Valentine’s Day is usually an excuse for us singletons to block out the outside world and eat pizza. This year staying in has been mandated by law, so that helps a bit.

So let’s look at some *new* escapist podcasts, shows that take us out of our reality. The first is called New Scientist Escape Pod, which looks at science stories that have nothing to do with the news, aiming to give you a bit of a lift. A recent episode looked at music in a number of different ways: from why guerrillas hum whilst they are eating to hw music has been created just from data tracking the movement of the planets. It really is quite the listen.

Next, there’s Welcome to Spooktown. In each episode a guest is encouraged to tell a spooky story, which is then critiqued by the podcast’s hosts Ed Easton and Kath Hughes. It’s not spooky at all, it’s delightfully surreal, as everyone pretends to be telling their stories in a fictional universe they make up as they go along.

Finally, business guru Mary Portas has recently launched a podcast called The Kindness Economy, which looks at how we’re now parting our money with businesses that try to do good and make a positive change, rather than just making a profit. A particular joy is just hearing about new businesses and the people behind them.

GUESTS ON PODCASTS THIS WEEK:

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Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead

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DuchessI know what you’re thinking. Who? The Duchess of Rutland is Emma Manners, who resides at Belvoir Castle in Grantham. “As a daughter of a Welsh farmer, I grew up far away from the glamour and wealth of aristocracy,” she says at the start of her new podcast. “My life changed forever when I fell in love and married my husband, the 11th Duke of Rutland.” 

She became the custodian of the castle, which is a huge undertaking. In each episode she speaks to other women custodians who look after other historical houses and estates across the country. The first episode features an interview with Demetra Lindsay, the custodian of Hedingham Castle in Essex, rich in history and regularly used as a location for weddings. Whilst not all of us will ever manage a castle or grand estate (please do message me if you do), this podcast is a rather fascinating snapshot of a life we may have a lot of assumptions of, but never learn that much about.

She’s In A Pod A podcast presented by three friends (Sadé, Biana and Jennifer) that has been celebrated as “the safe space for millennial women.” Each episode looks at a different topic in an engaging way, from settling on your career in your late twenties to the importance of consistency in generating results. It’s down to earth, relatable and at times, surprisingly intimate.

Spotify Podcast of the Week: Welcome To Your FantasyWe’re really excited to share Pineapple Street Media and Gimlet’s newest release – Welcome to Your Fantasy – which follows the story of the men who created exotic male dance revue, the Chippendales. It may have made these men very rich, but it also turned them against each other and immersed them in a murky world of crime. Historian Natalia Petrzela hosts – episode 1 is available to listen to on Spotify now. 

SidewaysA particular trend in podcasting has been shows that are crafted specifically to be heard through your headphones, providing a rich and immersive listening experience. We’ve seen it with podcasts such as Tunnel 29, which told the story of the construction of a secret tunnel under the Berlin Wall, as well as George The Poet’s Have You Heard George’s Podcast?, which has won every award under the sun. 

The same sound designer behind George’s podcast, Benbrick, is now involved in this new Radio 4 podcast, presented by the British journalist and author Matthew Syed. It explores some ideas and issues you might know a bit about already, but from an original angle to challenge your expectations, with the first episode looks at Stockholm Syndrome, a situation where hostages bond and side with their captors. 

An issue is that Stockholm Syndrome ended up being used to loosely explain other situations that may have little to do with it. “It just became one of those easy, off-hand ways to explain an incredibly complicated situation, which could have multiple kaleidoscopic situations,” says the author Jess Hill. It gets even more complicated when you learn that a key figure involved in the original hostage claims she never was contacted by some of the world experts on the syndrome, claiming that they have made assumptions from her experience.

Jools and Jim’s JoyrideWe’ve mentioned a few podcasts in recent months celebrating travel. Here’s another, presented by Jools Holland and Jim Moir (aka. Vic Reeves). Each episode features a chat with a well-known name about their favourite transport, but as you would expect from the two hosts, the conversation regularly goes into different (and occasionally) surreal rabbit holes. There’s three episodes already out, including chats with Chris Difford, Jane Horrocks and Bob Mortimer.

A couple of things before we go. Acast are doing a free workshop on the 25th February specifically aimed at LGBTQ+ creators, to mark the end of LGBT History Month. Aclass: Queer Voices is hoping to inspire new and existing podcasters to tell their stories, with lots of tips and advice from industry experts, hosted by comedian Suzi Ruffell from Out With Suzi Ruffell and Shivani Dave, producer of The Log Books.  To register for the webinar, all you need to do is head to their website.

Finally, That Peter Crouch fans. The podcast is coming back with a new series on the 17th February (that’s next Thursday). Just thought you should know.

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