It is a romantic gesture that will be heard by millions of radio listeners, but its touching intimacy reduces the pop star Kylie Minogue to tears.
Never before in the 74-year history of Desert Island Discs had a recording been chosen by someone else as a surprise for the “castaway”, according to the BBC. But the Radio 4 programme allowed the Australian star to delegate the responsibility for one track to her new boyfriend, the British actor Joshua Sasse.
Avoiding the potential pitfalls, the 28-year-old, who met Minogue, 47, on the set of the American TV comedy-drama Galavant, in which he stars, made an inspired decision: he reads verse by his late father, the romantic poet Dominic Sasse.
Before presenter Kirsty Young plays the mystery recording, Minogue says: “I have a love in my life, which is just a beautiful thing and I’m just kind of on cloud nine most of the time because of Mr Joshua Sasse, my beau.
“The first time we really spoke at length and had a meal, Desert Island Discs came up. He’s a huge fan of the show. And then it was a few weeks later this opportunity came up. I thought, ‘Synchronicity, I have to do this, I have to do this for me and I have to do it for him’.
“I don’t know what he’s done, but I figured if I was a castaway on an island I’d very much like to have a surprise and I’d like to know what someone else thought, particularly my love, what he would think that I would like to hear.
A lesser man might have flattered his famous girlfriend with a track from her own extensive back catalogue – for example, the chirpy early hit “I Should Be So Lucky” or the sexually charged “Spinning Around”. Or he might have sung his own composition – a risky proposition when trying to impress a performer who has amassed global record sales of 80 million.
Instead, in a hushed, intimate voice backed by a simple piano accompaniment, Mr Sasse begins to read lines written by his late father, who was killed in an aeroplane crash in Nepal in 1992 at the age of 37. His obituary in The Independent described him as “one of our most talented romantic poets”.
“Once more reality I must leave to dream, to let time forgive my faults and not forget, as I have not, the sugared moments spent,” his son reads, from As I Look Up.
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“From my dreams I shall rise unsnared, as I look up, there you shall be, my memory enshrined exactly.
“Together we shall taste the enchanted past, like anointed lovers entwined, we shall tread that merry avenue of beeches, the tinsel to shimmer and sway”.
As the poem continues, Minogue is transfixed and clearly emotional. “I’m a mess, oh my goodness,” she says. “I think I stopped breathing for half of that … breathe, Minogue … I have tears, tears of joy just now.”
In contrast to her boyfriend’s emotionally wrought poem, Minogue’s choice of music features upbeat tracks including “Dancing Queen” by Abba and “Need You Tonight” by INXS, the band fronted by her former lover Michael Hutchence.
Her luxury is a family photo album, but her book is decidedly practical – a survival guide by Ray Mears.
Asked what she would save from the waves if all else was lost, she does not hesitate: “As I Look Up, as read by my Joshua Sasse.”
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