25th October 1971

Dame Sibyl Hathaway chose her Desert Island Discs

Not many guests on the BBC’s long-running interview strand, Desert Island Discs, can claim to actually live on an island roughly as large as the programme envisages. That makes Dame Sibyl Hathaway, ruler of Sark something of a stand-out guest.

The difference, of course, was that she didn’t live alone on Sark. Nonetheless, she said that she didn’t believe she would have trouble with the solitude of being stranded on a small patch of land in the middle of the ocean.

She appeared on the show on 25 October 1971 alongside host Roy Plomley. The Dame talked listeners through her life story. She discussed what it was like to live under German occupation and, of course, which eight records and one book she would take with her to the desert island.

Dame Sibyl’s favourite records

Her selection was perhaps not surprising in that it was almost entirely composed of classical pieces. Noel Coward’s Matelot was the only exception. Aside from him, she settled on Gershwin, Dvorak, Debussy and Mendelssohn among others.

The one record she would have saved if they were all at risk of being washed away was Symphony Number 5 in C Sharp Minor by Gustav Mahler. Why? Because, she believed, “all of one’s emotions” were tied up in it, making it the most satisfying of the lot.

Her book of choice was the History of England by Sir Keith Feiling. This would certainly have kept her occupied until rescue arrived: published in December 1950, it runs to 1264 pages.

For her luxury, she would take “lots” of canvas and tapestry tools. She would use them to weave her own Bayeux-style tapestry of the history of Sark or, if not that, the history of her own life.

The episode is still available on the BBC website. It was archived without the music, leaving just 17 minutes of interview and introduction.


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Other events that occured in October

Guernsey Post Office was established 1st
Guernsey switched to Reichsmarks 2nd
Sark was the target of Operation Basalt 3rd
Sark voted for democracy 4th
Guernsey lifeboat saved a Swedish schooner 5th
Jeeves actor died in Guernsey 6th
Sarnia Theatre celebrated its most successful year 7th
The Story of Adele H opened in cinemas 8th
Howards’ Way came to Guernsey 9th
Guernsey Ladies’ College opened 10th
A Trislander ate itself between Jersey and Guernsey 11th
The Channel Islands’ king set sail for England 12th
Major General Sir Isaac Brock died 13th
Footballer Matt Le Tissier was born 14th
Island FM brings commercial radio to Guernsey 15th
Channel Television saw off a rival broadcaster 16th
The first mines were dug on Sark 17th
Sark’s Stocks Hotel was damaged by fire 18th
Elizabeth College’s foundation stone was laid 19th
Hitler ordered the Channel Islands’ fortification 20th
Guernsey’s stone crackers demanded a pay rise 21st
The desalination plant opened 22nd
Sir Charles Hayward buys Jethou for £91,000 23rd
Guernsey Monopoly board game went on sale 24th
Dame Sibyl Hathaway chose her Desert Island Discs 25th
GUNS founder Charles Machon died 26th
Bailiff Sir Peter de Havilland was born 27th
A man “disappeared” from a Guernsey ferry 28th
Express & Star bought Guernsey Press 29th
The first lighthouses were built on the Casquets 30th
States of Guernsey voted to lower the voting age 31st