Desert Island Discs was devised by Roy Plomley, who presented the first edition on 29 January 1942. The programme was recorded two days earlier with comedian Vic Oliver in the bomb-damaged Maida Vale Studios. The success of the programme owes much to its simple format, but early programmes were scripted to comply with wartime censorship.
Guests are invited to imagine they are shipwrecked on a desert island, and asked to pick eight gramophone records to take with them. As the show developed they were then allowed one luxury item – not a survival aid – and a single book. Plomley presented 1,791 editions before his death in 1985. Since that time the presenters have been Michael Parkinson, Sue Lawley and, currently, Kirsty Young.
Today the format of Desert Island Discs remains unchanged, and there is an impressive online archive of past shows.