Roy Plomley

The BBC are not renowned for their generosity with regard to their broadcasts. They are ever protective of their global markets so, for example, You Tube is subject to rigorous patrols to ensure TV shows are not posted without their permission.

Even when it comes to their radio shows, the listening rights for which are not subject to the television license fee, you can usually only listen again to a programme for a week after the transmission date.

One of the longest running shows is Desert Island Discs which began on 29th January 1942 and is as much of an institution as The Archers. It was devised by Roy Plomley and he presented it  until his death in 1985, after which, presenters have been Michael Parkinson, Sue Lawley and, the current host, Kirsty Young.

Plomley was very correct with a respectful formality that has all but disappeared from the airwaves these days. In the interview of flamboyant pianist Liberace he enquires in his distinctive plummy voice : “Mr Liberace, what part of the United States are you from?” as though he is only vaguely interested in the reply

Until recently, the earlier episodes have languished in the archives but thankfully many have been dusted off and can now be heard again.

Not every show is available, I was sorry not to be able to hear Noel Coward or Alan Bennett, but with over 1,000 programmes to choose from there’s no shortage of listening pleasure.

I’m currently working my way through this treasure trove (shows can be streamed or downloaded) and some of my picks so far are :
Roald Dahl  (27th October 1979) “I only write what I think is funny”.
John Peel (14th January 1990) introduced by Sue Lawley as “the perceptive voice of pop”.
Alice Cooper (21st November 2010) tells Kirsty Young about fun, sex, death, money and finding religion.
Roger Waters (29th May 2011) relates about being stroppy teenager and why he wrote The Wall.

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