Kirsty Young to host new BBC Radio 4 podcast as part of network’s expansion

BBC’s new content slate includes Helena Bonham-Carter, Mary Beard and Martha Kearney

Kirsty Young, former host of BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, will be making her podcast debut for the network as part of a new slate of content commissions. 

The announcement was made by BBC chief content officer Charlotte Moore at the spring conference of broadcasting non-profit the Voice of the Listener and Viewer, held on 11 May in Central London. 

Young’s series for BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds will feature the presenter in conversation with a number of the UK’s “most prominent public figures”, asking them what they would like to tell their younger selves. The podcast is set to launch on BBC Sounds in the coming year and will also be broadcast on Radio 4. 

“I’m so delighted to welcome Kirsty back with her debut podcast for BBC Sounds and Radio 4,” said Moore. “What a treat this will be, and such a fascinating way to understand more about the people who shape our world.”

Conversation is at the heart of being human and this extraordinary new era of podcasting is its perfect home,” said Young. “I’m really looking forward to in depth exchanges with my guests, exploring the landscape of their early lives and how it’s shaped the person they’ve become.”

“From the turning points to the tragedies and triumphs... What happened to us is why we are who we are. I’m looking forward enormously to sharing those life stories with listeners.”

This podcast is part of the BBC’s growing initiative to expand its podcast programming and to continue “creating more great British IP”. This includes a 10-part podcast series titled History’s Secret Heroes coming soon, narrated by award-winning actress Helena Bonham Carter on the extraordinary stories behind unsung heroes from the Second World War. 

English scholar Mary Beard will also host a new six-part series for BBC Radio 4 titled Being Roman, in which she re-creates the lives of six people living within the Roman Empire and offers history lessons and stories about Ancient Rome. 

Lastly, a ten-part series from BBC Audio Production will also be launching in partnership between The National Portrait Gallery and BBC Radio 4 to mark the re-opening of the Gallery in the summer. The series will be presented by journalist Martha Kearney and feature 10 influential British figures who will come face to face with portraits from the Gallery’s collection that mean something to them on a personal level.

“It’s our audiences that ultimately benefit from us having more opportunities to create world class content through podcasts, which can also enhance our on air schedules, allowing us to tap into the best creative ideas and work with the best talent,” said Moore. “Nowhere other than Radio 4 would listeners find such a range of distinctive speech audio. Our commitment to building rich live schedules as well as a captivating on demand offer is evidenced by these ambitious commissions, fronted by this esteemed line up of brilliant talent who will each bring their passion and expertise to our listeners in their own unique way.”