Destination / In Residence

Why Desert Island Discs is the best isolation podcast

Desert Island Discs best isolation podcast Ryan Brabazon

A podcast that celebrates solitude - providing audible tool kits for quarantine - BBC's Desert Island Discs feels custom made for this moment. Actually, the radio series that lends content to the podcast was launched in 1942. But that simply allows for a wider spread of wisdom - from Sir David Attenborough to Thom Yorke. It's been called the greatest radio show of all time. And in my eyes, it's undeniably the best podcast for isolation. Or any time you want to be inspired.

For those not in the know, Desert Island Discs asks prominent guests to imagine being cast away on a proverbial desert island. They can choose eight songs (played over the course of the show), a book, and a luxury item to take with them. Between tracks, the hosts gauge intimate details on their early lives, careers and origins of their creativity.

Even the most successful people started from the bottom, battled with the expectations of their parents, and (á la Vivienne Westwood) had trouble balancing work with dating.

For anyone looking to relaunch their careers according to their passion on the other side of our current situation, this is also invaluable insight.

While quarantine restrictions are easing in Australia, we're still spending more time at home. Sometimes by choice. Incidentally, this is the ideal backing track for your wardrobe reorganisation - and feeding your mind in the process. (These are my weekend plans.)

While an exhaustive list will require further research (almost 80 years' worth), below are some episodes that have been getting me through weekends in isolation. And make cleaning the house an activity I look forward to.

Tracey Emin

Tracey Emin has had a fascinating life - and good taste in music (Donna Summer, Bowie). This interview gives profound insight into the reason she creates (perhaps why all of us do). "While I'm making art and I'm communicating I'm not alone and that's what's important."

Dr Jane Goodall

The famous primatologist gives insight into her love life, her (wonderful) relationship with her mother, overcoming sexism and the times when she was truly terrified. The result is warming insight into the human life behind the icon.

Ricky Gervais

People either love or hate Gervais, but this is a great interview. Here he speaks to Sue Lawley about imposter syndrome, growing up working class and the want to leave a legacy to justify a creative career.

Anthony Storr

This psychiatrist whose research includes the impact of music on the mind has fascinating insight into humans' relationship with solitude. And whether we could actually survive isolation on a desert island. His accent was also very entertaining to me.

Rick Stein

Listen ... I love Rick Stein. And I love a good origin story. Did you know he started his first restaurant after his original passion project - a disco - was shut down by police? Listen on.

Vivienne Westwood

On her desire for an interesting life, the importance of art, her views on love, and the friends she can't live without.

Marianne Faithfull

Musician and 60s icon Marianne Faithfull has been through a lot. Yet the way she speaks about he life is honest, calm and empathetic. I enjoyed the descriptions of her blasting the Stones at 3am at her house by the ocean.