In Michael Berkeley’s Private Passions Andy McNab reveals the central place of music in his life, and particularly his passion for opera.

Opera, he says, is the only thing that makes him cry: he chooses Wagner, Verdi and Puccini. McNab reveals too his love of the calm reflective music of Gregorian chant, which he first heard sung by the Benedictine monks of Belmont Abbey, when he was training for the SAS in Herefordshire. He talks movingly about his imprisonment and torture, and about how the particular sounds of that time are burned into his memory: the jangle of keys, the rattle of doors. To escape those dark memories, he chooses one of the most joyful pieces of music ever written: Handel’s Messiah.

One thing I’d love to ask Andy myself again sometime is about him having a ‘silent dinner’ with the Monks of Belmont Abbey. How hard must that have been ?!?

Andy’s Music: