Leading article: Easy listening

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The Independent Online

What honour could be more satisfying than an appearance on Desert Island Discs? To be invited proves that you are a person of significance. And it panders to the strange hankering that has lurked in the British subconscious at least since the time of Daniel Defoe to get away from urban civilisation and to live alone in a tropical paradise. Plus it invites you to choose and hear your eight favourite tracks.

Not many of us would be as egotistic as the great diva Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, who back in 1958 selected seven of her own recordings. Nor would we necessarily expect the level of politeness shown to Diana Mosley who, after she had denied that six million Jews died in the Holocaust, was asked: "Tell us about your fifth record, Lady Mosley." But we would hope for a more charming welcome than Gordon Brown's when he was told by Sue Lawley: "People want to know whether you're gay or whether there's some flaw in your personality."

Hundreds upon hundreds of establishment figures have had their moments of self-revelation on this programme, which has been around in its unchanging format for longer than most of us have been alive. Now the BBC is allowing public access to the Desert Island Discs archive. Listen and enjoy.