Desert Island Discs named greatest radio programme of all time

The programme topped a Radio Times poll.

Lauren Laverne on the red carpet
Lauren Laverne on the red carpet

Desert Island Discs has been named the greatest radio programme of all time in a new poll.

The Radio 4 programme, in which castaway guests share the soundtrack of their lives, beat shows such as The Archers and Round The Horne to top the Radio Times list.

It was picked by a panel of industry experts including Cerys Matthews, Justin Webb, Adrian Chiles, Caroline Wyatt, Sara Cox, Gillian Reynolds, Petroc Trelawny, Shaun Keaveny and Sue MacGregor.

Desert Island Discs has been broadcast since 1942, and is currently presented by Lauren Laverne.

The UK’s longest running radio drama, Radio 4’s The Archers, which has been detailing the ups and downs of Ambridge life since 1951, came second in the list.

Legendary radio comedy Round The Horne (1965-8), which featured Kenneth Horne in the lead role, alongside Kenneth Williams, Betty Mardsen and Hugh Paddick, was third.

Tony Hancock’s classic Hancock’s Half Hour (1954-9) was fourth in the list and Radio 4’s In The Psychiatrist’s Chair (1982-2001) was fifth.

Wake Up to Wogan, which ran for over 25 years until 2009, was the highest placed, and only, Radio 2 programme on the list in 12th position, just pipping John Peel’s influential Radio 1 programme (1967-2004) into 13th place.

Sir Terry Wogan
Sir Terry Wogan (PA)

Desert Island Discs producer Cathy Drysdale said: “It’s certainly wonderful for the programme.

“It’s an absolutely genius format.

“The format makes sure that each programme gets to the heart of people, what moves them and motivates them, what inspires them and enthuses them, who and what they care about.

“Those are all such incredibly human things that are applicable to absolutely everybody listening.”

Radio Times editor Mark Frith said: “With listener figures at over one billion hours a week, the UK’s love of radio shows no sign of abating, and this poll illustrates how memorable and timeless great radio can be.

“Many of the programmes have been broadcast for many years, if not decades, and have become the fabric of our lives, and others, are iconic classics which continue to inspire broadcasters of today.

“Desert Island Discs is a deserved winner, with a back catalogue which reflects our cultural history and still remains as relevant, entertaining and insightful as it ever was.”

The full top 30 programmes is revealed in the new issue of Radio Times, with almost a third of the top programme being comedies or panel shows, many of which went on to become television programmes.

This week’s Radio Times is out on Tuesday.

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