I listen to possibly too many podcasts and stress myself out trying to fit them all in and schedule what I’m going to listen to next. I listen to them while I exercise, cook, clean, go for my one daily government sanctioned walk, and as well as being a great way to learn new things and get loads of recommendations they’re also often just really comforting. In my opinion, a podcast can make even the most menial task an enjoyable one. So as you might have guessed I’ve got quite a few recommendations, so I’ll start with just a few of my favourites.
Fortunately with Fi and Jane
I’m not saving the best for last because I’ve no time for that. Fortunately is my happy place and to get me through such strange times I’ve been going through the back catalogue listening to an old episode every morning while I struggle through my exercises, and it helps. There’s literally nothing more comforting, you can’t possibly stay stressed about the state of the world while listening (unless equality Jane is out and about, then you might get a bit angry about the gender pay gap but that’s okay, sometimes a little anger is needed). I’ve listened to so many episodes I think Fi and Jane are part of my thought process, sitting on my shoulder and giving me their advice. It’s just lovely and I’m not forcing you or anything but do listen to it, I promise it’s wonderful and will make you feel much less alone in isolation. I’d be surprised if anyone could listen to an episode without cracking a smile, try episode 72 – ‘A burst of hamstery energy’ with Dame Esther Rantzen if you’re in need of some fun. The good news is they’re still putting out episodes, just recording remotely (as although some find it hard to believe, they don’t live together as they aren’t in fact a couple) and having guests on over zoom.
Unlocking Us with Brené Brown
I came very late to understanding why everyone loves Brené Brown, after only looking into her work when I seen people talking about her podcast, Unlocking Us. It’s fair to say one episode in and I understood why. Brown’s ted talk on vulnerability has 12 million views, and with good reason, she’s eloquent in discussing subjects centred around the human psyche that many of us avoid even thinking about just because it’s hard. Brown is a researcher and best selling author, and this podcast is an accumulation of all her findings throughout her research into the experience of being human. This is certainly a podcast for the times, Brené Brown is here to help guide us through and offer a helping hand through guest appearances, talking directly with us and answering questions. One of the recent episodes with David Kessler, on grief and finding meaning, touches a lot on the collective grief and anxiety the world is going through at the moment and should be required listening to reassure and provide hope.
Football, Feminism and everything in between with Grace and Alastair Campbell
I’ve seen Grace Campbell’s stand up show Why I’m Never Going Into Politics twice now (the second of which she was wearing the most brilliant vulva dungarees) and absolutely love her, she’s my woman of the moment. I’ve followed her co founded activist collective, The Pink Protest, for a long time and that’s how I found this podcast which gives me almost as many laughs as her stand up. The added addition of the wonderful banter between Grace and her totally unknown dad, Alastair Campbell, makes for a very merry podcast with great guests and even better interviews, covering quite literally ‘everything’ as you can see from the title, and neither of them shy away from the hard questions. It’s also really interesting to hear people talking about feminism who don’t tend to speak much on the subject or aren’t associated with the movement. They recently finished the second series, so this is the perfect time to catch up on the back catalogue before the next one.
Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell
Malcolm Gladwell is fast becoming one of the most thought provoking and intelligent people I’ve ever read or listened to. In this podcast he re-examines incidents of the past and provides a different look at, as he puts it, “the overlooked and misunderstood”. You can never come away from Gladwell’s work without feeling like your eyes have been opened to the world, he often shows just how narrow our viewpoints and conclusions can be, and proves them completely wrong. He appears to have kept that constant questioning of the world that is often lost after childhood, with no acceptance for leaving things as they are just because it’s what we’re told. I’m sure it’ll reignite a curiosity in many others. As well as covering great topics, Revisionist History episodes, like Gladwell’s audio books, are amazing listening experiences – with music, interviews and his wonderful commentary throughout – he certainly doesn’t do boring. If you’re looking for an episode to try, series 4: episode 8 ‘In a Metal Mood’, is a really great example of the way Gladwell starts with seemingly unrelated topics and somehow brings it all together to make sense of the world. And if you enjoy that, series 5 is on the way soon.
Doing It with Hannah Witton
This podcast covers a wide variety of topics based around sex and relationships, and if you’ve watched Hannah Witton on her YouTube channel before, you’ll know her content is always really inclusive and informative. I’ve watched Witton’s content since I was in high school, and find it just as important as I did then, and this podcast is, dare I say it, my favourite piece of work she’s done. There’s never a dull moment as her happiness literally radiates through your earphones/speaker and there’s no topic that she’ll shy away from. I love that it’s helping break down so many taboos and giving people a better understanding of experiences other than their own while also showing our similarities (which I’d say is the way forward in becoming a more understanding and empathetic species). Doing It will make you learn and laugh, make you less embarrassed and best of all intrigue you with new things.
The Catch and Kill Podcast with Ronan Farrow
I became a bit obsessed with Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill podcast, which is based around his New Yorker piece revealing the allegations against Harvey Weinstein, and the lead up to this with the challenges the survivors and reporters faced. He also has a book out of the same name, which I’d recommend reading before the podcast as it’ll really leave you wanting more. The podcast was intense and heartbreaking as you follow Farrow through the scary times leading up to the release of the story, with the many obstacles Weinstein and his lawyers try to throw in his way, which included having him followed. There’s now the added benefit that when you listen to the disgusting and horrible stories the women tell in the podcast, and you root for Farrow to get the story out and for them to be believed, that we can be slightly comforted in knowing that atleast he’s now officially convicted, and getting his ass kicked into prison- I swear, if a bad man got put away everyday, the joy would fuel me. It’s one hell of a story to read and listen to, it’ll take you through a whirlwind of emotions with a LOT of anger. I think its important still now that everyone hears what all went on behind the scenes to get this story out, and the bravery from the women to keep going. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this, and it’s bloody great that people are finally being held accountable for their actions but it’s still necessary that everyone understands the systems that were in place that allowed a widely known predator to stay in power for so long.
The High Low with Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes
I think this might’ve been the podcast that really started my obsession, after reading Dolly Alderton’s memoir, Everything I Know About Love, I soon found my way to The High Low and haven’t stopped listening since. It’s quite literally joyful, packed full of recommendations, from articles and books, to tv shows and films. They also cover recent news stories and pop culture, and whatever the current topics and debates of the week are and I love their ability to look at everything fairly, understanding all the nuances and therefore not always needing to pick a side. They often have guest authors on, and I love a bumper book special as I know I’ll leave with loads of books to get excited about and fill up my tbr pile. Dolly and Pandora are one of the most entertaining, thoughtful and intelligent duos, they make The High Low what it is. The podcast is thankfully back with its latest series to save us all from constant panic, and with bonus episodes already, filled to the brim with recommendations, you won’t be bored for long.
You’re Booked with Daisy Buchanan
Daisy Buchanan’s book, The Sisterhood, is a comfort read in itself and this podcast is much the same and a really wonderful idea. In each episode, Buchanan visits authors in their homes and has a nose through their book shelves with them, finding out many stories along the way. This is the perfect podcast for those who’d love to get a look at their favourite author’s shelf but it’s also just as lovely listening to authors you don’t know and finding more out about them and their books. So it has something for everyone. I’ve just finished listening to the most recent bonus episode of You’re Booked, with the author Lissa Evans, and I think it might be one of my favourites ever. Evans’ enthusiasm for books and wonderful personality shines through. So if you adore books and authors as much as I do, I’d recommend giving that one a listen.
Hopefully you find something of comfort, something to distract, something to learn or maybe even something to infuriate you and get you hyped up ready to make change happen. Who knows what podcasts can spark with such a variety out there.