podcasts for lockdown (and beyond) – part 2

I’m back again with more podcasts to spice up your lockdown. I’ve got some long running, some pacy stand alone series’ and even some completely new ones because of course, what else would people do during a pandemic than start a podcast. Unfortunately, I don’t think I have the voice for it, which would be why I’m here writing instead.

Grounded with Louis Theroux

Starting with the man who’s lovely photo is gracing the top of this post, Louis Theroux is making the most of lockdown to branch out into the realm of audio and use this time when everyone’s stuck at home to get to chat with interesting people without busy work schedules getting in the way. I’ve been a big fan of Theroux since I first watched his weird weekends series back in high school and have watched pretty much everything since. So I was really looking forward to this and then I find that his first guest is Jon Ronson, who I’m possibly an even bigger fan of (don’t tell Theroux that though). Anyway it was one of my favourite podcast episodes ever, I loved getting to hear them both so casually in conversation, it was fun but also got rather deep and covered all sorts of different things from lockdown anxiety (and a lack thereof), ethics when making content on the likes of neonazis or jihadists and even the rivalry between the two men whose paths have crossed so often. I love Jon Ronson’s voice and Louis Theroux’s is just as distinct. It’s bound to have plenty of interesting episodes with Theroux’s signature interview style always allowing us the most fascinating insight into peoples lives. I’m looking forward to the episode with Miriam Margolyes, she’s one hell of a woman and a wonderful one at that.

The Guilty Feminist- The New Normal

As I’ve mentioned before when talking about the book of the same name, I love the The Guilty Feminist podcast. And now to get us all through lockdown, Deborah Frances-White, both the author of the book and host of the podcast has created The New Normal. These are Instagram live streams with a different guest every weekday at 6 o’clock, but can also be streamed as a podcast. Instead of the usual Guilty Feminist set up, friends of the podcast talk about how they’re coping with this entirely new situation thrust upon every one of us and their thoughts on it all. There will be lots on how guests are managing as well as their perceived successes and failures while in lockdown, providing comfort and a sense of calm and belonging in such a difficult time for many. So far there have been loads of 10/10 guests, like Phoebe Waller-Bridge (who’s episode is on the usual podcast), Mae Martin, Jamie Windust, Amika George and Sara Pascoe. There’s plenty of laughs and many shared fears and concerns and with over 30 episodes already, you can’t run out of lockdown entertainment.

Table Manners with Jessie Ware

Table manners has one of the loveliest interview styles I’ve ever came across. Musician Jessie Ware and her mum Lennie invite guests over, cook them a wonderful meal and talk about all things food as well as basically any possible topic under the sun. It makes for a very casual and friendly conversation with all sorts of interesting guests, including just recently John Legend, Florence Pugh and Emily Maitlis. I love all the talk of food even though I know very little about it and I am a pretty terrible cook and an even worse baker. I can do the decorating bit (I won a prize in school for my 3D Easter bunny made out of icing) but just don’t try eating any of it. Jessie and Lennie make what sounds like the most glorious food which will be sure to leave you feeling a bit hungry, so it’s handy they’ve also got a Table Manners cookbook out now as well. Like Lennie, I’m hoping they manage to get the stars of Normal People on the podcast as they always seem to create a lovely fun atmosphere which I think would complement the actors perfectly.

Science Rules! with Bill Nye

Bill Nye is possibly one of the most enthusiastic people ever, there’s literally never a dull episode with him, so it’s virtually impossible not to love this podcast and enjoy all there is to learn. Each episode features a new topic with an expert in that field and as well as general discussion, it’s also a call-in show so they take listener questions. Every episode has something completely new to learn and I love being kept up to date on current science and discoveries. Recently this has been expanded with two extra shorter coronavirus special episodes every week with a new expert in relation to the current pandemic and all the different issues surrounding it. Featuring scientists, economists and more, answering viewers questions and keeping everyone up to date on the facts and providing reassurance when so many different stories and so much different advice is going around. So as well as having an already great weekly show, it’s also got some extras to help keep everyone well informed during lockdown.

