Our guide to the best podcasts to download now
Life in lockdown can be a chance to discover some new things – and podcasts should be towards the top of your list. Alex Spencer reveals some of the best available.
For anyone heading out on their daily walk and looking for something to keep them company, we’ve put together a list of the best podcasts to download to your phone now.
Podcasts cover everything from comedy to books, sport to politics and even true crime. They can be a great way to learn something new to check out an interesting debate.
We've rounded up some of the best available, with something to suit everyone. You can find them by searching on google or by downloading podcast app such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Podbean, Castro or Overcast which will automatically download and keep episodes for you.
Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (RHLSTP)
A celebrity interviewer with none of the sycophancy of other chat show hosts, Richard Herring - once part of the comedy duo Lee and Herring with Stewart Lee - has managed to make himself the king of the chat show podcasts. He’s interviewed everyone from Mary Beard to Stephen Fry, Jonathan Ross and Sarah Millican.
One of his interviews, with comedian Les Dennis, wen viral after the Family Fortunes presenter spoke movingly about the early death of his double-act partner Dustin Gee. But instead of wringing the emotion out of the moment, Lee deadpanned: “ “I wish my double-act partner had died”, to huge laughter from Dennis and the audience.
This podcast leans towards the extremely rude, but will have you doubled over with laughter and making yourself a cause for concern amongst neighbours if you listen to this on your daily walk.
It is presented by Joe Wilkinson, David Earl and Poppy Hillstead and in each episode they read out unsubstantiated rumours sent in by listeners. They range from the typical salacious gossip you may have heard at school to the truly bizarre, of which the ‘spaceworm’ story is the pinnacle.
A weekly show from Radio 4’s Jane Garvey and Fi Glover, this is in the format of a meandering chat between the pair who are joined each week by a new guest. There’s no firm structure to the show but the conversation flows, often with them talking about totally random subjects, and guests can be as varied as historian Lucy Worsley, author and journalist Jonathan Freedland, beauty expert Sali Hughes, scientist Adam Rutherford, or comedian Russell Kane.
Histories of the Unexpected
Sam Willis, presenter of the BBC’s The Silk Road and Invasion! and Professor James Daybell present the chart-topping podcast, Histories of the Unexpected. In it they demonstrate how even the most unexpected of subjects has a history and how those subjects link together in unexpected ways. Find out the weird historical significance of chimney, gloves, Victorian perfumes or windows. They even did an episode on the history of leaning.
Sam explains: “I realised you could do a history of people not liking wonky things. It was all to do with medieval architecture and if you think of the wobbly weaving streets in the Shambles in York the change from that to beautiful straight streets like the Champs Elysee in Paris where everything was mapped and the wonkiness of the medieval was wiped out.”
The Red Box politics podcast
Matt Chorley and a selection of leading Times writers and columnists give their perspective on major national and international stories. Chorley has spent 14 years as a political journalist and in his podcasts he dissects the political news of the day, giving his perspective on major national and international stories, with a selection of journalist colleagues and guests.
Loved reading 80’s bonkbusters such as Jilly Cooper’s Riders or never got over Virginia Andrews’ Flower in the Attic? This fond, funny show will be right up your street. Sentimental Garbage was created by author and journalist Caroline O’Donoghue for anyone sick of feeling guilty about the books you should be reading, but aren’t or annoyed that the books you read don’t seem to “count” as literature. She discusses with guests the chick-lit classics they were raised on, from schmaltzy romances to family comedies to bodice-ripping dramas and investigates why the genre is so often overlooked. One of the funniest is the episode on the mad plots of the Sweet Valley High books, which were a tween obsession in the 80s.
The literary podcast presented by John Mitchinson and Andy Miller claims to give new life to old books. With plenty of podcasts out there discussing new fiction, this one is different in that it looks back on some older and sometimes forgotten books to introduce them to a new audience.
Not afraid to tackle the big subjects, it has recently covered In Search of Lost time by Proust. But other episodes have covered The eclectic nature of the selections is demonstrated in the top ten most popular episodes which include books by Charles Dickens, Toni Morrison, Anthony Powell, Tove Jansson and Penelope Fitzgerald
Andy Miller says: “One of the joys of doing Backlisted has been discovering some amazing books that are new to us, sharing that enthusiasm with one another and then passing it on to listeners. It’s an absolute privilege. We are very lucky.”