Belfast Telegraph

Lauren Laverne thanks fans after criticism over Desert Island Discs role

The Spectator article said that the BBC programme had ‘completely lost the plot’.

Lauren Laverne has received an outpouring of support from ordinary listeners as well as stars (Jason Joyce/BBC)
Lauren Laverne has received an outpouring of support from ordinary listeners as well as stars (Jason Joyce/BBC)

By Sherna Noah, PA Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Lauren Laverne has thanked fans for their support after she was criticised for her performance as host of Desert Island Discs.

The BBC asked Laverne, 41, to fill in for Kirsty Young after she stepped away from the Radio 4 programme due to illness.

Young, 50, recently announced that she will not return, but no longer-term decisions have been made about the popular show’s host. 

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Lauren Laverne took over after Kirsty Young announced a break due to illness (Sarah Dunn/BBC)

In an article for The Spectator, headlined “Desert Island Discs has completely lost the plot”, writer Melanie McDonagh said that the BBC “is trying to attract under-35s …

“It’s the only possible reason why Lauren Laverne, DJ, pop musician, a face for television rather than radio, replaced Kirsty Young for her sick leave.”

She added: “She runs Kathy Clugston of Gardeners’ Question Time close as the worst appointment Radio 4 has made in its apparent effort to alienate its listeners.”

After an outpouring of support from ordinary listeners as well as stars like funnyman Matt Lucas, broadcaster Sara Cox and Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh, Laverne responded.

“Today has been an entirely unexpected inventory of who is in my corner. I have to say I couldn’t be happier,” she wrote on Twitter.

“In fact, it’s been the best day in ages. Isn’t it funny how it goes that way sometimes? Thanks very much to everyone who has been so kind.”

She later added: “The wave of messages is as surreal as it is wonderful…….As a seasoned festival-goer I’ve had many surreal experiences while wearing a kagoule but this is a new personal best.

“Thank you all so much for your kind words. I hope to live up to them.”

Writer Caitlin Moran had written in support: “I thought she (McDonagh) had a point – You ARE too young and beautiful.”

Film reviewer Mark Kermode wrote: “You rule… Everyone I know agrees that you rule…. I think that covers it.”

Trainspotting author Welsh wrote: “You’re the best that there is and they are the absolute worst.”

Comedy star Lucas wrote: “You are the best” and singer Tracey Thorn, who was previously interviewed by Laverne on the show, wrote: “I am in your corner.”

Comedian Jenny Eclair and actor Robert Webb were also among those to voice their support.

Young announced in July that she was stepping down permanently as host of Desert Island Discs, saying her break from the radio show has inspired her to “pursue new challenges”.

The broadcaster first presented the castaway programme 12 years ago but began a spell away from it last summer after being diagnosed with a form of fibromyalgia.

Young took over from Sue Lawley in 2006 and was praised for changing the feel of the show, in which guests share their favourite music while talking about their life.

Desert Island Discs was the creation of Roy Plomley – the idea came to him while he was at home and in his pyjamas.

The first broadcast was recorded in the BBC’s bomb-damaged Maida Vale studio on January 27 1942 and aired in the Forces Programme at 8pm two days later.

It was later presented by Sir Michael Parkinson, and Lawley became the first female host.

Laverne, also a 6 Music host, saw her salary increase by £75,000 to between £305,000 and £309,999, according to recently published BBC figures.

PA

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