Ultramarathon runner Rob Pope looks into ‘What makes a superhuman?’ Radio 1 extra explore why people form pen pal relationships with those on death row, Broccoli presents a special series celebrating women’s history month and bringing us into a relaxing state of being a very much needed mindfulness podcast….

There has been a lot of news and speculation (along with a lot of misinformation) surrounding COVID-19 so far. So, I thought to share with you some trusted podcasts that are following the outbreak:

The Coronavirus Podcast – From BBC Radio 5 Live. Daily episodes featuring the latest from BBC correspondents around the world, as well as your questions answered by carefully chosen coronavirus experts.

New Scientist Weekly – More on the scientific perspective following the spread of the outbreak. A recent episode featured Adam Kucharski, associate professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, on how long we expect this outbreak to last.

If there are any podcasts, or episodes, that you are finding particularly useful, let us know and we might feature it in the next few weeks. If you want to catch up with past issues of the newsletter, you can check them out at greatbritishpodcasts.com

And here are some podcasts worth listening to this week…

How to be Superhuman – Rob Pope is an ultramarathon runner who ran 16,000 miles back and forth across America, an achievement that has resulted in him being called ‘superhuman’ But what makes someone a superhuman? What similar mental and physical challenges have all superhumans faced, and are the challenges they put themselves through really worth it? In this podcast by Red Bull, Pope speaks to Mark Beaumont on breaking the round-the-world cycling record and Diana Nyed, who swam from Cuba to Florida. The best thing about this podcast? The storytelling, woven in with fantastic production skills.

Tell It: My Death Row Pen Pal – An interesting three part series following Rebekah, a 29 year old from Manchester, and her decision to be a pen pal with Charles Thompson, a convict on Death Row in the United States. It’s interesting because the reasons why people decide to start a writing relationship are actually more varied than you first think. Plus, the podcast delves into topics you wouldn’t usually expect, such as: why would you befriend someone that you wouldn’t usually befriend on the street? And how should you feel when they are finally gone?

Anthems – A few newsletters back we recommended Your Broccoli Weekly, a podcast that delves into big talking points in the week with a distinctive style and flair. Now, for Women’s History Month, Broccoli is here with a special series consisting of 31 stories, monologues, poems and speeches all by notable women. 

Zing Tsjeng’s episode stood out for me. A short excerpt: “We’re living in an age where women have to shout louder, work harder and look better to be counted, even as work has become harder, looking good is now a full-time job and everybody is shouting all the time. We have to do all these things on top of being good mothers, great friends, supportive partners and encouraging mentors, successful role models and more.

We can’t be all of those things, nobody can. In this period of Women’s History Month, I want you to forgive yourself.

Get Sleepy – Finally, with a lot of unsettling news at the moment, it’s all the more important to find as many opportunities as possible to switch off and stop those anxieties from running away with themselves. 

This charming little British podcast uses mindfulness, ASMR and relaxing music to help you get to a relaxed state of mind, perfect to listen at the very end of your day. And if you sleep whilst listening? All the more better.

There are quite a lot of big guests on podcasts this week…


Midnight Chats, a podcast featuring an offbeat chats with a well known musician or band, has returned with a conversation with Tame Impala. An upcoming guest: Carly Rae Jepson!

This City, a podcast primarily about London (but always spills into other things) presented by Clara Amfo, this week features the Sugababes.

Folk on Foot, a popular podcast where folk musicians talk and perform in areas that have inspired them, this week features singer and fiddle player Bella Hardy.

On The Marie Curie Couch, a helpful podcast on grief, featuring conversations between a trained bereavement expert and a household name talking about someone they have lost. The most recent episode features Hugh Grant.

As always, if you have a guest coming on your podcast then us to know about it, get in touch through the form.

Finally… Last year we joined forces with Wellcome and launched The Pulse Award, an initiative encouraging podcasters to create content about how new developments on science affects our public health.

One of our winners was Rosie Wilby, presenter of The Breakup Monologues. On the Friday 20th March she’ll be hosting a special edition of her podcast at Kings Place, examining how medical advances mean that, for the very first time, chemical control of our romantic lives is a real possibility. Drugs to make us feel better after a breakup! Drugs to help us delete bad memories from our lives! But what are the ethics? What are the unintended consequences? A panel of scientific experts talk it through.

To book tickets (only £9.50), just head to the Kings Place website.

That’s all for this week. Just a note to say that if you’re feeling anxious at the moment, find a way to make the news work for you. Get updated once or twice a day with the latest info, listen to the latest advice, then move on with your day. Switching on to an endless supply of breaking news helps no-one.

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