Desert Island Discs

BBC Radio 4

Society & Culture, Personal Journals

Chart Positions

Personal Journals 34

Desert Island Discs was created by Roy Plomley in 1942, and the format is simple: a guest is invited by Kirsty Young to choose the eight records they would take with them to a desert island


Jane Somerville

July 7th, 2013

Episode 343 of 566 episodes

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the cardiologist Jane Somerville. Now an Emeritus Professor in her discipline at Imperial College London she's gained a worldwide reputation for her pioneering work on congenital heart disease. She began studying medicine in the early 1950s when only a very few women were admitted through the doors of medical school. Since then she's been responsible for ground-breaking advances in cardiovascular treatment and founded the World Congress of Paediatric Cardiology. She had something of a role model in her mother, a hard-working, clever, successful woman too. Her early years as a pupil at a boys' school in Wales must also have prepared her for making her way in such a heavily male-dominated profession. She has a reputation for being straight-talking, and her late husband used to urge her to be more "prudent", but, she says, "it wasn't fun to be prudent: it was much more fun to be mafioso and naughty." Producer: Cathy Drysdale.