It feels rather surreal to be approaching the first anniversary of lockdown. I have an app on my phone that reminds me of the photos I took this day last year. By now, most of my photos consist of relieved purchases of hand sanitiser. Sometimes I wish I could tell my younger self how long this new reality will last, but another part of me feels so nostalgic for the time I was so unaware of what was to come. There was a lot we did not know.

In Covid Confidential, a new two-part podcast out this week, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg explains what the days leading up to the lockdown were like for government ministers and officials. Talking about the early COBRA meetings, Kuenssberg says: “One politician said the early meetings with the Prime Minister were dreadful and inside Number 10 senior staff’s concerns about the government’s ability to cope grew, whilst a debate raged over tough [lockdown] was to be.”

FT Tech Tonic has also launched a new mini-series, highlighting how the pandemic has accelerated our transition to a digital world. Lockdowns have meant that we have been dependent on our devices: from schooling, to work, to entertainment and more. Yet it has also played havoc on our data, our privacy and our work life balance. At its heart, the series talks about how trends that were expected to take years have happened in months, and how our world won’t switch back to what it was before.

Finally The Body Protest, a podcast that hopes us all to have a better relationship with ourselves, is back with a special episode full of recommendations to make us feel good. An opportunity from lockdown ending is that it allows us to stop things that no longer serve us. How many times in our lives are we going to get a restart like this?


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Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead

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Cautionary Tales with Tim HarfordEconomist Tim Harford, who you might recognise from the great BBC podcast How to Vaccinate the World, is also behind this compelling history podcast that explores things going in our past, in the hope of preventing things going wrong in the future. It is also a look at times within our history when, unintentionally, a Pandora’s Box has been opened. In one episode, looking at the legacy of “ultimate nursing icon” Florence Nightingale, Harford talks about her skill as a statistician and her legacy of charts and graphs being used to explain a situation. The issue is whether graphs are used to reflect a situation, or are used to persuade others. “People have lived or died because of the decisions they have made after looking at a chart on Facebook,” says Harford. “Shouldn’t we worry about how that power is used?”

Call Me Mother – Over the last year there has been a growing interest in LGBTQ+ history and the trailblazers within those communities, from The Log Books (looking through the archives at the charity callline Switchboard), to Russell T Davies’ acclaimed series It’s A Sin. However, stories about some pioneering individuals are still hard to come by, partially because our education system continues to ignore them, but also because some stories just fall through the net.

In this new series, author and journalist Shon Faye talks to queer elders, who all have uplifting, unexpected ansd inspiring stories you might not know anything about. There’s also an emphasis that our lives are forever evolving. “Understanding of our identity, our sexuality and our queerness isn’t something that stops when we reach a certain age,” she says. “It’s a lifelong process of discovery and discussion.”

Spotify Podcast of the Week: Rose & Rosie – This week, Spotify’s pick is an intriguing episode of Rose & Rosie: Parental Guidance. Not even Rose and Rosie could’ve predicted the events of the past year and they thought they’d seen it all when they dipped their toes in (and very quickly back out) of the black market sperm circles at the very start of their journey to parenthood. The lack of access to more legitimate avenues during the pandemic has seen more prospective parents searching socials for sperm – and Rose & Rosie are on the cusp of uncovering some serious corruption. Rose & Rosie’s podcast is available to listen to exclusively on Spotify!

Meet Me At The MuseumWe’re all counting down the days until our culture re-opens again (hopefully this time for good), but until then there’s another series of this award-winning podcast where a household name walks around a popular (and empty) museum and talks about its exhibits and what they’ve learnt. It’s appeal is its relaxed style and the facts that come up along the way. There’s two new episodes out so far:  author Elizabeth Day walking round the Imperial War Museum and comedian Fern Brady visiting the Roman Baths in Bath. 

Skin Tings Another new podcast featuring in-depth interviews with musicians, presented by another musician, which always gives it that extra level of interest and detail. This new one is Skin from the iconic band Skunk Anansie, hence the name. There’s chats so far with Paul Weller, Shirley Manson and Billy Corgan, but newer artists that are breaking through at such a weird time, such as Arlo Parks. The chats are first featured on her show on Absolute Radio, but then released in full as episodes. 

Last week we mentioned a number of podcast mashups that were created to raise money for Red Nose Day. The team at No Such Thing As A Fish also did a special 20 hour podcast to raise money too. You can listen to a bit of it here, and to donate just head to the Comic Relief website..
Another podcast before we go … if you have been watching The Circle on Channel 4 (the show where people shout “SMILEY LAUGH OUT LOUD SEND” at a wall), there’s now an official podcast accompanying both the celebrity and the public series. Dishonest Fun: The Circle’s Official Podcast picks apart each episode, but it also features interviews with psychologists. It’s very much in the vein of Bit on the Side from those Big Brother days.

Categories: Weekly Picks