Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson. He has the task of managing one of the most challenging briefs of government - and the stakes are raised further because, when there is an election, the Prime Minister Gordon Brown has made it clear that the main battleground will be health.

Johnson says that unlike many politicians, he is not a keen strategist who has spent his life plotting his career, instead he has simply 'drifted along', taking whatever challenges fate offered. He has drifted on quite an incredible journey - raised among the deprivation and squalor of London in the 1950s, he was orphaned when he was 12 and brought up by his sister. He left school without an O-level but with ambitions to join the music industry. Instead, after a spell stacking supermarket shelves, he became a postman and by the time he was 20 he was married with three children. He rose through the trade union movement where his astute negotiating skills and political acumen brought him to Tony Blair's attention. According to those who know him best, however, his political ambitions are limited - his children say he would still rather be the lead singer in a band than Prime Minister.

[Taken from the original programme material for this archive edition of Desert Island Discs]

Favourite track: And Your Bird Can Sing by The Beatles Book: Diaries by Samuel Pepys Luxury: Digital radio.