Ella Fitzgerald, Sidney Bechet, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Michael McDonald, The Rolling Stones and Alejandro Sanz were some of David Beckham’s unexpected picks as he joined a select group when he appeared as host Kirsty Young’s castaway on Desert Island Disc’s 75th anniversary broadcast on Sunday (29 January).
Wife and pop star-turned-fashion designer, Victoria’s Spice Girls’ Wannabe (and his son Cruz’s charity single, I wish everyday was Christmas) failed to make it into his eight choices, and he admits: “I might get into trouble for that.” Oh, and forget all that nonsense about the so-called Brand Beckham. He rubbishes claims his marriage was built on a tacit commercial agreement. The father-of-four who lives in west London’s Holland Park says: “People have talked about ‘do we stay together because it’s a brand?’ Of course not.
“We stay together because we love each other. We stay together because we have four amazing children.” He told presenter Young: “We’re a strong family unit. We’ve got strong parents, we were brought up with the right values.
“Of course you make mistakes over the years. We all know marriage is difficult at times, and it’s about working through it.
“Of course you go through tough times, but we’re very respectful of our life, and when we do go through tough times we work through them as a family, as a unit,” he said.
The former England captain revealed that when the couple first got together, they would spend their dates sat in Harvester restaurant car parks in his souped-up blue BMW, “and we just used to kiss and spend time together”.
Designer Boots Collection
Fashion and cultural icon, Beckham confessed his 1,000-football boot habit would probably rival wife Victoria’s shoe collection. The man who gave us the sarong, the mohican and the corn-row also regretted some of his well-documented catalogue of fashion faux pas. But it all goes back to his boyhood, he recalls being asked to be a pageboy at a wedding, aged six. The choice was a sensible suit, or burgundy velvet knickerbockers, tights and white ballet shoes. Guess which he chose? “And I felt great,” he said about his choice. But his father was incredulous: “Really that’s what you picked?
“I’m sure my mum has got that outfit at home,” he says.
He betrayed his soft spot for his last child, Harper to whom he dedicated Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s duet The girl is mine. He confessed he got emotional listening to the song as he changed nappies, blew raspberries and jigged from side to side with his newborn daughter.
Beckham’s song choices also included Something About The Way You Look Tonight by Sir Elton John who had been billed to perform at their 1999 wedding but cancelled due to a heart attack.
“We became friends with Elton, and he was coming to the wedding to perform this song,” he explained.
“We had a phone call that morning to say unfortunately Elton was on the plane and had a heart attack.
“Obviously we were more worried about his health and how he was but we christened the kids a couple of years after that, and he came and performed this song in our house, and it’s a very special song for us.”
All that Jazz
Kicking off with Ella Fitzgerald’s timeless hit Every Time We Say Goodbye — which he also said was the one song of all his choices he would rescue from the waves — must have wrong-footed many listeners while a track from Spanish singer-songwriter Alejandro Sanz evoked his stint with Real Madrid, and a reflective instrumental by jazz composer and clarinetist — who had also been based in Paris — Sidney Bechet reminded him of the city of light, where he ended his professional playing career with Paris Saint Germain.
As his luxury item, Beckham chose his England caps from his international football career which he now keeps at home in Holland Park.
“I knew that my Dad would be proud of my achievements, but the only time my dad turned round to me and said: ‘You know what son you’ve done really well’, was when I got my 100th cap for England,” Beckham said.
The book he would take with him was On Fire by Francis Mallmann – an outdoor cooking book which he said would be useful on a desert island. “I’ll be able to rustle up anything.”
Becks’ Desert Island Discs
Every Time We Say Goodbye, Ella Fitzgerald
What A Fool Believes, Michael McDonald
I am the resurrection, The Stone Roses
Something About The Way You Look Tonight, Sir Elton John
No es lo mismo, Alejandro Sanz
Wild Horses, The Rolling Stones
The Girl Is Mine, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney
Si tu vois ma mère, Sidney Bechet
Since it was first broadcast on 29th January 1942, the programme devised by Roy Plomley has invited over 3,000 guests to talk about their lives and choose eight tracks, a book and a luxury item that they would take with them to a desert island. The Beckham episode paid homage to the occasion by re-introducing the sound of sea wash to the opening and closing of the programme for the first time since the 1960s.
From the Archives
The programme which teases personal tit-bits from guests has broken some big stories over the years with late Cilla Black talking about her early career, singing with The Beatles, and how a misprint in a magazine led to her changing her name, to Richard Dimbleby recalling being one of the first war correspondents to visit Hitler’s bunker after his death and taking from it an engraved cutlery set.
Radio 4 Extra will also bring listeners a run of some of the most notable episodes from across the decades in Desert Island Discs Revisited, starting with conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent on 29 January at 10.15am. In addition, Desert Island Discs will continue its anniversary celebrations this year by making extended versions of some of the biggest interviews, which will be added to the online archive and available to download.
Off-air, the anniversary will be honoured with a desert island sand sculpture outside BBC Broadcasting House in the West End. Hidden within the design – ready to be spotted by members of the public – will be some of the luxury items castaways have chosen over the years. Over the anniversary weekend, Radio 4 listeners will also be invited to join the celebrations on social media by sharing their favourite moments from Desert Island Discs using the hashtag #DIDat75.
The celebrated format created byPlomley, who hosted the show until 1985, after which it was presented by Michael Parkinson until 1988 and Sue Lawley until 2006. Today, in the hands of current presenter Kirsty Young, the show continues its reign as one of BBC Radio’s most loved programmes with a weekly on air audience of 2.8 million. Desert Island Discs is also available as a podcast with iTunes and an extensive archive is available online, with episodes dating back to the 1950s available to listen and download.
David Beckham was Kirsty Young’s castaway on Sunday 29 January on BBC Radio 4. An extended edition of the interview will be available online and to download as a podcast after transmission.