Well, that was a week in politics I won’t forget in a hurry. More allegations of parties and social gatherings at Number 10. An ‘apology’ by Boris Johnson during Prime Minister’s Questions. Reports of suitcases full of wine being dragged from the local Co-op. And Sue Gray pouring herself a fishbowl of wine wondering why she agreed to look into this. As you would expect, political podcasts have been unpacking what damage these allegations have caused Boris Johnson and what could possibly happen next.
The New Statesman Politics Podcast picked apart at Boris Johnson’s apology in the House of Commons earlier this week. “They were all in the office because they needed to be running the country,” said their political correspondent Ailbhe Rae. “But it meant that mentality that many people had battling down the hatches and having to stay at home, barely leaving the house, was not something that Number 10 really had. It means that they were old mixing and I think the thing no-one is saying their commonsense was telling them ‘well if we’re mixing for work, why can’t we have a drink too?’”
Meanwhile in Coffee House Shots, a daily politics podcast from The Spectator, the team looked at whether the Cabinet are truly backing Boris. “The way that it is now being read is that the Cabinet are backing Boris Johnson, and if he can get through the [Sue Gray] report then he is in a stable position,” said their columnist Katy Balls. “He has got a majority of eighty. It is not the Theresa May years.”
Other podcasts that have been looking at the issue have been Oh God, What Now? (the comedy politics podcast that used to be the Remainiacs) and Red Box by The Times, presented by Matt Chorley. Oh and on the Co-op’s In It Together podcast, host Yasmin Evans has an episode on giving up, or drinking less booze.
NOTABLE NAMES ON PODCASTS THIS WEEK
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- Brené Brown, the New York Times bestselling author and the podcast host of the podcast Unlocking Us, is on How to Fail with Elizabeth Day this week.
- Richard Curtis, the writer and the co-founder of Comic Relief, is on Desperately Seeking Wisdom, a podcast that looks at how we can live a more fulfilling life.
- Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, is on Jimmy’s Jobs of the Future this week. In the episode he talks about his role, how a culture of failure can be a good thing (and how hard that can be in the world of politics) and the importance of looking after our own mental health.
- Psychotherapist and meditation expert Tara Brach is on Happy Place this week.
- On Folk and Foot, a show that mixes folk music and our love of the countryside, features Kathryn Tickell, the award winning Northumbrian pipe player.
Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead
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Now You’re Asking with Marian Keyes and Tara Flynn – We all know that a problem shared is a problem halved, but nobody told me that hearing people solve problems would be such a great listen. Following the success of Between Ourselves, the fiction writer Marian Keyes and the actress Tara Flynn have teamed up once again for a new BBC Sounds podcast where they answer problems sent in from their listeners.
A fairly typical format you might think, but what makes this series stand out compared to others out there is simply that the chemistry between the two hosts is so on point. Plus the fact that there’s so much thought and consideration given to each problem they read out, regardless of whether it is the serious (a listener getting in contact because they have been left out of their father’s will) or the more trivial (a shared communal garden being spoiled because one resident has decided to place plastic flamingo.) Episodes are about thirty minutes a piece and are out weekly.
Now, Where Were We? – At the age of 86, I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue’s Barry Cryer must be one of the oldest podcasters in the country. Here he’s teamed up with his son, the actor and writer Bob Cryer, where they meet up with one of their friends at a local and share anecdotes. That’s it. Barry is sharp as a pin with his stories and recollections, the conversation is never scripted and is always in full flow. They both make podcast hosting seem so easy, when we all know that it is hardly the sort. Recent guests on the podcast include Miriam Margoyles and Stephen Fry.
Panic Room with John Robins – A podcast that attempts to comfort and find solutions to problems during our never-ending depressing news cycle. In each episode the broadcaster John Robins introduces an issue affecting society, be that social media driving political division and then his ‘advisors’ (aka comedians Eshaan Akbar and Olga Koch) have a few minutes each to pitch possible solutions. They then debate which ideas have the most merit.
The enjoyment is that some of the weird solutions that get offered could actually work. For example, to encourage people to think more carefully about the things that they are tweeting, Akbar suggests that your tweets are first read back to you by deep fakes of celebrities you either admire or people who are disappointed at you. Just so you know, this is an Audible Original so you will need to be a subscriber to listen to this podcast, but it does not take up any of your ‘credits.’
Stars In Your Ears – The impressionist Jess Robinson, the ‘woman of 1000 voices,’ has returned with a new series of her British Podcast Award winning series. When you listen, you can see why it won the Best Entertainment category last year. This is less of a comedy and interview podcast and more of a full blown comedy and music production that you would expect either on a stage or on television. There’s an amazing attention to detail in both the comedy segments and the overall sound design. I mean, it even has a full blown musical number for every guest that comes onto the show, from an in-house band called ‘Jessington World Of Adventures.’ Recent guests have included MP Jess Phillips and the actress Samantha Baines.
Once a month I co-host Podcast Radio Hour on BBC Radio 4 Extra with either Laura Grimshaw or Chris Pearson and we share some of our favourite podcasts from over the past month. Some of these podcasts are ones that appear in this very newsletter from Harsh Reality: The Story of Miriam Rivera, Weird Walk with Charlie Cooper and My Family, Mental Illness and Me.
Plus for anyone who is interested in starting their own podcast, I would recommend listening to a recent episode called Tips for New Podcasters, featuring advice from some of the best audio experts in the country.
Also… for a fascinating take on what podcasting might be like in 2022, make sure you read (and subscribe) to Matt Deegan’s On Audio substack newsletter.
Thanks for reading the Great British Podcast Newsletter. We’ll be back next week.