Five podcasts to get you into podcasts

July 3, 2016


Feel a bit left out of all the online chatter about podcasts, but don’t know where to start? Dubai is the perfect city to listen to them (eg lots of time in the car…) and with literally thousands out there to try, with a bit of exploring you’ll find exactly what you need to liven up those commutes/traffic jams/hours spent outside a busy school at pick-up time. Here are a few of my favourites…

woman's hour
A true institution, this BBC Radio 4 programme has been broadcasted for since 1946. I always assumed it was a bit old for me (Ha! In total denial, clearly), but the range of mostly female guests cover such diverse topics, from politics and women in sport to insomnia and fertility that there will be something to interest you on every show. There are also celebrity contributors, from Christine Lagarde and Angelina Jolie-Pitt to Mary Berry and Helen Mirren, plus women from all over the world who are doing something special or want to speak their minds in a female-friendly forum.
The podcasts are around 45 minutes long, and are available daily for free via podcasts on your iPhone, or you can download here.
 my dad wrote a porno
Not one for the prudish – or if there are kids in the car – this podcast is utterly hilarious, but total filth (as you’d expect) in a very cringey, teeth gritting way. It kept me entertained during hours of travelling in the back of a minivan in Sri Lanka when reading made me feel sick, and I think my husband was thoroughly fed up with my endless cackling (“I can’t explain! You need to hear this!”).
The premise is that 20-something Jamie Morton’s dad wrote an ‘erotic novella’ and, instead of wanting to kill it with fire, as my reaction would be, he has gathered his friends James Cooper and Radio 1’s Alice Levine to join him to read a chapter per week, with 18 mortifying instalments. It’s as embarrassing as you’d imagine, with bizarre descriptions and a frankly terrifying understanding of the female anatomy, which results in accidental comedy gold. Poor Jamie.
His dad has already written a sequel to his debut bonkbuster Belinda Blinked, so catch up on the first season now, before the gang release the new material on July 4.
 answer me this
The podcast that got me into podcasts, this award-winning show is the work of two friends, Helen and Olly (plus her husband Martin). Put simply, their loyal listeners get in touch to ask them anything, with the duo scouring sources to bring interesting and very entertaining answers on topics as broad as vegetarian weddings, the origins of circus music, how hair transplants work, and gondolas. In 40 minutes you’ll learn all sorts, from facts to make a bit handy in the next pub quiz to the totally useless.
 desert island discs
Ahhhh, the classic. Such a simple format, but one that has attracted mega celebrities and hugely important people in their field to share what eight songs they’d take to a desert island (plus a book and oft-agonised over luxury. Mine would be a bed. Or wine cellar. The debate continues).
The answers might surprise you – Ed Miliband choosing Robbie Williams’ Angels was a low point – as guests guide you through not only their musical tastes, but their childhood and history, as the delightful Kirsty Young asks all the right questions.
At 35 minutes they’re the perfect length for my drive home, though the recent Tom Hanks interview was extended to 45 minutes (because he’s a legend) and was well worth sitting in my car outside the house, crying as he cried for all the world to hear. Listen to it here.
Surprisingly, the guests I enjoy most are often people I’ve never heard of, with courageous doctors and professors leaving listeners with a truly personal insight into their lives.
Speaking of sitting in the car listening to podcasts, Serial is the perfect example of addictive broadcasting. I’m the first to admit that the second season was a little disappointing, but if you’re yet to hear the perfection of the first, I envy you.
With Sarah Koenig telling ‘one story, week by week’, this is long-form journalism at its best, with real time discoveries. The first season looked at the 1999 murder of high school student Hae Min Lee, and investigates the investigation. Was her ex boyfriend really to blame? What more could have been done? As new witnesses and evidence comes to light in real time, Sarah and her team (with support from This American Life‘s Ira Glass) uncover information that has changed the future of the case. The phenomenon led to spin-offs, a huge following and online forums going mental. Let’s not talk about the second season, but I have high hopes for number three.
What are your favourites? I’d love any recommendations.

3 responses to “Five podcasts to get you into podcasts”

  1. I’ve been meaning to get into podcasts for a long time, so this is the perfect post for me! I have subscribed and excited to start listening!

  2. Sandra says:

    LOVE Serial! (And I also tried to pawn it off on my husband …) My favorite podcast though is still This American Life – it’s just so consistently great! xx

  3. Paula says:

    Love Serial, and if you’re into Sciency stuff, try out The Infinite Monkey Cage!

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