Friday, 10 June 2011

What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid

Programme commissioners for TV and Radio have a difficult job don't they?

When ideas are pitched for new programmes it's very difficult to make an accurate estimate of their future success, which partly explains the large quantity of "genre TV" on our screens these days where a proven success is given a slight twist to reduce the risk of failure. Look out for "The Apprentice on Ice" or "The Only Way is Norfolk" coming to a screen near you soon.

It makes it all the more remarkable to think that a programme conceived in Wartime London in 1941 was first broadcast in January 1942 and is still going strong today. Yes it was Roy Plomley-Voice who claimed that the idea came to him is his pyjamas. The programme is of course Desert Island Discs which now has a brilliant archive of all the details from 2856 episodes available online for you to poke around with here.

The links are really interesting as you can look at any guest's individual selections and see which other guests chose the same. This can of course be off-putting, such as finding that only 3 people selected the great Nick Drake and two of them are complete arses.

The idea that a simple idea involving people picking 8 "Gramaphone" records should have survived nearly 60 years is remarkable and is in no small part due to the excellent choice of Kirsty Young for presenter number 4 in 2006 and the general trend to make it less Radio Three (although virtually all the all-time popular picks are classical).


It's not about the "Gramaphone Records" of course but much more about using music as a side-entry soundtrack to people's life stories. The least interesting guests are probably the Politicians, as you can almost hear the backroom wonks drawing up their lists for them as they refer to demographic tables of target groups ("Alan Johnson chose Bowie, Nick, so we'll need one of those to check Dave's Radiohead...zzz").

The concept of the list is the other appeal. In 2011 any Westerner washing up on a small island would likely have 22,500 mp3 music files on their phone, but the idea of prioritizing or distilling the soundtrack to one's life in just 8 choices must be something that we all do from time to time? Surely? Perhaps it's just a blokey thing.

Anyway the Official DID site where you can enter your own wish list has closed but the kind Mr Soaring has come up with a dedicated Blog where you can have a go at your own choices in the comments.

It's here.

23 comments:

Dave said...

Oddly, I have just 8 music tracks downloaded to my 'phone, mainly for use as ringtones.

They include Blondie ('Call Me') and Booker T. & the M.G.'s ('Soul Limbo' - TMS theme music).

Fortunately the battery on my 'phone would be dead within a couple of days (assuming I switched it on) so I wouldn't have time to be driven mad by the limited repertoire.

Tim said...

Thank you, Rog, for enabling me to waste yet another afternoon.

Rog said...

Dave: I bet you've felt tempted to pull that phone out in the middle of sermons to demonstrate "Call Me" if you're in "Soul Limbo"? Surely? OK thought not.

Tim: It's dress-down Man-Flu-Friday in this neck of Blogland.

Mark said...

Not getting on Desert Island Discs is the only sensible reason for regretting not being famous.

Tim Footman said...

Nick Hornby actually chose an MP3 players as his luxury. Which was cheeky.

Rog said...

Mark: That's true. Apart from the money, the adulation, the features in "Hello"....er....

Tim: Plomley used to be much more rigorous and officious about the choices - you couldn't have a Grand Piano in his day as you could make a boat out of it. apparently.

Sarah said...

Gosh it's more difficult than it seems ! I have it down to about 65....maybe my solitary trip,on an island starting next week, will help!...will let you know on my return.

Rog said...

Sarah: That sounds very adventurous. You can treat this as your homework and it will be marked on your return. I wonder if there will be any Rod Stewart tracks?

Z said...

And you could sleep under a grand piano before launching it.

It's always been the single book (as well as the Bible and Shakespeare) that has exercised my mind even more than the music. How to choose? Eight would be bad enough.

Dave said...

I always thought the Shakespeare would be useful for starting fires, and I'd ask for Ray Meare's book of survival techniques please.

Z said...

How interesting, I'd have thought that you would have appreciated Shakespeare, Dave. I'm afraid that some sections of the Bible might remain unread so could be used as kindling.

A friend of mine used a Ray Meare technique when she broke her leg miles from anywhere in Sri Lanka and had to trek for 2 days on foot.

Rog said...

Dave & Z: I've just checked - nobody has been sensible enough to request a Ray Mears book. I'd go for Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse. I don't know how you can even discuss bible burning after all the media fuss. It's like kindling spirits. Nobody from Gravesend had a kind word to say about Shakespeare. We were the so solid Dickens crew down there.

Rog said...

I've just checked - nobody ever chose Keith Waterhouse. But Keith himself chose as his book in 1983 "A Year's supply of Exchange and Mart". Brilliant!

Z said...

Not in a protest, of course. I'd read quite a bit of it. But burning Shakespeare? Philistines!

I'd take Saki's short stories.

Martin H. said...

Well, I've done the deed, in haste. I'd probably take something by Waterhouse, Laurie Lee or a reputable pharmaceutical company.

Nota Bene said...

Ah so the reason I've not yet made DID is because of my difficulty in getting together a list of eight songs...if only I had some lackey to do it for me

Christopher said...

Choices would be so much easier if the programme in question was called Dessert Island Discs, 'discs' in this instance simply meaning large plates.

Annie said...

I think it is a blokey thing, the thought of choosing only 8 & sticking with that choice, as if it summed up your life & tastes forever, makes me panic. I do love the programme though.

Christopher, that is a GENIUS idea, you should email radio 4.

Rog said...

Z: I've always been a bit of a Saki so and so myself.

Martin: Or Stuart Maconie's "Cider with Roadies"!

Nota: You obviously need more staff.

Christopher: I agree with Annie - genius idea! Having once seen your legendary pudding-prowess at first hand I can understand your enthusiasm. Not a man to trifle with.

Annie: Who said you have to stick with it? We blokes hone our lists weekly to accommodate the changing rythmn of life. I bet Tim Footman does his every day.

Mike and Ann said...

My book would probably be Parson Woodford's Diary. Gentle stuff and dipintoable. (And Norfolk Rog!)

Rog said...

Mike & Ann: Norfolk? Everyday life in Somerset! Reminded me of "Diary of a Nobody" - wonderful gentle satire.
I also read Parson East's everyday diary of East Anglian life.

Dave said...

I base myself on Diary of a Nobody.

Rog said...

You spend too much time with that Pooter Dave!