‘Desert Island’ treat with Dame Catherine

CASTAWAY...Catherine Cookson visiting her old home at William Black Street, East Jarrow.
CASTAWAY...Catherine Cookson visiting her old home at William Black Street, East Jarrow.

IT can bring you up sharp to hear a voice again, not heard for nearly 20 years.

Not that it wouldn’t be instantly recognisable – to most folk round here, at least – with those vowel sounds, polished by years away from the North East, but still recognisably Tyne Dock.

It’s that of South Shields-born writer, the late Dame Catherine Cookson, who, thanks to the magic of radio, can currently be heard talking about her life over the (computer accessed) air waves.

If you’re a Desert Island Discs aficionado, like me, it’s a delight that the BBC now makes its archive of the programme available to listeners, featuring editions of DID going back as far as the 1940s.

Some of it is absolute gold dust, with stars featured such as Deborah Kerr, and Stewart Granger. But it also features the edition which Catherine Cookson recorded with series creator, Roy Plomley, more than 30 years ago.

In it, she talks about her tough childhood growing up in Shields, about working in the laundry at Harton workhouse and her eventual flight to the south of England, and how she came to pen what was, at that time, more than 60 books.

Her music choices were eclectic, ranging from Chopin, to I Won’t Send Roses, from the musical Mack and Mabel.

For her luxury on the island, she chose a piano.

There are no great revelations – her life, eventually, became an open book – but for anyone who missed it the first time around, it’s highly listen-able to.

Search for it at www.bbc.co.uk