Kate Chisholm

Limited vision

It must be a fix, surely? The list of tunes voted online ‘by the nation’ as the eight favourite ‘discs’ we would like to be marooned with on a desert island is the dullest, most unoriginal, least controversial combination we listeners could possibly have come up with.

It must be a fix, surely? The list of tunes voted online ‘by the nation’ as the eight favourite ‘discs’ we would like to be marooned with on a desert island is the dullest, most unoriginal, least controversial combination we listeners could possibly have come up with.

It must be a fix, surely? The list of tunes voted online ‘by the nation’ as the eight favourite ‘discs’ we would like to be marooned with on a desert island is the dullest, most unoriginal, least controversial combination we listeners could possibly have come up with. The organisers of the poll as they studied its results must have been rueing the meeting when they came up with the idea of turning Desert Island Discs into an internet quiz. If the list is a reflection of Radio 4’s listener profile, then it’s scarcely changed since DID began 60 years ago. Put it another way and it’s a salutary revelation of just how limited the reach of Radio 4 across the country really is.

Vaughan Williams comes out top of the poll with his ‘The Lark Ascending’. It’s a beautiful tune, haunting, pastoral, poignant, but headily nostalgic and quintessentially belonging to the home counties, not even to Britain as a whole. Elgar is voted on twice (for Nimrod and for the Cello Concerto), followed by Holst (The Planets) and Handel (German originally, but claimed by the English as their own), with a touch of Beethoven (the ‘Ode to Joy’). Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and a Pink Floyd number I’d never even heard of, ‘Comfortably Numb’, are the ‘rock’ representatives — classic midlife-crisis choices by suit-and-tie representatives of the middle classes. Where are the ‘foreign’ composers? The bands from Jamaica or Jakarta? The sense of danger, of risk, of stretching the imagination to take in all those World Music artists we are now supposed to be so closely acquainted with?

This poll could be the death-knell of DID; a sign that its days are numbered.

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