A Remarkable Day - Desert Island Discs
At the time of writing this I am less than 24 hours past a remarkable day.
At the time of posting this it has been an agonising 5 week wait to see if maybe they didn’t like me and canned it.
So …I was collected by cab at 10.30 and taken to the wrong building. After a frank exchange of views between the driver and a doorman [which I observed with amusement] we set off again.
Many mobile phone exchanges later and a downward spiral of goodwill from the driver to all mankind, we were flagged down by a very nice woman carrying a rucksack.
“I’m Sue and I know who this man is. Let him out please.”
Sue elegantly cut short what was likely to become a protracted discourse on the fragility of the cab supervisor as a breed and steered me through the glass doors. “I have your pass.”
A crowded lift to the seventh floor, and a maze of security doors, twists and turns and finally a small cramped reception area.
“Hello I’m Cathy. Lovely to meet you Robin”
“Hello, I’m Bob. Lovely to meet you Robin”
“Hi, I’m Kirsty. I’m so glad you are here today. take my arm and we’ll pop next door and have a cup of tea.”
Ten minutes of very pleasant small talk about what we all did for a living and a gentle run through the procedure and what to expect. It all sounded quite straightforward and nothing to fret about.
Cathy: “We play music at the beginning of course Robin, then we’ll start straight away. If you can just move to this side of the room and sit here please. Great.”
Kirsty: “I’ll put a glass of water just here Robin. Give me your hand. There, great. Now I’m going to sit here and we can start if you’re ready. Any questions?”
Robin: “Er, yes. how many times have you done this?”
Kirsty: “Well let me see. I’ve been doing this full time for about 8 years. In that time … hmm … well I’d say over 300 times. Does that sound about right Cathy?”
Cathy: “Yes at least that. I’d say nearer 400 times, and Bob here, who is the technician, has done almost all of them”
Robin: “Wow then this should be pretty run of the mill for you guys .”
They all laugh politely.
So I sit in the chair and try to relax. A very very familiar piece of music starts up from a pair of what sounds like rather nice speakers at the side of the room.
As the music fades, Kirsty’s warm, pleasant Scottish brogue cuts in:
“My castaway this week is the Record Producer Robin Millar”
I tingle from head to foot. Did she really just say that? Is this really the day I’d thought about for 30 years? Is this the reality of what I put down on my first year’s inclusion in Who’s Who under my hobby … “trying to get on Desert Island Discs”
In the end it had just happened. I suspect a mate wrote in and said “”Why don’t you have Robin Millar on your show?
So they did.
Sue called me early December – yes, the very same Sue who saved me from the clutches of Uber rage yesterday.–
“I’m Sue from the BBC and I’m calling to ask if you would take part in a programme”. Well this happens from time to time. Late night magazine shows discussing the best album of the last 20 years or a heated early morning debate about whether singles with sexy lyrics should be banned on radio, or Is being blind as bad as it sounds etc etc.
”What’s the show about?” I asked with only passing interest.
“it’s Desert Island Discs”
“What do you want me to do? That isn’t a phone in.”
“We want you to be on the show Robin as a castaway”
So this was my reaction and this is what I said “Now listen, I know this is a friend winding me up or a friend who’s got you to wind me up and it’s not funny. It’s not funny at all! I don’t like practical jokes and I particularly don’t like this one. I’m serious. Stop this now””
Sue: “No honestly Robin, this isn’t a wind up. Do you want to call me back to show I’m calling from the BBC? We want you as a guest in January”
After that I just babbled … worse than Gwyneth at the Oscars, almost including the tears. Sue was patient. She waited. She waited maybe seven minutes. Maybe more, until I became reasonable.
“I must say this is very rewarding Robin. I’ve never had a guest quite so obviously delighted”
So, of course, I immediately realise I’ve made a total fool of myself and that what people of importance and gravitas invited onto such shows in fact do is say, in a measured and slightly indifferent tone “I’ll need to check my diary to see if I would be available for that.”
Well who cares. She seems nice and she seems genuinely pleased I’m pleased.
“We need your choices handed in by 22 December. I’ll drop you an email. And you mustn’t tell anyone your choices before the show goes on air. Cheerio then.
”That was less than 3 weeks away. Shit! No sleep. Exzema. Headaches. Irritability. A hundred short lists then a hundred long lists then forays into philosophy, social science, meditation and The History Of Music in 6 Volumes. I handed in the choice with a day to spare. I’m really really happy with it. There is a BBC death squad with a Range Rover with blacked out windows whose only job is to take out castaways who reveal even one of their choices before the show goes on air. Sorry about that but I still like life. I really enjoyed the recording. They record twice as much as they put out … so I don’t have any idea what they will keep and what they will bin. So I’m afraid it’s too bad if I didn’t mention you or if I did … not my choice. Suffice to say to anyone reading this of course I praised you to the nth degree, they just cut it out.
And now it’s done. The recording is in the can. The show will air at 11.15am BBC Radio 4 on Sunday March 15th at 11.15am. It’s repeated the following Friday at 9am then up on the BBC archive forever!
And for once I can honestly say “and the rest is history”.