If you’re looking for some great audio to keep you company this Christmas, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s start with The Allustionist, a podcast hosted by Helen Zaltzman that delves into the world of language. In this delightful Christmas special, the most frequent words in festive songs are investigated, to see whether, taken together, they can make the ‘ultimate’ Christmas record (well, a song that’s suitable for 2020 anyway).
Next, Sir Paul McCartney joined The Adam Buxton Podcast on his podcast this week, where they talked about McCartney’s love for Homes Under The Hammer, Storage Hunters and Would I Lie To You? Yes. Really. They do talk about other stuff too, such as McCartney’s love for a quesadilla. It’s a wonderful, unpredictable, meandering chat.
Robbie and Ayda Williams are also back with two new episodes of their At Home With The Williamses podcast. They highlight those who have helped others this year and start with a rant against COVID. In contains *a lot* of swear words, by the way.
Also, listen out for Rylan Clark-Neal’s interview on Grounded with Louis Theroux. It’s fascinating. It’s a discussion about how he managed to make the transition from reality star to Radio 2 broadcaster. Rylan talks about the legacy of Big Brother from his own diary room, his public persona vs his private self.
GUESTS ON PODCASTS THIS WEEK:
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- World snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan joins Track and Ball, a podcast where sporting stars Ellen White and Richard Whitehead interview a sporting star.
- Chris Hewitt and Sam Clements join Bah Humbug: A Christmas Movie Podcast, to talk about the films Noelle and Fred Claus
- Singer-songwriter Róisín Murphy is the latest guest on The Spark Parade, where guests talk about the single work that has inspired them.
- Charlie Brooker, behind Black Mirror and the upcoming Netflix special Death to 2020, was the latest guest on the computer game themed podcast Extra Life.
- Mel C is the latest guest on Her Spirit, a podcast that tries to inspire women to become healthier, with a review of 2020.
Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead
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The Missing – More than 100,000 people are missing across the world at any one time. In the UK, 960 people also go missing every single day. Whilst 99% of them are tracked down, 1% of cases are still unsolved, causing considerable pain to their loved ones as well as, of course, a lack of closure. In this thoughtful new podcast series (presented by Pandora Sykes from The High Low), a different missing person’s story is featured in each episode, the story made in collaboration with the missing person’s friends and family, with the hope that someone listening might have vital information that can then be used to solve the case. The series also has the backing of the charity Missing People along with the investigators Locate International. It’s a great idea and podcast too. One that can certainly make a difference.
The Brian Butterfield Pod-Pod-Podcast – An utter joy that Brian Butterfield has now got his own podcast. A comedy creation by Peter Serafinowicz, Butterfield gained a cult following by flogging a series of baffling diet plans as well as an international hotel (a review of the hotel: “he kept referring to it as a hotel, but it was just his office. One of the pillows was made of printer paper”). He’s now back with his own interview series. Here’s what the episode notes say: “Write a brief description of the episode, explaining any interesting elements within it that might entice listeners to subscribe.” It also notes that episodes will be released bi-decadal, which means the next episode will be December 2040. Part of me wonders whether this is a joke, but another part wonders whether it is true.
Spotify Podcast of the Week: Spotify have collaborated with The Athletic on their flagship football podcast this week to bring you a story about an American Football coach, Terry Smith, taking over Chester City FC in 1999. He promised European football for the club, and promptly sacked the manager and installed himself. As you can imagine, it didn’t go well. This episode is presented by Mark Chapman and goes through the ups and downs of Smith’s time at the club – listen exclusively on Spotify here.
London Pub Reviews (ft. Tim Key) – I know. The irony of recommending a podcast about pubs in the same week that many of them have closed as much of the country has entered Tier 3 and 4. Yet this scripted series, based on the book by Paul Ewen and read aloud by Tim Key from Alan Partridge’s This Time, is there to give you warm flashbacks to the good old days. It’s also a celebration about why pubs are an integral part of British life. Each episode contains a fictional review of a pub from someone who has had a *few* drinks, the first episode set at the iconic French House in Soho, London. Each episode is only seven minutes long, a blessing. Long live short podcasts.
My Life In TV – Alison Hammond has a new podcast where she interviews stars about their favourite television, but honestly the whole thing is just a great excuse to listen to Alison Hammond. She’s such a great presenter because she constantly rips up the rule book about how things should be done. In a recent episode Hammond interviewed Scarlett Moffatt about how she landed Gogglebox (“I got a £50 and a free takeaway, bob’s your uncle”) and her love for old favourites like Blind Date. Whilst talking about Ant and Dec on SM:TV Live, she talked about the importance of having someone that shares your regional accent on TV (“they spoke the same as me and there wasn’t anyone who spoke the same accent as me… it was always quite posh people really.”)
If you are looking for more enjoyable podcast listens for the Christmas period, there are many in the latest episode of Podcast Radio Hour with Amanda Litherland on BBC Radio 4 Extra. I joined Amanda to share some of my most recent favourites. These include Clara Amfo and Amber Butchart’s Fashioned on Audible, Samira Ahmed’s interview with Graham Norton on How I Found My Voice.
Finally, Dan Snow’s History Hit, a popular British history podcast, just celebrated their most popular episode yet. In the episode, Snow accompanies 80 year-old John Watts to an RAF museum in Cosford, after being told that a bomber from the same squadron that his Dad flew in had been recovered and was being restored. His father, Commander Joseph Watts, died during a mission, shortly before John was born:
Dan Snow asked John on what it is like to tell his Dad’s story. “All my life he’s been there, but I’ve had no occasion to talk about him, especially at length, or to make anything of it, or indeed properly to celebrate him,” he responded. “This is 80 years ago, he died. I feel hugely pleased and relieved to be here with somebody who cares to listen.”
Have a wonderful and safe Christmas. We’ll be back with another podcast newsletter just before the New Year.