Desert Island Discs guests that will make you wiser

Keith Richards' recent episode was all well and good. But here are five from the archive that will make you a better person

Desert Island Discs guests that will make you wiser 1


Why it’s great: Shambolic chubster Vegas has always had a reputation as an affable pub philosopher, but no one expected him to be quite as dignified or sage as this. As the comedian reflects on the nature of God, addiction, love and fatherhood (all while being funny) it becomes clear that Vegas is a better man than all of us and we’d all do well to emulate him in every way.

Best track: This Colin Hay track is nice, in a Cat Stevens sort of way.

Weirdest pick: The self-loathing of that Johnny Cash cover isn’t something we’d usually associate with Vegas.

Desert Island Discs guests that will make you wiser 2


Why it’s great: Like stumbling upon an oak-paneled room full of old-world Hollywood types swapping devilish anecdotes between cigar puffs and cognac swigs. Huston, who had one of those pre-First World War upbringings that involve riding horses and boxing, also sounds uncannily like Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood. That alone is reason enough to listen.

Best track: Maxine Sullivan’s strangely satisfying, jazzy reworking of Scottish folk standard Loch Lomond.

Weirdest pick: A recording of his own father sort of reading out the lyrics to Kurt Weill’s September Song.

Desert Island Discs guests that will make you wiser 3

Chris Packham

Why it’s great: The programme on which the Springwatch presenter outed himself as a misanthrope. The thing about Packham (as evinced by this) is that he’s crossed the Wildlife Presenter Rubicon and now understands the natural world to such an extent that he cannot help but see humanity as anything other than a revolting pestilence. Packham values the “pure” relationship he has with animals over those he has with people, and never wants to have children. Real talk.

Best track: Girlfriend in a Coma by The Smiths is a good song.

Weirdest pick: An album track by a punk band we’d never heard of.

Desert Island Discs guests that will make you wiser 4

Michael Caine

Why it’s great: A rare example of a Very Famous Individual whose actual personality seems to sync up nicely with his on-screen persona – in this case a well-dressed, bluffer-than-thou, pub-inhabiting bloke. The music, by and large, is trash (“I’ve always been a big disco fan”) but that’s made up for by a bizarre, halting conversation between Caine and Kirsty Young about ecstasy comedowns.

Best track: Ugh. That John Lennon Christmas song. Best of a bad bunch.

Weirdest pick: Uh… all the Ibiza Chillout ’98 stuff. Such as this. Step away from the CoolMobile, Mr Caine, you’re not licensed to drive that thing!

Desert Island Discs guests that will make you wiser


Why it’s great: Because the reminiscences of a highly decorated Premier League footballer aren’t where you’d necessarily expect to find gruesome anecdotes about mind-crushing depression (see also: marmalade magnate Monty Don). Adams speaks engagingly and candidly about the psychological depths he privately sank to while scaling Olympian heights on the pitch.

Best track: Dreamy jazz skeleton Chet Baker’s opiate-addled rendition of I’ve Never Been In Love Before.

Weirdest pick: Good Old Arsenal, featuring the 1971 Gunners squad bellowing over what sounds like the soundtrack to a racy game show.

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