Kirsty Young will not return to Radio 4's 'Desert island Discs'

ASCOT, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 21: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Kirsty Young attends day 3 'Ladies Day' of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 21, 2018 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)
Kirsty Young attends day 3 'Ladies Day' of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 21, 2018 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

Kirsty Young is stepping down permanently as host of Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.

The broadcaster - who made her debut with her soft Scottish lilt on the long-running programme in 2006 - revealed she believes, “It’s time to pursue new challenges.”

Young, 50, said in a statement: “After 12 incredibly happy and fulfilling years on Desert Island Discs I’ve decided to step down permanently.

“Having been forced to take some months away from my favourite job because of health problems, I’m happy to say I’m now well on the way to feeling much better.

Read more: Fibromyalgia: What is the condition that Kirsty Young suffers from?

“But that enforced absence from the show has altered my perspective on what I should do next and so I’ve decided it’s time to pursue new challenges.

“Having hundreds of Castaways share their triumphs, tragedies, tribulations and tracks with me over the years was a huge privilege and an education. I am so thankful to Roy Plomley for the brilliance of his format, and I wish the programme and Lauren all the very best.”

EDITORIAL USE ONLY Lauren Laverne takes calls on Zopa�s �FeelGood Hotline�, as the 'FeelGood Money' company aims to help banish the January blues, in London.
Lauren Laverne is now the host of Desert Island Discs (Credit: PA)

Last summer Young announced she would be stepping away from the show, for a “number of months” as she is suffering from a form of fibromyalgia. In her absence Lauren Laverne, 41, has been interviewing guests on the show as they choose their eight favourite songs to be cast away on a desert island with.

Young has presented 496 episodes of the programme as well as fronting its 70th and 75th anniversary celebrations. She took over from Sue Lawley, who followed Michael Parkinson and Roy Plomley as host of the popular radio show, which began in 1946.

Young’s Castaways have included Zadie Smith, David Beckham, Bruce Springsteen, Victoria Wood, Dame Kelly Holmes, Dame Judi Dench, George Michael, Alice Walker, Tom Hanks, Second World War pilot Eric Winkle Brown and Sir David Attenborough.

Read more: 10 excellent Desert Island Discs episodes you need to download

BBC director of radio and education James Purnell said: “Kirsty has been a wonderful host of Desert Island Discs for more than a decade and her intuitive interviewing style as well as her warmth and humour has helped bring out incredible life stories and anecdotes from her castaways. We know how loved she is by listeners and we all wish her well for the future.

“Lauren Laverne has been doing a brilliant job at the helm in Kirsty’s absence and I’m delighted she continues to host one of Radio 4’s most popular shows.”

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Laverne will continue to host Desert Island Discs for the foreseeable future.

She said: “Stepping in for Kirsty on Desert Island Discs (which was already my favourite programme) has been an enormous honour. I wish her the very best in her next chapter.”