell-raising actor Oliver Reed famously picked an inflatable rubber woman in 1974; broadcaster David Dimbleby floored current presenter Kirsty Young in 2008 when he suggested he'd take like to take her as his luxury item to the desert island.

Here are seven other episodes from the archive still talked about today:

Morrissey (2009)

"It took us comfortably three years to get him there," Kirsty told the Radio Times about trying to book Morrissey for Desert Island Discs. "On the day that we were due to be recording, I thought, chances are, he's not going to turn up." He did turn up and the episode became something of an event, not without its controversy, particularly with regards to Morrissey's views on suicide. Kirsty asks, "Have you thought about shuffling off this mortal coil at a time of your choosing?" to which he replies, "Yes, I have. And I think this self-destruction is honourable. I always thought it was. It's an act of great control and I understand people who do it." Kirsty: "You can't really stand other people's company... I'm never quite sure when you're joking. Are you serious about that?"

Dame Moura Lympany (1979)

This episode from 1979 has gone down in Desert Island Discs' legend, but first a bit of history: In 1958, German-British soprano Elisabeth Schwarzkopf got tongues wagging by selecting seven tracks that included her as the soloist (the one piece that didn't was Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier Prelude). Not to be outdone, English concert pianist Dame Moura Lympany went for a full-house 21 years later, and she remains the only castaway to have played entirely her own recordings. She explains her decision to original presenter Roy Plomley at 6:20, saying that he didn't want to repeat her selections from her first appearance in 1957, and that'd she "enjoy reminiscing" with her own records on a desert island. (Very occasionally castaways pick their own books, including Louis Armstrong in 1969, and director/producer Otto Preminger in 1980 after a prickly encounter with Roy.)

Gordon Brown (1996)

Eyebrows are raised when politicians are interviewed on Desert Island Discs. Certainly not always, but it's often thought that they pick songs that are politically correct and perhaps not the music that reveals the most about themselves. They're not known for speaking freely either, but there's a real spark to this conversation between Sue Lawley and Gordon Brown. He was shadow chancellor in 1996, soon to become chancellor. Sue challenges him on his perceived "gloomy image" before frankly asking him about his sexuality at 30 minutes: "People want to know whether you're gay or whether there's some flaw in your personality that you haven't made a relationship?" Brown replies: "It just hasn't happened." It did soon, though: Brown married Sarah Macaulay four years later.

Tony Adams (2010)

We've come to think of footballers as being similar to politicians - media-trained to the point of being unable to speak truthfully, and generally having awful taste in music. Former England captain Tony Adams doesn't just pick some great tunes - The Jam's Boy About Town, Squeeze's Black Coffee in Bed, Chet Baker's I've Never Been In Love Before - he stuns in this extraordinary episode by being almost brutally honest. By 8:10, he's already choking up talking about his mother, who had died of bone cancer 10 years previously, before discussing his fears, insecurities and battle with alcoholism. At 13 minutes, he reveals that as young player he would get so drunk, he'd wet his bed, forcing his mother to hang out his mattress out of the window to dry, without comment.

Norman Mailer (1979)

That Norman Mailer asked for his luxury to be "a stick of the very best marijuana I could find" caused quite the water-cooler moment in 1979. The rambunctious American writer added: "I would save it for years and hope it didn't get too stale, because I'd know I would have one opportunity to smoke it, and only one, so I would wait for that perfect day on the desert island when all the conditions were right." Roy Plomley says: "This is illegal talk, Mr Mailer!" to which he responds: "Here we are in trouble again!" But Roy lets him have his wish, content, no doubt, that Mailer had just given him an insightful and excellent interview. It's well worth listening to in full.

Yoko Ono (2007)

For many years, before the episode went online, a false memory abounded that Yoko Ono had chosen to take The Cheeky Girls' The Cheeky Song (Touch My Bum) to take to the desert island. Good rumour, but not true (she picked John Lennon's Beautiful Boy), although there was plenty about her 2007 appearance that took people by surprise, including presenter Kirsty Young. "It wasn't one of my favourite interviews, but it was an extraordinary encounter," she told the Radio Times. "She talked to me about becoming pregnant with her son [Sean]. And that she and John Lennon had had a discussion about having a termination. It was very intimate, I wasn't expecting it, so that was very surprising… It was a window on a little part of popular culture and history that was fascinating." Yoko also said that Lennon was there in the studio with her.

Lady Mosley (1989)

We'll finish with the most controversial of all Desert Island Discs episodes - the 1989 appearance of Lady Mosley, the aristocratic Mitford sister who in 1936 married Sir Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists, and was imprisoned during the Second World War. Lady Mosley says that she admired Hitler "very much" (they met many times) and that her husband wasn't anti-semitic ("he didn't know a Jew from a gentile"), despite Sue Lawley reminding her that he'd called Jewish people "an alien force". Lady Mosley also claims that the number of Jews exterminated by the Nazis is exaggerated. "It was years before I could really believe those things had happened," she says at 16:45. "I don't really believe it was six million people - it's just not conceivable." A stunned Sue plays another record, and later accuses Lady Mosley of "rewriting history".

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