With summer now starting to slip away from us (although arguably, it was hardly here to begin with?) this time of year tends to be the time where we take stock and work out what we can improve about our lives.

If you’re thinking about sharpening your health, The Doctor’s Kitchen Podcast, presented by Dr Ruby Aujla, features expert guests talking about how changes in our diet and lifestyle can improve our wellbeing. If you’re on the hunt for recipes, try Cooking with Paula McIntyre, a podcast that tells you how to make a delicious meal in only five minutes or fewer. 

If you’re working out how to improve your finances at the moment, check out Cash Chats, which has had recent episodes on whether it is the right time to remortgage and how to beat energy price rises. Meanwhile, Making the Cut (presented by Davina McCall and Michael Douglas) is a good podcast if you are looking for things outside your comfort zone, be that television shows, culture, trends and more.

If you are looking for a podcast that is all about making you feel better, there’s The Wellcome Collection Podcast, which has just launched a new series on happiness. Their first episode, presented by Bidisha, looks at where our emotions come from with interviews with neuroscientists and historians. There’s also a chat with climate change activist Daze Aghaji and Black Lives Matter activist Ndumiso Peter Ndlovu about how they stay hopeful for positive change at a cynical time.

If you’re looking for more podcasts that help you learn a new skill or pursuit, I put out a request on Twitter and got lots of great suggestions.


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Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead

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The Birthday Cake GameSometimes the simplest podcast formats are the most entertaining ones. This podcast, relaunched on BBC Radio 4, features the celebrated quizmaster and God Tier Twitter user Richard Osman quizzing celebrities to guess how old other celebrities, all of whom are celebrating their birthday that week.

“Does that sound too simple to be a hit?,” ponders Osman. “Well, Pointless is in reverse, and that has been going for 12 years.” The quiz works remarkably well, partly down to Osman’s wit and charisma, but also because you can’t help getting involved yourself. Turns out it is really quite hard to decipher how old someone is without going onto Wikipedia first.

ManatomyThis is an interesting podcast that delves into the insecurities and anxieties men have about their bodies. Presented by broadcaster Danny Wallace and the founder of Shortlist magazine Phil Hilton, they ask a guest to talk about how they see themselves and the pressure they feel, especially if they are in the public eye. A recent episode featured presenter Rick Edwards (who this week was announced as the new host of BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast as Nicky Campbell). Here, he talks about dubious anti-ageing products (“I’ve never ever seen a claim that hasn’t been backed up by an asterisk”) and becoming fixated on your appearance if you’re in the public eye.

Spotify Podcast of the Week – The Way We Are Spotify is delighted to announce a brand new Original podcast with activist, writer and advocate for marginalised communities, Munroe Bergdorf. It’s called The Way We Are and the first episode features Mabel – it drops tomorrow (Monday Sep 6th) but you can hear the trailer for the series here. The 20-episode run will feature a wide range of guests who’ll chat to Munroe about journeys of growth, exploring how the big, the small and the in-between have shaped their perspective today and how this impacts their hopes for tomorrow. Sharing remarkable stories of turning trauma into triumph and adversity into opportunity, every week Munroe and her guest will reflect on the way we were, celebrate the way we are and look forward to the way we will be. Episodes will be released every Monday, exclusively on Spotify. 

Local ZeroCOP26 (or the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference) is taking place in Glasgow later in the year. Many world leaders and policy experts will be there, not long after a dire climate change report warned that the world will face drastic consequences unless more action against climate change is taken. Whilst a lot of the focus in the next few weeks will be judging the promises from the conference, this podcast looks at what we can do as individuals to help stop climate change.

A recent episode featured Dr Alice Bell, behind the climate charity Possible and the author of the book Our Biggest Experiment: A History of Climate Change. “We have to completely transform our world in order to tackle climate change and we need to bring people with us on that,” she said. “So it’s not going to work if someone in Westminster says ‘this is what you should do,’ because a lot of people will turn around and go ‘no’ and that will slow us down. So just to speed us up, we need to involve people. And also from a point of democracy, we should be involved in what it should look like.”

The Tidal Year – The Tidal Year celebrates the joy of swimming. And this series does not just celebrate wild swimming (which has certainly become rather trendy in the past few years), but also the nuances of swimming at lidos, at swimming pools or at bath houses. Each episode, hosted by the writer and wild swimmer Freya Bromley, consists of her asking a guest about how swimming has changed or nourishes their life. 

One episode features a chat with Chris Romer-Lee, who is behind a proposal for a floating lido on The Thames. Of course, a challenge is safety and water quality concerns, but he remains hopeful. “I genuinely believe that this will happen,” he says.

Hearing excerpts from podcasts can be as helpful as reading about them, so I was back on BBC Radio 4 Extra’s Podcast Radio Hour with Chris Pearson this week to share some of my recent favourite British podcasts.

These excerpts include Atlantic – A Scottish Story (a musical theatre podcast all about St Kilda, an archipelago to the North West of Scotland), Finding Q: My Journey into QAnon (an Audible series presented by the journalist Nicky Woolf). Plus Bees in a Pod (a laidback chatty environmental podcast hosted by Rob Beckett) and Short History of… (a fascinating history storytelling podcast hosted by Paul McGann).

We also spoke to Blue Badge tourist guides Alex and Emily from the hit podcast Ladies Who London.

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Categories: Weekly Picks