Presenter Simon Thomas talks to guests who have have been through struggles resulting in trauma, Liz Beardsell reads her diary entries aloud, The Anthill podcast delivers a series on medicine and Jacob Hawley looks at the effects of the British drug culture….

Welcome to what appears to be the 45th consecutive week of winter.

Here are some podcasts that I reckon are worth your time this week:

Life, Interrupted with Simon Thomas – In 2017, former Sky Sports and Blue Peter presenter Simon Thomas lost his wife, and for his son his mother, to cancer. “It forced me down a path that led, to what I can only describe as the darkest times in my life,” Thomas says. “But I had to somehow, out of what happened, learn to be strong for our son. Learn to manage a new normal.” 

In this new podcast series, Thomas talks to others who have at times, struggled in their life, be that as a result of trauma, or because of an underlying other mental health issue. The emphasis in each episode is on their recovery, how they have managed to find hope and have recovered, or lived with what happened. 

In the first episode, Fearne Cotton talks about her experiences of anxiety and imposter syndrome. It’s a feeling that I think is far more universal than we might realise. Thomas tells Cotton: “Speaking to people like you and I have spoken to other people who have… reached the top of their field in broadcasting, they’ve got their sh*t together,” says Thomas. “Yet you speak to them and they’ll say exactly the same thing: ‘There are days I go in and I just don’t think I should be here.’”

By the way, Samaritans are always there for when you need them. That’s why they are there. Contact them 24 hours a day on 116123 or at [email protected].

Diary, She Wrote – I kept a teenage diary every day between the ages of 14 and 18, entries so detailed that I would even include reviews of the service at different Pizza Huts I visited. The presenter of this podcast meanwhile has beaten me hands down. Liz Beardsell has written more than 9000 entries, one entry a day ever since 1994 and in this series, she reads entires out loud.

Other podcasts might have been tempted to have spun it into a comedic skew or have added a layer of modern day superiority, but Beardsell has left her entries fundamentally untouched (only changing names of the people within them). The result is something that feels raw and honest, and makes you give your younger selves more credit than you might usually give them.

The Anthill – Stories from academia in an easy digestible format. They’ve just started a recent series on medicine that is worth a listen, from how recommended dietary advice might end up becoming a lot more personalised in future years to how drugs may be prescribed according to your DNA, depending on the disease. 

Anything that manages to bring research into the public in a thoughtful way always gets my backing.

Jacob Hawley on Drugs – Don’t be misled by the title. This a podcast by the BBC. Now returning for a second series, the comedian looks at the far reaching effects of British drug culture, even to those who have not taken drugs recreationally. The first series looked at the implications of legalisation, the damaging risks of chemsex, and the effects of addiction and psychedelics on our mental health. Now on to its second series, he first looks at whether public donations to the homeless fuel drug addiction, followed by a visit to a homeless hostel to look at the care they provide.

What makes the podcast work so well is Hawley’s thoughtfulness on each issue that comes up, and how open minded he remains from speaking to people on both sides 
of rather divisive issues, even though he is open about his past recreational use. 

If there is a podcast that you think this newsletter should be featuring, let us know and it might feature in a future Sunday newsletter.

And here’s some guests appearing on recent podcasts:
Noah Schnapp from Stranger Things was a recent guest on Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster, whilst Vanessa Williams and David Schwimmer (!) have recently dropped by Jessie Ware’s Table Manners.

Wet and Dry, a podcast about taking a year off alcohol, features Dr Will Alazawi, a consultant Hepatologist, on whether it makes a difference.

Sharon Horgan is a guest on Full Disclosure with James O’Brien.

Finally, What We Do in the Winter, a podcast that looks like the lives of people who live in the rural communities of Mull, Ulva and Iona has spoken to wildlife filmmaker Gordon Buchanan, who lives in Tobermory. 

If you have a podcast, tell us about your guest. No matter if the name is a well-known name or not. Just fill in this form and we will take a look.

That’s all for this week. I leave you with this thought: when was the last time that it wasn’t windy in the UK? It won’t stop.

All the best,

Scotty / @scottygb

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Categories: Weekly Picks