Main content

Steve McQueen

Kirsty Young's castaway is the artist and film-maker Steve McQueen.

Kirsty Young's castaway is the artist and director Steve McQueen.

These days his talents are well recognized - his art has won The Turner Prize and his most recent movie, "12 Years A Slave" scooped an Academy Award, a Bafta and a Golden Globe. He wasn't always as lauded: at school in West London he was "shoved to one side" in the belief that the best he could hope for was to earn a living as a manual labourer. Instead he portrays the extremes of what human beings put themselves and others through. Expression is where his heart lies - he describes it as "dancing with ghosts".

Along with reaching the top of two professions he has also managed to please the diverging demands of his parents - his father wanted him to get a trade, his mother urged him to do what he wanted.

He says, "I want to make films that are essential. We're all going to die and we haven't got a lot of time on this planet. Life goes very quickly, so we might as well make films people will go to see because they need it or want it."

Producer: Cathy Drysdale.

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 26 Sep 2014 09:00

Music Played

  • Michael Jackson

    Rock With You

    • Off the Wall.
    • Epic.
  • Prince

    Raspberry Beret

    • The Very Best of Prince.
    • Warner.
  • The Specials

    Too Much Too Young

    • 25 years of Rock ‘n’ Roll - 1980.
    • Connoisseur.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Miles Davis

      Blue In Green

      • Kind of Blue.
      • Columbia.
  • Tricky

    Hell is Round the Corner

    • Tricky vs Gravedigger: The Hell EP.
    • Island.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Aria (from Goldberg Variations)

    Performer: Glenn Gould.
    • Great Performances: Glenn Gould.
    • Sony Classical.
  • Kate Bush

    This Woman's work

    • The Sensual World.
    • EMI.
  • Kanye West


    • My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
    • Mercury.
  • Book Choice

    • The Fire Next Time - James Baldwin

  • Luxury Choice

    • Compass


Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest Steve McQueen
Producer Cathy Drysdale


  • Sun 21 Sep 2014 11:15
  • Fri 26 Sep 2014 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?