Back on the 4th June 1956, Roy Plomley's castaway on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs radio show was none other than Stirling. Sadly a tape of the show does not exist, however his song choices do.
The concept for the radio show, for readers outside the United Kingdom, which was first broadcast on 29th January 1942 and remains one of the longest-running radio programme’s in the world, still aired on BBC Radio 4, is as follows.
Guests are invited to imagine themselves cast away on a desert island, and to choose eight pieces of music, originally gramophone records, to take with them. The discussion around their choices of music allows the presenter to interview the guest about their life. Excerpts from their choices are played or, in the case of short pieces, the whole work or song.
At the end of the programme the guest chooses the one piece they regard most highly and explains why. They are then asked which book they would take with them, alongside the Complete Works of Shakespeare, which they are automatically given and either the Bible or another appropriate religious or philosophical work.
Guests are also allowed to choose one luxury, which must be inanimate and of no use in escaping the island or allowing communication from outside. The devisor and original presenter of the programme, Roy Plomley, enforced the rules strictly. Examples of luxuries have included champagne and a piano, the latter of which is one of the most requested items.
Below is the list of eight song choices Stirling made for his broadcast as well as his rather unique take on the luxury item.
1. Artist: Dave King – Song: Memories Are Made of This
2. Artist: The Joe Daniels Jazz Group – Song: The Charleston
3. Artist: Nat King Cole – Song: Unforgettable
4. Artist: Soloist: Olga James/Harry Belafonte – Song: You Talk Jus' Like My Man by Georges Bizet/Hammerstein
5. Artist: Frank Sinatra – Song: The Tender Tap
6. Artist: Lorrae Desmond – Song: Hold My Hand
7. Artist: Glenn Miller & His Orchestra – Song: A String of Pearls
8. Artist: Eartha Kitt – Song: Let's Do It
For his luxury item Stirling chose hair restorer!
To celebrate the history of the show, a new book will be published in mid-September, titled Desert Island Discs - 70 Years of Castaways, written by Steve Magee, which chronicles the story of one of BBC Radio 4's favourite programmes through a special selection of castaways, including Stirling, with a foreword by the current presenter Kirsty Young.