Vaughan Williams wins first 'Desert Island Discs' vote

'The Lark Ascending' tops poll of 25,000 would-be castaways for special edition of Radio 4 show

Choosing your Desert Island Discs has long been a celebrity rite of passage, a privilege reserved for the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Vera Lynn or Margaret Thatcher. Until now.

This weekend, in an open vote, members of the public were allowed to give their verdict on the eight discs they would chose as castaways. Ralph Vaughan Williams's The Lark Ascending was chosen in a special edition of the BBC Radio 4 programme yesterday as the track Britons would most like to take to the fictional remote island.

Unlike the celebrity guests' top eight, revealed earlier this month, which were all classical tracks, the public's choices were more eclectic, with rockers Pink Floyd making it to number five with "Comfortably Numb". There were, though, some similarities, with Elgar and Vaughan Williams featuring in both charts.

Commenting on the choices, presenter Kirsty Young remarked: "The choices of listeners do chime with the choices of castaways. They're reflective. They're not what I'd call jolly."

Elgar's "Enigma Variations" was second choice, followed by Beethoven's Symphony No 9 in D minor: Choral. The choral piece has been the most popular choice by castaways on the show after being chosen by 97 of them, including Martin Sheen and Paulo Coelho, but was ranked only third by listeners. Meanwhile, Edith Piaf's "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien", which was the most popular non-classical track of castaways, did not even make the public's top eight.

More than 25,000 people submitted nearly 250,000 tracks to the Radio 4 website after they were invited to follow in the footsteps of celebrities and choose the eight discs they would take to a desert island. The entries included everything from spoken word to rap, jazz, opera and pop.

Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" came in fourth, followed by "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd, Sir Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto in E minor, George Frideric Handel's The Messiah and Gustav Holst's The Planets.

Music critic Miranda Sawyer, a guest on the show, was heard sniggering at the choice of Pink Floyd. Referring to the track's length – more than six minutes – she said: "I think it was slightly chosen for value for money... you get a lot for your bucks here. I have to say it leaves me unmoved."

Six of the top eight were from English artists (plus the "German-British" Handel), despite there being no stipulation on nationality. Another of the show's guests, presenter Paul Gambaccini, remarked that "the voters are obviously not black" thanks to the lack of black artists in the top eight. Kirsty Young responded: "This is a slice of Radio 4 listeners and we can see that."

The Beatles were the most commonly chosen artist or group, followed by Bob Dylan, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Pink Floyd, J S Bach, The Rolling Stones and Sir Edward Elgar.

The most popular aria was Puccini's "Nessun Dorma" from Turandot followed "Au Fond du Temple Saint" from by Georges Bizet's 1863 opera The Pearl Fishers.

The two most popular non-music requests were Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas and a cricket commentary that has become legendary. The "leg over" cricket commentary features Jonathan Agnew and Brian Johnston breaking down in laughter after "Aggers" described how Ian Botham had knocked over his stumps.

"One Day Like This", by Elbow, was the most popular piece of music from the last decade. The programme has been on air since 1942, making it the longest-running factual show in the history of radio.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This publishing company based i...

Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Publishing

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Guru Careers: Report Writer / Reporting Analyst

£25 - 30k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Report Writer / Reporting Analyst is nee...

Guru Careers: German Speaking Account Manager / Account Executive

£24-30K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A German speaking Account Manager ...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...