Desert Island Discs on iTunes

The BBC Radio 4 long running series Desert Island Discs is now available on the iTunes store.

Each episode can be downloaded as a free podcast. I subscribed to the series and a batch of 100 episodes were downloaded to my iTunes Library dating from August of last year back to 1998.  Desert Island Discs began in 1942 so my mind boggles at how many episodes could become available to download as podcasts.

Former presenter Sue Lawley

I listened to an episode from 1998 with Lucy Gannon interviewed by Sue Lawley.

The podcast itself was prefaced by current presenter Kirsty Young advising that the music chosen will be brief due to rights issues.  This is an understatement as some of the excerpts are no more than 10 seconds long (at least for the pop music the classical music does get a longer airing) which loses the very spirit of the programs I feel.  The Radio 4 program itself always shortens the pieces but that I understand as even with just 8 discs chosen they would be long programs indeed if each piece was played in its entirety.

I understand the reasons here too but the musical choices now feels very cursory.

This series might lend itself better to being hosted on a website with a page for each program and links to all the music chosen so at least a listener can explore and listen further any of the musical selections if they are so inclined.  I am aware of the BBC Radio 4 website dedicated to the program but that provides details of the episodes but no musical content at all.

Current presenter Kirsty Young

I still found the podcasts fascinating listening though as the island castaways are from a wide range of backgrounds and skilfully interviewed by current presenter Kirsty Young and previous presenter Sue Lawley.

There are far too many episodes for me to listen too but I am pleased to have access to them whenever I might feel like listening to an episode from this vast archive.

Just glancing at last year I can see episodes from Mary Portas, Dame Ellen MacArthur and Emma Thompson among many others – I must look away, I don’t have the time!

The Alyona Show – political smarts

This show is no longer on the air.


The Alyona Show is an hour long weekday news and current affairs TV show from the international news network RT (formerly Russia Today).

I live in Scotland and it is broadcast between four and five in the morning – I hope it is broadcast a more social hour where you are?! RT the channel itself is not a mainstream broadcaster in my country either so then we have The Alyona Show hard to find in time and place but well worth your trouble to seek it out.

If though you don’t have TV access to The Alyona Show you can watch clips of it on the program’s RT website page.

The Alyona ShowHosted by Alyona Minkovski and based in Washington DC, USA the shows addresses both domestic and international news items – even the US domestic ones though not always that relevant for me as a viewer in the United Kingdom I can see the issues are being addressed in depth and not beholden to the Republican line as they would be on Fox News or the Democrat line as they would be on MSNBC – rather a more critical line of both parties.

If they are critical of Barack Obama it is not against his progressive agenda but because it is not progressive enough.

It is refreshingly cynical too of Big Business and the Mainstream Media.  A show too that is comfortable with the web rather than the more aloof attitude of much of television news – whose attitude to web journalism is akin to newspaper journalists attitude to them half a century back.

I share much of Alyona Minkovski’s views so am likely to take pleasure in her presentation and interviewing style but I also consider that she puts those views across clearly and unapologetically – it is refreshing to watch a presenter who has passion yet remains clear-headed.

The show is not about Alyona Minkovski alone though – there is an excellent team of contributors as well as an interesting selection of people interviewed.

This is a show I will be making a regular appointment with – even if via my PVR!