Main content

Bob Harris

Kirsty Young talks to broadcaster Bob Harris.

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the broadcaster, Bob Harris.

Known affectionately as Whispering Bob, he's rarely been off our air waves in the past 44 years.

His big break came standing in for John Peel and he was so good that not long after he was given his own show on Radio 1. Throughout the seventies he also hosted the true music-fans' must see show, The Old Grey Whistle Test. His beard and tank top were almost as legendary as some of the guests - The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and John Lennon were among the line up. However with the arrival of punk things got personal.

The closest his family ever got to showbiz was when his dad, a policeman, clambered on stage to arrest the singer PJ Proby when his trousers split. Young Bob did follow his dad into the force but music and above all else radio were his obsession.

Much like his recording heroes, his own life has something of the rock n' roll vibe - three wives, eight children, a spell of bankruptcy and coping with prostate cancer. Yet through it all his skill, knowledge and love of broadcasting has always endured.

He says, "I'm a music anorak, a fan who got lucky ... from the moment I bought my first record aged 11, I couldn't wait to share music with others."

Producer: Cathy Drysdale.

Available now

45 minutes

Music Played

  • Mark Germino

    Rex Bob Lowenstein

    • Caughtin the Act of Being Ours….
    • RCA.
  • Robert Plant and Alison Krauss

    Gone Gone Gone

    • Raising Sand.
    • Rounder.
  • Paul Anka

    Diana

    • Paul Anka: 30th Anniversary Collection.
    • Demon.
  • Love

    Alone Again Or

    • Forever Changes.
    • ELEKTRA.
  • Neil Young

    Cinnamon Girl

    • Everybody knows this is Nowhere.
    • REPRISE.
  • Dick Stratton

    Music City USA

    • The Best of Tennessee & Republic Records Vol. III - Hillbilly Honky Tonk.
    • SnailWorx.
  • Kacey Musgraves

    Merry Go 'Round

    • Same Trailer Different Park.
    • Mercury.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Ben E. King

      Stand By Me

      • The Ultimate Collection: Stand By Me.
      • Atlantic.
  • Book Choice

    • A fictional book about cricket statistics.

  • Luxury Choice

    • A greenhouse

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest Bob Harris
Producer Cathy Drysdale

Broadcasts

Featured in...

The Desert Island Discs podcast

The Desert Island Discs podcast

Subscribe or download individual episodes.

Listen to over 2,000 programmes

Articles

Articles

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?

Podcast