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Sir Ken Adam

Sue Lawley's castaway is designer Sir Ken Adam.

Sue Lawley's castaway this week is the man who's designed some of the most famous film sets ever made.

Sir Ken Adam was the production designer on seven of the James Bond films - including Dr No, Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever. His bold designs skilfully created the lairs of a string of arch villans, perhaps best typified by the headquarters of Blofeld in You Only Live Twice - which was built inside an extinct volcano with an artificial lake placed on top.

Sir Ken Adam began life as Klaus Adam, born into a middle class family in 1920s Berlin. As Hitler rose to power the Adam family were forced to flee to Britain. Klaus adopted the name Keith during the war when he became a fighter pilot and the only German to fight for the RAF. He became known as Heinie the Tank Buster in recognition of his daring raids across the continent. After the war he changed his name again to Ken and trained as an architect. This led to work in the film industry; first as a draughtsman, and then as an art director and eventually as a production designer. He won two Oscars: the first for Barry Lyndon, which he made with Stanley Kubrick in the 70s, and The Madness of King George.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: Java Jive by Inkspots
Book: Propylaen Kunstgeschichte - The History of Art
Luxury: Sketchpad and felt pens to design

Available now

45 minutes

Last on

Fri 28 May 2004 09:00

Music Played

  • Fred Astaire

    Let's Face The Music And Dance

    • Pennies from Heaven - Original Soundtrack.
    • Warner Bros.
  • Richard Tauber

    Ich Kusse Ihre Hand Madam

    • Behalten sie Mich in Erinerung.
    • Alhambra.
  • Django Reinhardt


    • Djang-ology.
    • Music For Pleasure France.
  • Richard Addinsell

    Warsaw Concerto

    Soloist: Martin Roscoe Orchestra: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

    • British Film Classics.
    • Chandos.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • The Ink Spots

      Java Jive

      • Swing High, Swing Low.
      • ASV.
  • Vera Lynn

    We'll Meet Again

    • Let's Meet Again.
    • Parade.
  • Roberto Murolo

    Anema E Core

    • Napoletana.
    • BMG.
  • Franz Schubert

    String Quintet in C major

    Soloist: Isaac Stern, Alexander Schneider

    • Schubert: Pablo Casals.
    • Sony Classical.
  • Book Choice

    • Propylaen Kunstgeschichte - The History of Art

  • Luxury Choice

    • Sketchpad and felt pens to design


Role Contributor
Presenter Sue Lawley
Interviewed Guest Sir Ken Adam


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