After hosting Desert Island Discs for 10 years, it’s no wonder that host Kirsty Young finds it difficult to pick out her favourite guests.
“It wouldn’t be fair,” says the presenter of the iconic Radio 4 programme, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this week. But after a short pause, she’s soon recounting her most memorable castaways.
“Victoria Wood. That was an absolute thrill. Dustin Hoffman, of course. Zaha Hadid was remarkable,” reveals Young in the new issue of Radio Times. “And Bruce Springsteen, what a delight! Steve McQueen’s absolutely enthralling and AC Grayling – well, I mean, what a brain to be allowed to pick for 45 minutes.”
Isn’t she forgetting someone?
“Bloody hell, David Attenborough!” she exclaims. “Oh my God! I mean, if I only ever did one, it would be that one. Honestly, he was a total, pure delight. Absolutely bloody marvelous. But that’s the thing about David – you can’t help falling just a little bit in love with him.”
The East Kilbridian also added: “Not everyone is going to be an absolute belter and sometimes a guest is a bit more of a grumpy b*****d than I thought they would be.”
The 48-year-old former 5 News presenter took over the helm of Desert Island Discs in 2006, following in the incredibly large footsteps of Sue Lawley who had been the host of the programme for 18 years.
“I don’t scare easily,” she admits. “But I was nervous. I thought it would take a few weeks, but it took a year before I felt like I was wearing my own shoes rather than someone else’s.”
One of the ways in which Young makes her diverse roll call of guests feel at ease is by sartorially emulating them.
“I try and make my castaway at ease,” she reveals. “Once people relax, they’re more likely to open up. Bill Gates always wears an open-neck shirt so I wore an open-neck silk ladies’ shirt. For Paul Weller I wore a sharp suit.
“And we had it on good authority that Morrissey drinks neat vodka, so we made sure we had a bottle. When my producer said, ‘Would you like some tea or coffee… or vodka?’ Morrissey said, ‘Vodka’. I had one as well. I wasn’t going to have a cup of tea when Morrissey was having a vodka. I didn’t drink it, he did.”
Read the full interview with Kirsty Young in the new edition of Radio Times, available in shops and on the newsstand from Tuesday 24th January