Stephen Mangan faces The Island in Radio 4's Desert Island Discs spoof

ExclusiveThursday 9th May 2024, 8:15am by Jay Richardson

Stephen Mangan
  • Radio 4 has ordered The Island, a spoof sitcom sending up its classic Desert Island Discs interview format
  • Starring Stephen Mangan, the six-part series finds the actor washed up on the fabled island, where all of the show's previous guests now reside in a desperate struggle for survival
  • "We play on the violent narrative of Lord Of The Flies and other island stories like Robinson Crusoe" says co-writer Simon Alcock. "It's such a strange little world of people and it gets quite dark"

Desert Island Discs meets Lord Of The Flies in a new Radio 4 sitcom spoofing the channel's classic interview format, starring Stephen Mangan.

In The Island, Mangan finds himself washed up on the fabled beach with his favourite records, book and luxury item, fighting for survival with every other former Desert Island Discs guest, including Sandi Toksvig, Hugh Bonneville, Tony Robinson, Nadiya Hussain and Richard Madeley, with the latter having gone completely feral.

Surrounded by rotting pianos and useless coffee machines, Mangan finds himself caught up in the power struggle to be island chief and makes himself a powerful enemy. Meanwhile, something lurks in the forest that has the castaways deeply concerned.

Written by Simon Alcock (Have I Got News For You, Dead Ringers) and Tom Oxenham (Please Use Other Door, Skim For England), the six 15-minute episodes were recorded in March and will air later this year.

The series is produced by Jon Holmes (The Naked Week) and Bill Dare (The Now Show) for the former's production company unusual, which scooped a silver Aria Award for its satirical Radio 4 series The Skewer on Tuesday night.

The Island faithfully recalls the actual music, book and luxury items chosen by former guests on Desert Island Discs, which has broadcast on BBC Radio since 1942 and on Radio 4 since 1967.

But "rather than kicking back in a hammock, listening to records from their youth, we've tried to take it really seriously and imagined genuine survival situations" Alcock told British Comedy Guide. "The celebrities that are still in good stead are the ones that have taken it seriously too, rather than the ones who've chosen items with no practical use like a pinball machine."

Narrated by Green Wing and Episodes star Mangan as if he's living the experience, "they've all thought they were going to be there on their own but we play on the violent narrative of Lord Of The Flies and other island stories like Robinson Crusoe" Alcock explains. "It's such a strange little world of people and it gets quite dark.

"Our hopes for the series are exactly the same as [William] Golding's were when he published Lord Of The Flies. To warn people about the innate brutality of human nature and underscore how fragile our civilisation is. Only we're doing it with celebrities."

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