The Missing Crypto Queen

Where do I even start with this 8 part series of craziness. Jamie Bartlett, author of The People vs Tech and The Dark Net, takes us through the story of One Coin, a crypto currency like bitcoin except it’s fake (would be best to let him do the explaining). He looks at how so many people were tricked into putting their money into it and primarily they’re on a hunt for it’s elusive founder Dr. Ruja Ignatova, who just so happens to have gone missing, as has the billions of dollars that were gained through the scam. Nothing at all weird about that. No matter your knowledge of crypto currencies, Bartlett and the producer, Georgia Catt, manage to make a mystery involving something so many people find completely inaccessible, into a suspenseful and at times gripping and tragic tale of one hell of a scam. Following the traces she’s left behind they end up all over the place, from a beauty pageant in Romania to an expensive housing area in Frankfurt. And god does it leave you on the edge of your seat, I couldn’t stop listening till it finished. It’s an entertaining one for sure, I just hope they’re coming back with more soon.

The Gurls Talk Podcast with Adwoa Aboah

Thankfully the new series of The Gurls Talk Podcast is back just in time for when we could all do with a feeling of community and a lil extra strength. Featuring loads of comforting and inspiring guests covering all sorts of much needed and important topics like mental health, self worth, inclusivity, toxic masculinity, motherhood and disability, the list quite literally goes on and on. Honesty, empathy and hope runs throughout the entire podcast and the appreciation for the talents within the community of listeners through their writing and poetry, etc is a lovely thing to see. I loved the recent episode with Lucy Sheridan on “breaking the comparison trap and the power of self confidence”, it was super helpful and with such a big topic they still managed to keep things light and have some laughs.

Jon Ronson’s The Last Days of August

As mentioned before, I love Jon Ronson’s work and this podcast is no exception. This is a kind of follow on from his first podcast, The Butterfly Effect (counted as the first season of The Last Days of August on apple podcasts), which looked at the rise of free porn sites, such as porn hub, a lot of which were created or bought over by Fabian. Now Fabian, who’s name I can still to this day hear in my head in Ronson’s voice, has an aquarium in his house that is so big it needs its own diver, so although Fabian hadn’t intended to leave the people involved in the porn industry out to dry, he has certainly profited a lot from it. Ronson then went deeper into the consequences, both good and bad, that followed from Fabian’s idea and the ways in which the porn industry was having to adapt to still make money. This was done through things like custom porn (wait till you hear about stamps man) and having to fit every single search word in the title to up your views (stepdaughter cheerleader orgy). The second series went to a darker side of the porn industry, with the tragic suicide of the well known porn performer August Ames. The mystery and suspicion surrounding her death and the events that led up to it. There are many twists and turns and lots of revelations and when it comes down to it so much came together to lead to her death. In both series’, Ronson takes a very in depth look into the porn industry in all its flaws but also the lighter side, the friendliness and why people gravitate to such an industry. I found them both unimaginably interesting and I always love some (good) taboo breaking.

The Waterstones Podcast

One of my favourite literary podcasts to date, I’m always looking forward to the next calming and cheerful episode of The Waterstones Podcast. From the likes of Ann Patchett, David Nicholls, Candice Carty-Williams and Zadie Smith, they feature authors from across the genres with a new theme every episode for the guests to discuss. Ever helpful in these times the recent episodes have covered themes such as togetherness, coping with change and kindness. I love this layout for the episodes where you hear so many different great writers give their thoughts in such a relaxed atmosphere and learn more about their writing, as well as finding new authors of interest. Plus ya know, hearing about all the wonderful new books and never coming away without more to add to the reading list.

I’ve been finding lots of new podcasts lately and listened to a lot of really great episodes which might be a bit much for one post, so I think there will be another podcast recommendations type post coming soon. Although if you’re anything like me you won’t be needing any more shows as I’m struggling to keep up as it is, which I think is because I usually do most of my listening on journeys which there are obviously far fewer of now. Looks like there’s talks of lockdown restrictions changing, in the uk at least, so maybe soon enough these will be less lockdown listens and more for the beyond part, whatever that looks like. Until then I guess we just gotta get Theroux this.

—T

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