Kirsty Young returns to airwaves with BBC podcast after chronic pain battle – as she quizzes star guests on their youth, including Jamie Oliver, who admits he was ‘really annoying’
- The veteran BBC broadcaster is at the helm for new BBC Radio 4 podcast after the ex Desert Island Discs star was forced to take an extended break
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After five years away from the airwaves – bar covering the Platinum Jubilee and the funeral of the Queen in September 2022 – Kirsty Young is set to make her return to broadcasting via a new Radio 4 podcast.
Young, 54, announced in August 2018 that she was suffering from the chronic pain condition fibromyalgia and was forced to hang up her handphones after 12 years as the host of Desert Island Discs.
A teaser trailer for the conversational comeback show, Young Again, which will see Young chatting with global stars, aired this week, featuring a clip with Jamie Oliver.
The TV chef and restauranteur is heard reflecting on his younger years. In a candid admission, he tells the broadcaster: ‘Arguably I’m quite annoying to a lot of people still now but I was really annoying when I was young.’
The podcast sees Young, who’s married to Soho House entrepreneur Nick Jones, taking guests back to meet their younger selves – as she asks the question: ‘If you knew then, what you know now… what would you tell yourself?’
After five years away from her broadcasting career, Kirsty Young will host new Radio 4 podcast Young Again
The 54-year-old said of her return project: ‘Conversation is at the heart of being human and this extraordinary new era of podcasting is its perfect home.’
She added: ‘From the turning points to the tragedies and triumphs… What happened to us is why we are who we are. I’m looking forward enormously to sharing those life stories with listeners.’
Young’s diagnosis with fibromyalgia, which can manifest as aches and a burning sensation from head-to-toe, left the broadcaster losing her sense of self, she told Radio 4 in 2022.
‘It grinds you away, you lose your personality, you lose your sense of humour, you lose your sense of self. There’s all sorts of things that go with it. It’s awful. So I had to take it seriously if I was going to get better. So, I did.’
A trailer released this week for the new interview show described it as taking guests back to meet their younger selves
Amongst Young’s first guests is Jamie Oliver, who admits he was ‘really annoying’ in his younger days. Right: Oliver in his Naked Chef days
Appearing on a special edition of the castaway programme airing on Christmas Day last year, Kirsty told Lauren Laverne, who took over her presenting role, about the moment when she realised she would need to take an extended break from broadcasting.
She said after countless conversations with specialists, one doctor warned her that she had to take the pain condition ‘seriously’ and reduce the stress in her life alongside the medical treatment if she wanted to get better.
The veteran radio broadcaster revealed how she pulled over and broke down in tears after realising she would have to press pause on her beloved broadcasting career.
‘It was said with extreme kindness but it was just a moment of absolute reality and clarity, and I remember I pulled my car over and just had a good old, to use a good Scottish word, a good old greet (cry) and I thought ‘right, well, them’s the facts and you’re really going to have to think about this’,’ she said.
She added: ‘I thought if I’m not that, what am I for? What is a Kirsty for? I did feel that.’
Tough: Kirsty Young has recalled how having to step away from broadcasting for a few years due to her chronic pain condition caused her to question her own identity
Young is married to hotelier Nick Jones, who last year was diagnosed with prostate cancer; she said their health problems had added a ‘piquancy’ to decisions
The broadcaster has also faced the health battles of her husband too in recent years. Jones, who Young married in 1999 and shares two children with, was diagnosed with prostate cancer last year.
In an interview with the Radio Times this week, she said the couple’s health woes had made her take stock, saying: ‘Life sharpens. It actually gets sharper: the people I want to spend time with, how I want to spend my time… if I do work, what do I want to do? Getting older, having a period of ill health, it adds a piquancy to your decisions.’
Jones set up Soho House in London’s Greek Street in 1995 and the starry social space has since become a sprawling global empire whose fans include socialites and celebrities – with its parent company worth more than £200million.
Young returned to work briefly in 2022 for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations and after the Queen died, covering the BBC’s coverage of the funeral.
She was widely praised for her ‘from the heart’ monologue at the end of the live BBC broadcast and left viewers in tears with her words about the ‘depth of affection’ felt for the late monarch.
Kirsty Young delivered her closing monologue following the funeral of Queen Elizabeth
The Scot told Radio Times she hasn’t watched coverage of the Queen’s funeral
The Scots presenter revealed she was close to being overcome by emotion – and how she has not been able to watch her coverage of the state funeral last September.
She told the Radio Times, she said: ‘I’ve never watched it, I think I couldn’t, but the job of a live broadcaster at that moment is to call it.
‘The executive in charge came out and told me, “Everyone in the gallery is in tears”.
‘And I thought, “Well, I nearly was”.’
WHAT IS FIBROMYALGIA?
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition defined by widespread pain and fatigue.
It affects up to 2.7 per cent of people worldwide, with three women suffering for every one man, studies suggest.
Fibromyalgia is often triggered by a trauma, such as a car accident or childbirth, as well as infections. Why this occurs is unclear.
The discomfort tends to be felt as aches and burning from head-to-toe.
And the fatigue ranges from feeling sleepy to the exhaustion of having the flu.
Severe sufferers are often unable to work or socialise.
The pain can be worse at some times than others and may change location, such as becoming more severe in parts of the body that are used the most.
Other symptoms can include headaches; IBS; diarrhoea or constipation; poor concentration; dizziness; allergies and stimuli sensitivity, such as to light or heat.
Studies suggest the average patient waits five years to be diagnosed, which is thought to be due to X-rays and other medical tests not picking the condition up.
It is generally defined as pain that lasts for more than three months and affects 11 or more out of 18 tender points when pressed.
Treatment aims to relieve pain and aid sleep.
Source: Fibromyalgia Action UK
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