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.