For the past three years I have been a podcast devotee. These nuggets of entertainment, knowledge and current affairs bring me information, comfort and – sometimes – company, particularly when paired with activities such as walking to work, chores, getting ready to go out… I could go on.
Podcasts are increasing in popularity, but it’s still a lovely surprise when anyone drops into conversation: ‘Oh, I listened to a podcast on that!’ A beam of delight appears when you realise your mutual appreciation, a bit like the dog walkers’ nod, the runner’s wave or a less secretive version of the freemasons’ handshake.
So here are my current staple Top 5 which bring weekly joy. Further recommendations will be added of course and any suggestions are very welcome.
1. The High Low
Hosted by Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, this podcast is an absolute delight which I came across at the end of 2017 and have now caught up with the entire back catalogue. A pop-culture review of high- and low-brow content each week, Pandora and Dolly are a pair of 30-something gals from London who know their way around a well-written article and the latest book to get your mitts on. Often covering feminist issues and the latest current affairs, this podcast feels like you’re listening in to two of your very-well-informed friends having a long chat over a coffee. It’s wonderful.
2. Happier with Gretchen Rubin
Oh where do I begin with Gretchen? I have listened to her since 2015 and she now feels like a distant relative who taught me everything I know…
Gretchen Rubin is an author and podcast host who talks about ‘The Four Tendencies’ – a framework which she created while researching happiness. She discovered that people can typically be categorised as Upholders, Obligers, Questioners and Rebels according to how they respond to inner and outer expectations. This podcast has been a true eye-opener. Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth are an excellent double act and give weekly advice and anecdotes on how to apply the tendencies to everyday life.
3. Desert Island Discs
The Grandmother Willow of podcasts. Broadcast as a show on Radio 4 since 1942, Desert Island Discs is a fascinating insight into the lives of people who have ‘made it’. The castaways (interviewees) choose eight tracks, a book and a luxury item which they would take with them to their desert island while explaining their choices via their life stories. The host, Kirsty Young, is a brilliant interviewer with the most velvety Scottish tones you’ll ever hear. My personal favourite episodes include: Terry Wogan, Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen, Dawn French, Jilly Cooper, Judi Dench, Christine McVie and Kelsey Grammar… to name but a few.
4. Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode – Film Review
Two middle-aged white blokes wittering on about films and stuff. Actually, once you start to listen regularly and begin to understand the in-jokes, this podcast is highly entertaining and has caused me to burst out laughing in the middle of the street on more than one occasion.
A great insight into all of the latest film releases, I find myself generally agreeing with Kermode’s views (with the exception of The Greatest Showman, which was excellent) and delighting in Mayo’s sarcasm and quick responses.
You don’t have to be a film fan to enjoy this podcast – but it will certainly help. Tinkety Tonk Old Fruits…
5. Adam Buxton Podcast
Adam Buxton has mastered the under-rated art of conversation and comes across as genuinely interested in everything his guests have to say.
The introductions featuring Rosie the dog are brilliant and if you aren’t singing ‘Like and Subscribe’ after a few episodes then you’re a better human than me.
Favourite episodes thus far include Episode 067 with Aisling Bea and Episode 073 with Cariad Lloyd.