Radio review: Actor Brian Cox is a desert island gem

Nuala McCann

Desert Island Discs Brian Cox

In hard times, the radio is a friend and companion... there's a wealth of company out there for each and every isolator.

Brian Cox – the actor, not the television star physicist – was a true gem on Desert Island Discs.

He has played everyone from Churchill to Matt Busby and won a Golden Globe for his role as multi millionaire and tough man Logan Roy in the HBO hit Succession.

He has played plenty of villains.

“The devil has the best tunes” he joked.

His was a tough childhood.

His father, “a mythic figure”, ran a shop in Dundee and was sweet and kind to everyone – letting them have what they needed on credit.

He died suddenly when Cox was eight and the family was left in shock and grief with debts to pay. His mother had a breakdown. The family went into survival mode.

His mother got a widow's pension that came in on a Friday.

He recalls Thursday nights' dinner as the scraps left at the back of the pan in the local chippies.

“I'm a bit cautious, parsimonious ... poverty is what makes you a socialist,” he pointed out.

It has also made him a hoarder who loves clothes and chose a sewing kit as his luxury item on his desert island.

There were stories of opportunities – he was a working class kid who got the grant to go to London and train to be an actor. Those were days of true social mobility, he said.

There were funny tales too – like the one about the party he went to, where he saw George Harrison and Ringo Starr lying sleeping, clearly exhausted after playing a gig earlier.

He saw them; he just didn't quite get to meet them.

There was a lot of humour and a lot of straight talking here – a true Scot who could never settle in LA and a star with his feet firmly set on the ground – and not a bit like his hit character Logan Roy.

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