Ex-Desert Island Discs host Kirsty Young tells of pain caused by fibromyalgia

Kirsty Young has revealed that she was unable to do simple chores and struggled with low moods because of her fibromyalgia.

The Scottish broadcaster, 53, was diagnosed with secondary fibromyalgia in 2018, which is a condition that causes chronic pain throughout the body and makes sufferers extremely tired. She was also diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

In an interview with The Sunday Times Magazine, in which she spoke about her condition publicly for the first time, she spoke of the extreme pain she had felt.

The 53-year-old said that she felt as if she had been hit ‘with a baseball bat’ but tried to hide the extent of her illness from her children, only revealing it to husband Nick Jones, founder of Soho House members’ club.

Kirsty – who is set to make her return to the BBC when fronting its coverage of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – admitted that stepping back from her hosting gig on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in 2019 was ‘clearly the only option’.

The Scottish broadcaster (pictured in 2015), 53, was diagnosed with secondary fibromyalgia, which is a condition that causes chronic pain throughout the body and makes sufferers extremely tired and said that she was treated by the wrong medics and painkillers 

Kirsty also revealed how struggled with low moods due to her fibromyalgia saying: ‘I’m not a medic, I don’t know the difference between low mood and depression, but I remember talking to my specialist about that. 

‘He said, “Well, of course, if you’re dealing with a chronic pain disorder, that’s absolutely a symptom”.’

During her efforts to recover, she said that she had come across the ‘wrong medics’ and the ‘wrong medication’ which hindered her recovery.

She added: ‘It’s like somebody had drugged me, like you’d taken a sleeping tablet at the wrong time in the day and you were completely losing it.’

And she said that she was left with no option but to quit Desert Island Discs due to her conditions. 

She added that the condition caused low moods and left her with no choice but to quit Desert Island Discs as she was in so much pain. Pictured in 2017

She added that the condition caused low moods and left her with no choice but to quit Desert Island Discs as she was in so much pain. Pictured in 2017

She has not listened to the show, now presented by Lauren Laverne, since, as she was sad about having to give up the job.


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  

Now, due to specialist help and a simpler lifestyle, she has been able to come off most of her medications.

She was unsure if she would be well enough to work again but is doing some of the BBC’s Jubilee coverage.

The 53-year-old described it as a ‘unique moment’ that she will probably never see again and ‘could not resist’ getting involved in.  

Kirsty will be hosting four live days of coverage and she is unsure if her comeback will extend longer than that. She admitting that she is going to wait to see how her Jubilee coverage goes.

She will be joined by presenters including Huw Edwards, Clare Balding, AJ Odudu, Roman Kemp and Anita Rani. 

Reporters across the UK will include Jermaine Jenas at Buckingham Palace, Gethin Jones in Wales, Carol Kirkwood in Scotland, and Holly Hamilton in Northern Ireland. 

Kirsty and Kemp, 29, will lead coverage of the Platinum Party at the Palace on June 4. 

The celebration will see famous faces from the world of entertainment brought together to perform for a night of musical tributes to celebrate the Jubilee.

Ahead of her return to the BBC, Kirsty said: ‘I’m delighted to be back on the BBC for such an historic, unique, and happy event.

‘It’s going to be quite a weekend and our coverage will bring viewers everywhere a front row seat at the celebrations. I can’t wait!’ 

The celebrations will also include the Platinum Pageant, during which Kirsty will be joined by a variety of presenters, including Strictly Come Dancing’s Anton Du Beke.

The pageant will bring together artistic performers, dancers, musicians, military personnel, key workers and volunteers from across the UK and the Commonwealth who will unite to tell the story of the Queen’s reign in a festival of creativity.

During the pageant’s finale a number of national treasures will feature and Ed Sheeran will appear on stage to lead a special tribute to the Queen.

The BBC will also host a variety of programmes celebrating the Queen’s 70-year reign during the lead up to the Jubilee weekend and following the main celebrations.

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