Kirsty Young's castaway is the actress Liz Smith. Her story is a triumph of talent and perseverance over circumstance. Her mother died when she was tiny, her father walked out of her life and for many years she was brought up by her grandmother who was in mourning for her only child and her own husband. For Liz, acting and making people laugh was an escape from the often harsh realities of life, but she had to wait until she was 50 for her first real break - a role in Mike Leigh's film Bleak Moments. By that time, she'd raised her two children on her own with very little money and knew that this was her opportunity to prove what she could do. She won critical acclaim and was later awarded a Bafta for her appearance in Alan Bennett's A Private Function and finally, when she was in her 70s, she became a household name through her roles in The Vicar of Dibley and The Royle Family. Liz Smith recorded this programme in 2008, when she was 86 years old. Favourite track: Only The Lonely by Roy Orbison Book: A very large catalogue Luxury: A complete artist's set.
Roy Plomley's castaway is the Monty Python comedian Terry Jones, in a programme first broadcast in 1983. Terry Jones died in January 2020, at the age of 77.
Wendy Cope is one of England’s most popular and widely-read contemporary poets. Wendy was born in Erith, Kent. Her father was 29 years older than her mother and she was sent to boarding school at the age of seven. Although English was her favourite subject at school, in a bid to defy her English teacher’s expectations, she read history at Oxford. Following graduation she became a primary school teacher. After the death of her father in 1971, Wendy entered psychoanalysis in 1973 and turned to writing poetry. Having attended evening classes in creative writing, one of her poems was published in a collection which brought her to the attention of Faber and Faber. Her first volume of poetry, Making Cocoa For Kingsley Amis, was published in 1986, and became an instant success, and she gave up teaching to become a full time writer. She has since published four volumes of a poetry: Serious Concerns (1992), If I Don’t Know (2001), Family Values (2011) and Anecdotal Evidence (2018) as well as two volumes for children, Twiddling Your Thumbs (1988) and The River Girl (1991). In 2011, Wendy sold her entire personal archive to the British Library, which consisted of 15 boxes of manuscript, including several unpublished early works. Wendy lives in Ely and is married to fellow poet, Lachlan Mackinnon. Presenter: Lauren Laverne Producer: Cathy Drysdale Show less
Maria Balshaw is the Director of Tate, overseeing four major art galleries: Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, Tate Modern and Tate St Ives. Maria was born in 1970 in Birmingham, and grew up in Northampton, where her father, Walter, was a parks officer, and her mother, Colette, was a teacher. She read English and Cultural Studies at the University of Liverpool and fell in love with the newly opened Tate Liverpool at Albert Dock. After working as an academic for almost a decade, she changed career and headed a government campaign to inspire creativity in schools. In 2006, she became director of the Whitworth gallery in Manchester, where she promoted works by women artists and oversaw a major redevelopment and expansion of the building. The Whitworth won the Art Fund Museum of the Year award in 2015. Maria also took on the roles of Director of Manchester City Galleries, and Director of Culture for Manchester City Council. The Observer called her “a northern powerhouse in her own right”. She took over leadership of the four Tate galleries from Sir Nicholas Serota in June 2017, and is the first woman to hold this role. Maria has two children from her first marriage and lives in Kent and London with her second husband, Nick Merriman, Director of the Horniman Museum. DISC ONE: Ghost Town by The Specials DISC TWO: Wild is the Wind by David Bowie DISC THREE: It's a Sin by Pet Shop Boys DISC FOUR: Love Hurts by Emmylou Harris with Gram Parsons DISC FIVE: Hope There's Someone by Antony and the Johnsons DISC SIX: Cantelowes by Toumani Diabaté DISC SEVEN: Waiting for the Great Leap Forward by Billy Bragg DISC EIGHT: Crown by Stormzy BOOK CHOICE: Vickery’s Folk Flora: an A-Z of the Folklore and Uses of British and Irish Plants by Roy Vickery LUXURY ITEM: A full set of flower and vegetable seeds CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Waiting for the Great Leap Forward by Billy Bragg Presenter: Lauren Laverne Producer: Cathy Drysdale