It’s no surprise that in these unusual times, we’re turning to streaming media for comfort while we’re behind closed doors. And it’s equally no surprise that one of the forms we’re turning to en masse is the humble podcast.
Last year Ofcom reported that around 7.1million people in the UK listened to podcasts at least once a week – and that figure is surely only going to increase at the present time. Part of the reason for increased podcast consumption will be that they’re one of the forms of media that can still quite easily be produced – anyone in any location with any kind of recording device and access to the internet can publish a podcast. Group discussions can easily take place over Skype and similar platforms, and be recorded and edited together.
So those of us who already like making podcasts are only naturally going to spend more time making them – and plenty of people who’ve never tried it will find themselves wanting to start. But from a listener point of view, it’s also clear why podcasts represent such an appealing haven right now – familiar voices, arriving on a regular schedule, talking about things you’re interested in. What could be more reassuring?
We’re big lovers of podcasts here at Social – we’ve written before about how much of a useful outlet we think they are for our clients – so if you’re looking for something new to listen to, we thought we’d round up some suggestions for our favourite current or recent podcast series and episodes, across a wide range of genres and subjects.
5Live and the BBC in general have a range of good daily podcasts on all sorts of topics. While the 5Live Football Daily is currently in something of a holding pattern due to the suspension of football, the morning briefing that is Wake Up To Money is still a vital source of up-to-the-minute information about financial matters.
Dr Rangan Chatterjee’s podcast is filled with great health and wellbeing advice, delivered in his sensitive and engaging way; and he’s just released a special topical episode on How to Manage Anxiety in the Face of a Pandemic.
Sometimes you just don’t have time to sit and absorb an entire long-read article – but The Guardian handily package up some of their most interesting material on a regular basis, so that you can consume while you travel or (as is more likely at the moment!) get on with other things at home.
BBC Radio 4’s accessible science series, in which Dr Adam Rutherford and guests illuminate the mysteries and challenge the controversies behind the science that’s changing our world.
One of a number of popular podcasts that interviews figures from comedy, entertainment and the arts, TV and radio presenter Adam Buxton’s show runs in “seasons”, and hasn’t published a new episode since December; nevertheless, if you’ve never heard his engaging “ramble chats” before, there’s an archive of over 100 episodes with a fascinating variety of guests. Adam also produces the best jingles in the business!
Possibly the king of the “comedy interview” podcast, comedian Richard Herring has been running RHLSTP (formerly Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast) for the best part of a decade. Legends such as Brian Blessed, Stephen Fry, Bob Mortimer and Eddie Izzard mingle with lesser-known and up-and-coming names to talk about their careers and craft. It’s not always the cleanest of material, and the tone varies depending on the guest, but Herring has a habit of drawing out great material and surprising revelations.
Actor Craig Parkinson (aka Line of Duty’s “Dot” Cottan) interviews fellow professionals about “the highs and sometimes extreme lows of becoming and being an actor”. Always entertaining, and sometimes moving, this is a great look inside the acting world.
Singer-songwriter Jessie Ware is joined by her mum Lennie to host this brilliantly enjoyable interview podcast over her own dinner table. Over the last year names as big as Emilia Clarke, Nicole Scherzinger, David Schwimmer and Liam Payne have joined the Wares for a chat, and the podcast is so successful it’s spun off into its own cookbook!
This podcast about the internet, and the effect of digital culture on everyday lives, made headlines recently after the release of one particular episode. The Case of the Missing Hit is an absolutely brilliant piece of storytelling, relating what happens when a man becomes haunted by the memory of a pop song he remembers from his youth, but can’t find any record of on the internet. The twists and turns and eventual reveal will have you gasping with joy, and if you only listen to one podcast episode off the back of this article, make it this one!
A podcast version of the New York Times’ popular column, with readings by notable personalities and updates from the essayists themselves across the gamut of romantic experiences.
Film journalist Sam Clements invites guests to submit entries to his fictional film festival, with one specific criterion – they must not be longer than 90 minutes. A great variation on the usual style of movie discussion podcast, with guests such as Mae Martin, Joe Cornish and Colin Trevorrow on past episodes.
Most episode-by-episode podcasts about TV shows are presented from a fan’s perspective. Office Ladies, which looks back at the US version of The Office, is a little different – as it’s hosted by stars Jenna Fischer (Pam) and Angela Kinsey (Angela). The pair look back on their time on the show, offering unique behind-the-scenes tidbits and trivia from each episode, and inviting fellow cast and crew members to reminisce.
Is it cheating if we include a podcast produced and hosted by one of our own team? And if by “one of our own team” we mean the person writing this article? Cinematic Universe is a podcast all about superhero and comic book movies, from and for the twin perspectives of film fans who can’t tell their Marvel from their DC, and comic book know-it-alls who can delve into the deeper history of the source material behind the films.
Comedian Deborah Frances-White is joined by a glittering array of special guests to confess the “insecurities, hypocrisies and fears that undermine their lofty principles”. Always recorded in front of a live audience, the show is by turns funny and thought-provoking.
What more reassuring programme is there, anywhere, than Radio 4’s legendary series in which famous figures are invited to discuss the music and books they’d take away to a desert island? The show is available as an ongoing podcast feed of new episodes, and an enormous archive of classics going all the way back to the 1950s. So whether you prefer the era of Roy Plomley, Sue Lawley, Kirsty Young or Lauren Laverne, you’ll find something to enjoy.
Another “behind the curtain” series hosted by comedy writers Jason Hazeley and Joel Morris, in which writers and performers bring along a particular comedy thing that they love in order to discuss it. Also often features insights into the guest’s own work, but is frequently brilliant at picking apart just why certain things make us laugh.
There are so many podcasts dedicated to in-depth and detailed discussion of popular drama and comedy series. But what about light-hearted early evening magazine shows? The The One Show Show plugs a gap you never knew existed with Jon Holmes and his special guests hilariously and inventively picking apart BBC1’s daily 7pm offering.
There might be no new football to talk about on podcasts at the moment, but it’s still a great time go through the archives of Jamie Carragher’s recently-launched podcast, in which he talks to footballers and celebrities alike about their teams, their love of football, and the greatest matches they’ve either seen or played in.
Have we missed out your favourite? If you’ve got a podcast you think people should hear, let us know @LifeAtSOCIAL!
For more content like this, sign up to our newsletter and receive a regular roundup of news, insights and advice from Social’s team of communications experts