Is Lauren Laverne the right host for BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs?
By Daniel J. McLaughlin
Desert Island Discs' premise is simple but brilliant: castaways have to choose eight records, a book (along with the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare), and a luxury item they would take if they were stranded on a desert island.
It has been on the airwaves for 77 years, and it is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 every Sunday morning.
Lauren Laverne has been sending her guests to the desert island since 2017, but not everyone is a fan of the BBC radio presenter.
She has been attacked by The Spectator, calling her "lightweight and uncerebral" and the wrong choice for the job.
However, she has received a wave of support from her fans in light of the criticism.
Melanie McDonagh argues that BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs has "completely lost the plot".
In a piece for The Spectator, she says that the BBC needs to pick the best person for the job - and Laverne is not that person.
She writes: "She runs Kathy Clugston of Gardeners’ Question Time close as the worst appointment Radio 4 has made in its apparent effort to alienate its listeners...
"There’s no getting away from it: Lauren is lightweight and uncerebral. Her capacity to come up with the forgettable phrase is quite something."
McDonagh says that Laverne is northern and "patently nice", and therefore is not a common type of Radio 4.
She claims that the show has become "more politically correct" during her tenure.
Laverne has thanked fans for a flood of support after the criticism by McDonagh.
In a series of tweets, the BBC Radio presenter said she hopes she can live up to their kind words.
She said: "Today has been an entirely unexpected inventory of who is in my corner. I have to say I couldn’t be happier. In fact it’s been the best day in ages.
"Isn’t it funny how it goes that way sometimes? Thanks very much to everyone who has been so kind."
Laverne added: "My kids have chosen this weekend’s activity, so - in this weather - we are at a theme park. Just came back to check Twitter while watching the bags as they scream their heads off on a rollercoaster. The wave of messages is as surreal as it is wonderful.
"As a seasoned festival goer I’ve had many surreal experiences while wearing a kagoule but this is a new PB [personal best]. Thank you all so much for your kind words. I hope to live up to them."
Laverne began hosting Desert Island Discs when Kirsty Young took a leave of absence in 2017 due to illness.
In July, it was announced that Young, who had presented the show for 12 years, would not be returning - and Laverne would stay in the presenting chair "for the foreseeable future".
As well as sending castaways to the desert island on Sunday mornings, she also hosts BBC Radio 6's breakfast show and the Late Night Woman’s Hour on Radio 4.
Desert Island Discs is one of the longest-running radio shows. More than 3,000 episodes have been recorded since its first broadcast on January 29, 1942.
It was created and presented by Roy Plomley, who was at the helm between 1942 and 1985. He was succeeded by Michael Parkinson, who hosted the show for three years. Sue Lawley presented Desert Island Discs between 1988 and 2006, and she was replaced by Young.