Let’s start with a couple of interesting music podcasts that have come about recently. The first is called Reverberate, from The Guardian, looking at times when music was a key part of a major historical news event.

Their latest episode looked at the former dictatorship of Panama by Manuel Noriega, who fled from office after the country was invaded by US forces in 1989. Holed up in the Vatican Embassy in the city, American forces decided that the best way to get him out was by blasting music through loudspeakers at the building on loop, including Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” and AC/DC’s “Panama.” 

Another well researched music history podcast is Notable, presented by broadcasters Stuart Maconie and Elizabeth Alker. In a recent episode they look at the towns with a music scene that has punched above their weight, such as Rochdale. One clue is the presence of art schools and the way that art was taught at the time. Another episode looks at the infamous trip by Elvis to Scotland (well, Prestwick Airport anyway.)

Finally, if you’re interested in a music podcast featuring interviews with musicians, a new one on the scene is Rockonteurs presented by Gary Kemp and Guy Pratt.Their most recent episode featured an interview with Johnny Marr from The Smiths.

GUESTS ON PODCASTS THIS WEEK:

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  • Well Far: The Running Podcast has returned for a new series, with a special episode on getting into running in 2021. Guests include running experts Rory Knight and Omar Monsour who says: “If you are starting from scratch – or maybe you haven’t run for many months due to the pandemic and all the other challenges – the best way is to literally go out there and see what you can do at a comfortable pace. Try not to measure yourself against what you remember yourself running and just accept where you’re at.”
  • On the Marie Curie Couch, a podcast where a bereavement expert talks with a guest about the death of someone, actor Jason Isaacs talks about losing his mother. This podcast is an essential listen for anyone experiencing grief.
  • Brexit Ready, a podcast looking at challenges businesses are facing with Brexit, is back with a new episode. In the episode guests include Sacha Schoenfield (an expert in immigration), Stephen Sidkin (an expert in food labeling).
  • Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster has returned for a new series. Their first guest of the season is the popstar Anne-Marie.
  • Ayesha Hazarika MBE joined the Spit or Swallow podcast, where comedians Lou Conran and Sally-Anne Hayward are joined with a guest with their fav brew.
  • The Mo Gilligan Podcast returned for a second season this week. Joining Mo is Micar Richards, the former Manchester City and England footballer.

Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead

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In Writing with Hattie Crisell I was very excited to hear about the return of this podcast, where journalist Hattie Crisell interviews writers of all kinds about how they do their jobs. So far there have been interviews with storyteller Jon Ronson, novelist Mhairi McFarlane and novelist Kit de Waal. It’s now back for its third series, starting with a conversation with playwright and screenwriter Lucy Prebble, behind the acclaimed I Hate Suzie, Enron and A Very Expensive Poison. 

She is also one of the writers on the acclaimed HBO series Succession. In case you have been wondering whether the third season will ever arrive, have no fear. “Lucy told me that the guy in charge of making the shoot COVID safe has previously worked managing disaster relief in Haiti,” says Hattie, “so that gives you some idea of how seriously they are taking it.”

What is particularly fascinating is how each writer has their own way of working. Some writers have a super structured working space and keep everything meticulous, others write in space that can only be described as chaotic with writing right up to the last minute. A reassurance to those who do the same with their own work.

Alan Carr’s Life A Beach –  A discussion on the ethics of going on holiday to a country with a questionable human rights record is not something I would expect in a podcast hosted by Alan Carr, but here we are! It was an interesting discussion too. Joining Carr in his first episode was the comedian and TV traveller Romesh Ranganathan, who talked about the importance on showing both the sides of a country the government want you to see and not see, the complexities in filming in Ethiopia and the time they both participated in La Tomatina tomato throwing competition in Italy.

At a time when we can’t easily travel abroad, I find podcasts (and TV shows) about travel strangely reassuring. It makes me realise that what we’re currently going through is not normal and that a trip abroad to somewhere exciting is going to be a possibility for a substantial part of our lives, even if we can’t right now.

Spotify Podcast of the Week: Rose & Rosie: Parental Guidance returned for season two this week and follows YouTubers and married couple Rose and Rosie on their journey towards parenthood. We found out in the Christmas special that they’re expecting a baby and season 2 will follow their very special little guest getting bigger by the day and giving insight into everything from cravings to morning sickness to scans! If you missed season one, it’s all available to listen to exclusively on Spotify too.

Catching Melanie’s Killer – A True Crime Podcast by ITV NewsHow do you try to solve a murder case that was remained unsolved for decades? This was the challenge detectives faced with the murder of the schoolgirl Melanie Road, who was killed whilst returning from a nightclub in June 1984. Despite one of the biggest manhunts in British history, it was only in 2015 when police caught and finally jailed her killer.

ITV News correspondent Robert Murphy tells the story of those 32 lost years and the endless grief and heartache that caused to those who knew her. He also tells about how the detectives managed to finally jail the person responsible, including a detective who, despite not knowing her, felt a connection to the case because she was around the same age as the victim at the time: “That social scene that she had been so much a part of, I subsequently was a part of,” said DCI Julie Mackay. All of the episodes are available to listen to now.

Made of Stronger Stuff – Finally, here’s a new podcast full to the brim with facts about the human body, presented by Kimberley Wilson and Dr Xand Van Tullekin. Each episode looks at a different organ, most recently looking at our lungs and how some people are able to hold their breaths underwater for so long (up to six and a half minutes) as well as the connection between breathing and mindfulness. Whilst it does dabble on coronavirus, it’s a nice change to be hearing a health related podcast that looks at health topics too. New episodes are out once a week.

One more podcast I’m mentioning before we go – AudioBook Club. There are many podcasts out there that review books, but this is the first one I’ve seen that celebrates audiobooks. Millions of people listen to audiobooks, either through love or because of reading difficulty. What I like about this one is how they play excerpts of the book before discussing its themes, their first episode looking at Hell Cats by Carina Rodney.

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