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Desert Island Discs

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl with his first wife, Patricia, and their chlidren in 1964. Getty Images

Netflix’s £500m deal to snap up Roald Dahl’s estate, announced last week, would sit uncomfortably with the children’s author if he were alive today. Dahl, who died in 1990, thought the 1971 adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory “a rather crummy film”, he told Roy Plomley on Desert Island Discs in 1979, and vowed never to let Hollywood near his work again. He had more fun writing the script for You Only Live Twice in 1967, inventing James Bond’s “outlandish gizmos” and swanning around in helicopters with Sean Connery. But “it’s so much better, if you’re an ordinary writer, to stick to writing books and stories, and then nobody can screw around with them”.

He worked in his orchard cabin from 10am to midday and 4pm to 6pm every day, bounding off to the house for a stiff drink after each slot. “I only really write what I think is funny,” he says. That doesn’t tally with your darker short stories for adults, says Plomley. “I’ve probably got a warped sense of humour,” concedes Dahl. “I think it’s terribly funny if somebody gets killed by being hit on the head by a frozen leg of lamb.”

🎵 Che gelida manina (from La Bohème), Puccini

🎵 Violin Concerto in D major, Beethoven

🎵 Fern Hill, Dylan Thomas

🎵 Agnus Dei (from Mass in B minor), Bach

🎵 Symphony No 9 (“Choral”), Beethoven

🎵 Sanctus (from Requiem), Gabriel Fauré

🎵 Orchestral Suite No 3 in D major, Bach

🎵 Piano Sonata No 11, Mozart

🎁 Tobacco seeds and a home still

📕 The New Oxford Book of English Verse

Listen to the episode here.