What we learned about Theresa May from Desert Island Discs
theresa may

Theresa May, the new Prime Minister, appeared on Desert Island Discs two years ago. Here’s what we learned.

Unlike other politicians, she didn’t tell a few porkies in an effort to seem cool, when she was guest on the BBC Radio 4 show.

No, she laid it all out there. What we got instead was someone who clearly stopped listening to anything post-1976.

This is Theresa May we’re talking about after all: the ex-home secretary who banned rapper Tyler the Creator last year from entering the UK.

Judging by her music taste, it’s hard to imagine how she stumbled across the controversial Californian hip hop star.

Here we have a listen back to that episode of DID to examine just what kind of music fan is now running our country.

OK, so she likes ABBA

Trust me, this is about to get a whole lot worse. She likes Sweden’s finest pop export, rating ‘Dancing Queen’ as their best work and a song she’d take as a castaway.

Fair choice to start off with, an undeniable one at that, but when it’s the youngest selection on your list at nearly 40 years old, music probably isn’t your forte.

Was she ever a teenager?

Her first choice on the programme is the 1963 Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons hit ‘Walk Like A Man’, because “it reminds me of many happy evenings in the village hall with friends.”

But hang on, she was born in 1956, so would have been just seven when it was released. What was she doing for the rest of the 1960s and 70s?

Presumably when London was swinging Mrs May was still stuck in her village hall.

She really loves the 1700s

Kirsty Young, who presents the occasionally comical Desert Island Discs,  must have had a barrel of laughs when talking to Mrs May about her selections.

Theresa May decided to slip in ‘When I Survey the Wondrous Cross’, an 18th century Church of England hymn.

Praise the Lord that Mrs May’s mobile phone is probably as ancient as the music she likes – we wouldn’t want it to be connected to a bluetooth speaker at a house party.

Everyone loves a bit of Mozart, though – if they’re studying or need to concentrate. Mrs May loves the sound of The Queen of the Night’s aria from Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’, but it’s not really the ideal track to accompany a blisteringly hot desert, is it?

Yes Minister is not eligible

One of her discs was a rather controversial choice: she would take a soundbite of an interchange on the popular 1980s political sitcom Yes Minister. It sounds as if she is uncertain how Desert Island Discs actually works.

Even more worrying is the sketch choice that May has opted for, which features politicians mocking the NHS cuts. Good luck, Britain.

Her choices get older and older

The next stop is 1676, when composer Henry Purcell wrote incidental music for a play called Abdelazer.

You might not think she’d go further back than the 17th century, but May manages to extend and conclude this tenuous edition of Desert Island Discs with a 12th century Latin hymn.

Why can’t she be like Obama?

Meanwhile in America, Barack Obama is a well-publicised music fanatic.

He’s had Bruce Springsteen perform at his rallies before his presidency, he’s had U2 perform at his inauguration, and he’s more than happy to attend every Kennedy Center Honors, which awards those with endless contributions to the performing arts.

He’s also revealed his Spotify playlists with both day and night lists featuring a range of eclectic choices, including Justin Timberlake, The Lumineers and Mos Def.

You might think the music taste of a political leader doesn’t matter much, but it does offer a rare glimpse of their personality.

To give Theresa some credit, at least she’s not pretending to be cool, like Blair, Brown and Cameron before her.


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