Desert Island Discs archive to go online

Colin Firth and Sue Lawley on Desert Island Discs Oscar winner Colin Firth was a castaway in 2005

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An online archive of hundreds of episodes of BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs is being launched next month.

Fans will be able to download more than 500 episodes from the Radio 4 website.

The website will also list the records, books and luxury items chosen for the imaginary desert island stay by every guest in the show's 69-year history.

Classic editions will also be aired on digital station Radio 4 Extra, which is due to replace Radio 7 in April. Kirsty Young has hosted the show since 2006.

Its illustrious guests each choose eight pieces of music to take to a desert island as well as discussing their lives and careers in often revealing interviews.

Young called the archive "a real treat", adding: "Everyone has the chance get their hands on the Desert Island Discs archive and hear the music, book, luxury and lives of hundreds of castaways from programmes gone by."

The presenter will update classic shows for transmission on Radio 4 Extra, while hour-long versions of more recent interviews will also be aired with previously unheard material.

The revised repeats are set to be broadcast when the programme is off the air for around 10 weeks of the year.

The rebranding of digital spoken word network Radio 7 was approved by the BBC Trust last month, aligning it more closely with Radio 4.

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