Elis James and John Robins started the second series of their mental health podcast How Do You Cope? this week.

In the first episode, George Ezra talked publicly for the first time about his experiences with Pure O, or Purely Obsessional OCD. I’ll let Ezra describe what it is like: “We all know OCD. We hear of extreme cases when people have to flick a light switch a certain number of times before they can leave the house. … Pure O is when you have the thought patterns and the intrusive thoughts without any of the physical actions to relieve them.”

“It feels like you are testing yourself, ‘in this situation, the worst thing you could think is….’ and then you have that thought. Then you’d think, ‘George, don’t have that thought again, and so you do. Then you think, if you’re somebody that can have that thought, does that mean you are this person?”

This is not the first time that he’s spoken up about his mental health (he also hosts a great podcast called Phone A Friend with his friend Ollie MN, covering a range of topics with no judgement), but the conversation he has with Elis and James is a special, honest one. They discuss the fine line between raising awareness by talking about your mental health and protecting your personal life, as well as how aspirational lifestyles can not live up to expectations: “I think in many people’s eyes, I had that. But at the same time I was feeling the worst I’ve ever felt.”

You can listen to the episode here.

Here’s some other guests on podcasts this week:

  • You’re Dead To Me, the beloved history podcast presented by Greg Jenner, has recently returned for a new series. The latest episode looks at the history of the Notting Hill Carnival, speaking to Dr Meleisa Ono-George, a historian on race and empire and the Caribbean, as well as the comedian Nathan Caton
  • Maddie’s Sound Explorers, a neat little series for younger listeners that looks into the sounds we hear every day, featured Met Office weather presenter Alex Deakin talking about thunder. 
  • Might Delete Later, where guests talk about their experiences of social media, has political journalist Marie Le Conte candidly talking about what it is like to be in a Twitterstorm.
  • Slo Mo, a podcast where Mo Gawdat speaks to interesting people, chats to biologist-turned-Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard. He took part in a 12-year study and found that regular meditation alters the structure of the brain.
  • Book Off, a podcast where guests put forward books they love, features author Anthony Horowitz and Richard Osman in the first episode of the new series.

If you have listened to an interesting guest on a podcast recently, let us know by filling in this form and it might get featured in an upcoming newsletter.

Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead

Mid•Point with Gabby Logan – No that dot isn’t a typo, that’s the branding. This podcast is about the challenges, but most of all the opportunities that mid-life can bring. I couldn’t get enough of the chat with Claudia Winkleman in the second episode. The interview starts with this highly relatable and aspirational anecdote about getting older: “What I love about getting older is I didn’t really like the things that you were supposed to do when you were younger and thank god I don’t have to do them anymore,” she said. 

“I don’t have to queue to get into a nightclub. Disgusting! I don’t have to go to a drinks party and pretend I am enjoying myself. It means I don’t have to wear tight, sexy outfits.”

They then discuss how age shouldn’t result in a ‘battle’ to stay young (“why do I want to look young?” Winkleman says. “I looked worse in my twenties”). Their chat was refreshing, breaking the mindset of what you think being at that age is like (if you’re not at that age yet).

From the Oasthouse: The Alan Partridge Podcast – Media reports looking into what really happened behind-the-scenes at the BBC consumer friendly show This Time have not slowed down in recent weeks, but such scandal hasn’t stopped the broadcaster Alan Partridge from releasing his own podcast, which he recorded under lockdown. 

It turns out that Partridge has been a listener podcast for a long while now, as he explained in an interview to his nemesis The Guardian last week (“Nothing beats settling down with a glass of wine and a plate of sandwiches to be entertained by the ins and outs of a man found battered to death in a hedge”). He’s started his own to get closer to his fans, also because he’s able to get round Ofcom regulations. It starts with an episode where he puts the record straight on a whole range of issues, in particular: Twitter trolling (“I always felt better after I defamed someone after amending their Wikipedia page, but I’m not proud of it.”)

FYI you need to be an Audible subscriber to listen to the podcast and you have to purchase it with one of your ‘credits’ (aka it’s not one of their free podcasts). But you do get 18 episodes and more than six hours of Partridge material if you do.

Masala Podcast – Sangeeta Pillai’s British Podcast Award-winning Masala Podcast is now exclusively available on Spotify. Sangeeta was also one of the winners of the Spotify Sound Up podcast accelerator in 2018, and season one of the podcast garnered rave reviews as well as an incredibly dedicated following. The podcast discusses taboos with a range of incredible South Asian women, and episode one of season two welcomes comedian Shazia Mirza as a guest.

[Chosen by Spotify]

Futile Attempts (At Surviving Tomorrow) – How to describe this podcast? It’s mightily tricky. It’s done by Kim Noble, a performance artist and comedian. In this series, he’s come to realise that he’s screwed up countless times and is trying to make amends in his life, which results in him making yet more mistakes and getting himself in a deeper hole. It’s hard to work out what is real and what isn’t (his anecdotes are mixed in with recordings positioned under his coat talking to ordinary members of the public) and after a while, weirdly, you end up not minding either way. The best way to work out whether it is for you is by listening. It’s also absolutely not suitable for younger ears.

VENT Weekly – What is it like to be a young person in such an unpredictable, anxiety inducing year? In this interesting series, a partnership between VICE UK and Brent 2020 (the London Borough of Culture), young people in the borough were given microphones and the opportunity to talk about the subjects they care about, and were offered interviews with experts who can help provide them with some answers. By cutting out a typical interviewer in this way, you get a rawness and honesty you don’t tend to see much in traditional forms of reporting.

The first set of episodes looked into identity (such as how non-diverse universities impact Black, Asian and minority ethnic students). The newer, second set of episodes look into a myriad of issues young people face in relation to sex and relationships.

Also… just to keep it on your radar, the Tour de France has kicked off (later than usual) so the ITV Cycling Podcast has picked up again, with reaction and analysis of each stage of the tour.

If you are on the hunt for some more podcasts, I’m back on Podcast Radio Hour on BBC Radio 4 Extra with Amanda Litherland, where we talk about and play excerpts of our favourite podcasts out at the moment (some of which have been featured in this email). These include the career series Media Tribe and Two Shot Podcast with Craig Parkinson, surreal comedy Poppy Hillstead Has Entered the Chat, the deep dive and the haunting Hiroshima series, The Bomb.

Categories: Weekly Picks