Main content

John Graham

Setter of fiendish crosswords John Graham (Araucaria) joins Kirsty Young to choose his Desert Island Discs.

Kirsty Young's castaway is the crossword compiler John Graham.

Now aged 90, he works under the name Araucaria and, for more than fifty years, has infuriated, intrigued and entertained with fiendish clues and mind-twisting anagrams.

Like his father and grandfather he became a vicar but, when divorce forced him to leave the church, crosswords provided an unlikely source of revenue.

Of the skills needed to dream up cryptic clues, he says: "So much of it is something that goes on unconsciously. You see the word, you play with it in your mind, you don't actually think about the punters at all at that stage, you try and do it for yourself. I hope that it equips one for life in the sense that it makes one think more clearly and that can only be good."

Record: Haydn - The Heavens are Telling
Book: The complete works of Saki.
Luxury: A telescope

Producer: Leanne Buckle.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 15 Jul 2011 09:00

Music Played

  • Ludwig van Beethoven

    Symphony No. 7 in A major - 2nd movement

    Artist: The Vienna Philharmonic conducted by Karl Bohm

    • Beethoven: Symphony No.7.
    • Deutsche Grammophon.
  • Kathleen Ferrier

    Blow the Wind Southerly

    Composer: Trad. arr Whittaker

    • Blow the Wind Southerly.
    • Decca.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    The ending of Bach’s Peasant Cantata.

    Artist: Lynne Dawson,Stephen Alder and the Friends of Apollo

    • The Friends of Apollo/ Peasant Cantata/Coffee Cantata.
    • Meridian.
  • John McCormack

    The Star of County Down

    Composer: traditional

    • The Garden Where the Praties Grow.
    • Pearl.
  • Procol Harum


    Composer: Reid/Brooker

    • Procol Harum: The Collection.
    • Castle.
    • Number CCSCD120.
  • King's College Chapel Choir

    Three Kings

    Composer: Trans.Bate – Cornelius arr.Atkins

    • Carols from Kings.
    • Classics for Pleasure.
  • The Church Choir of Saint Andrew, West Tarring with the organist Christopher Harris. The director was John Wardle.

    Song of Mary

    Composer: Richard Shephard (music) and words by Mary Holtby

    • Let us Light a Candle.
    • Field House.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Joseph Haydn

      The heavens are telling (from The Creation)

      Artist: The Berlin Radio Symphony Choir and Orchestra conducted by Helmut Koch

      • Haydn: Schopfung.
      • Berlin Classics.
  • Book Choice

    • The complete works of Saki - Saki

  • Luxury Choice

    • A telescope


Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest John Graham


  • Sun 10 Jul 2011 11:15
  • Fri 15 Jul 2011 09:00

Featured in...

The Desert Island Discs podcast

The Desert Island Discs podcast

Subscribe or download individual episodes.

Listen to over 2,000 programmes



Read the surprising things we've learned about some stand-out castaways.

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

Featuring David Beckham, the funniest and most moving moments, animations and quizzes.

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

Why does Vaughan Williams’s masterpiece appeal to so many castaways?