Beethoven, Elgar, Rachmaninoff are favourite choices of castaways

Updated: Mar 31, 2011, 15:14 PM IST

London: It seems that classical music provides the best comfort when marooned on a desert island, with most people opting for Beethoven, Elgar and Rachmaninoff.

The eight most popular songs chosen by castaways since Desert Island Discs began 69 years ago are all classical pieces.

Beethoven’s ``Ode To Joy``, from his ``Symphony No 9``, has been the most selected tune in the show’s history, featuring in 717 programmes over the years.

Two more of his compositions feature in the top eight, while works by Elgar, Rachmaninoff and Schubert make up the rest of the most popular selections by guests appearing on the hugely popular Radio 4 show.

Originally presented by Roy Plomley, who hosted the first show in 1942, Desert Island Discs is one of the most popular programmes on BBC radio.

On the programme, guests choose eight songs, a book and a luxury item that they would take with them if marooned for the rest of their life alone on a desert island.

The BBC opened up its Desert Island Disc archive online and on the radio - so listeners can access almost 70 years of material.

Researchers found that classical music outstripped pop over seven decades of interviews with high profile names from across politics, show business, science and sport.

Surprisingly, while the works of Mozart were revealed to be the most popular among guests - his compositions were chosen 993 times by the 2,800 people that have appeared on the show so far - no single piece made it into the top eight.

The Beatles are by far the best loved pop band to have featured on the programme, with songs by the group selected 256 times in almost seven decades.

The archive also shows John Lennon’s music was chosen 34 times, while Sir Paul McCartney’s have featured just six times.

Fans will be able to download more than 500 recent episodes from the new look Desert Island Discs website including Morrissey, Tony Blair and George Clooney.

The website will eventually list the records, books and luxury items chosen for the imaginary desert island stay by every guest in its history. Vintage editions will also be aired on digital station Radio 4 Extra, which is due to replace Radio 7 in April.

"Everyone has the chance get their hands on the Desert Island Discs archive and hear the music, book, luxury and lives of hundreds of castaways from programmes gone by," the Daily Mail quoted Kirsty Young, who is the main presenter of the show, as saying.

ANI