I don’t know about you, but I found the return of Eurovision this surprisingly emotional.

I know I know. It is easy to look down on the contest, with its ridiculous performances and its ludicrously complicated points system. Yet the fact that at its heart it is not just a televisual but an actual event, with an actual live audience, makes me feel that the life we have yearned for so long is likely coming back for good.

If you are still emotionally recovering from the contest last night (and not just the hangover), there’s some great podcasts dissecting the competition. Nul Points, by Laura Cress and Martyn Williams, will be releasing two episodes –one with immediate reaction on the night and one later on with a bit more depth later on the Sunday. For a detailed dissection of the points awarded from the heart of the contest, make sure you listen out for Wiwibloggs: The Eurovision Podcast.

The history of the competition is also a rather fascinating one, because it intricately reflects the complicated history of the continent itself. We Are History, the popular history podcast presented by the writer John O’Farrell and the comedian Angela Barnes, did an interesting special on the contest last year, containing lots of interesting bits of history. One story is that Eastern Bloc got envious of Eurovision during the Cold War so did their own, called Intervision. “People in the country were told to turn on their lights if they liked a song and turn off their lights if they didn’t,” explains Angela. “It would be measured on the National Grid as to which songs were the most popular.”

NEXT WEEK: It’s a Great British Podcast Newsletter special as we’ll be announcing the nominees of the British Podcast Awards 2021 (supported by Amazon Music). All of the nominees will be featured in a special edition of this newsletter, but if you want to find what they are a bit earlier, head to the @britpodawards Twitter on Friday 28th May at 1pm. 

GUESTS ON PODCASTS THIS WEEK

If you have heard a great guest on a podcast, please let us know! Fill in this form and it might get featured in an upcoming newsletter.

  • Jackie Weaver (the one and only) was on the politics podcast The New Normal, talking about her recent fame and ‘attending’ the BRIT Awards. “I still feel pretty grounded because I still do my day job, and certainly to the people of Cheshire, I am Jackie Weaver,” she said. “The person at the end of the phone, the end of an email, answering questions about local councils.”
  • Annie Mac was on That Gaby Roslin Podcast talking about a lot of interesting subjects, including why there continues to be a lack of female headliner DJs at festivals. “As I became a headline DJ, and the Radio 1 profile really helped me to climb up the line-ups and stuff, there were never any women at my level. As I grew older, you could start to see women creep into the lower tiers of festival bills. But there’s still a huge lack of females in terms of middle to headline status, a huge lack of them.” A lot of it is down to the gatekeepers (who tend to be men).
  • The Joe Wicks Podcast has recently returned for a second series, starting with interviews with both Sir Mo Farah and the artist Charlie Mackesy.
  • The Solo Collective, a podcast that is aimed for those who work by themselves (be that freelancers or working at home during a pandemic) has author Elizabeth Uviebinené dropping me to talk about reframing our self-worth.

Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead

If you want your podcast featured, or you have a great recommendation, all you need to do is fill in this simple form and might get featured in a future newsletter.

Michael Spicer’s It Happened To MeYou might recognise Michael Spicer from those ridiculously viral ‘Man Next Door’ videos, where videos of politicians and well-known figures are spliced together with an advisor in another room slowly losing it that the lines they are feeding them are being completely ignored. He’s now launched a new comedy podcast, intricately taking the mic out of those heartfelt personal interviews you often find in podcasts, starting with a (obviously fictional) story of a man who rescued his vinyl collection before he saved his family during a house fire. It’s full of jokes that you’ll find painfully relatable if you know someone like the interviewee (or if, perish the thought, you are like the interviewee themselves).

The Ballad of Anne & MaryThis full-blown swashbuckling musical, exploring the lives of infamous pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read, is impressive when you realise that it sounds like a proper recording of a West End Musical. It’s even more impressive when you learn that it was recorded during the recent national lockdown and that all of its musical stars (which include Christina Bianco, Le Gâteau Chocolat, Karl Queensborough and Sooz Kempner) were recorded separately and were intricately edited together.. Made by the same team as Mockery Manor, the British Podcast Award 2020 ‘Best Fiction’ nominee, this podcast series just shows to me the sheer ambition so many podcasts have these days. Also the care and attention paid into every second.

Spotify Podcast of the Week – DecodeWe’re up to the fifth episode of Decode and this week host Kayo Chingonyi looks at Dave’s collaboration with Burna Boy on ‘Location’, the most streamed track from Psychodrama and a certified dance floor banger. This and the other episodes of Decode examining tracks from Dave’s Psychodrama are available exclusively on Spotify.

Frank Film Club with Maisie WilliamsWhat did Arya Stark do next when she sailed west from Westeros? Well, she launched her own podcast of course. Since the end of Game of Thrones Maisie Williams has gone into producing, launching her own production company, Rapt. She’s now launched a new film club podcast too, where four women talk about films and expand their knowledge by watching a lot of new ones, including black and white films and films not in the english language. “I wanted to start this film club because in order to make a lot of good films, you have to watch a lot of good films,” Williams explains at the start of her very first episode. The emphasis is to create a space where everyone can chat freely, without facing judgements. In a world where film boffins can make you feel inadequate about your film knowledge, all of this feels like a breath of fresh air.

Three Bean SaladFinally, one of the daftest names for a podcast at the moment but also one of the most enjoyable. In each episode comedians Mike Wozniak (fresh out of Taskmaster), Henry Parker and Benjamin Partridge choose a theme chosen by their listeners (lizards! submarines!) and exhaust us on all that they know about it, with many anecdotes thrown in too. 

What they’ve created is a rarity in comedy podcasting: three guys talking about something without them all constantly interrupting each other or attempting to be the funniest one in the room. Other podcasts should take note.

Finally, we should let you know that one of Britain’s biggest podcasts, the awfully smutty, often surreal and delightfully silly My Dad Wrote A Porno returns tomorrow (that’s the 24th May). 

In case you haven’t heard it before the podcast, now on its sixth series, consists of Jamie Morton reading aloud his Dad’s bad erotic fiction to his friends Alice Levine and James Cooper. There have been more than 250 million downloads of the show to date, even resulting in its own HBO television special back in 2019. In case you have forgotten what has happened to the book’s characters Belinda, Hazel, Bella, Tony and the iconic Giselle, there’s a special episode already out with the best bits of Book Five.

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