Something I’ve learnt this year is that some of the best podcasts to come out of lockdown have very little to do with the lockdown or the pandemic at all. 

Grounded with Louis Theroux is one of those shows, where the documentary maker chats to someone he’s interested in via a video call. The first series was popular (it also contained the filthiest interview with Miriam Margoyles ever made). The second series has just started, with Theroux chatting to Michaela Coel, behind the acclaimed BBC series I May Destroy You.

In the interview Coel talked about how she was initially concerned how Destroy You’s themes would not sit right in the middle of the pandemic. She also talked about the elements of the plot that have been debated since the show aired (“What I think is really interesting is that we look at the actions of somebody else and, based on our experiences, we see it a certain way and depending on our trauma, we deem the person bad, good, right, wrong,she said.) 

The interview is an interesting mix of Theroux’s inquisitiveness and Coel’s honesty. You can listen to the episode on BBC Sounds.

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The Secrets in UsEvery advert on the internet seems to be for these at-home DNA tests at the moment, but what if you tried one and the result you got back were not what you were expecting at all? This is the premise of this fascinating series, hosted by journalist and writer Georgina Lawton, who explores the issue by first telling us her own story: “It might sound bizarre, but for most of my life I was raised by my loving white family, with no explanation as to why I didn’t look like anybody else,she said.

Her parents were reluctant to talk to her about it. “In the absence of any meaningful dialogue about my race with those who I was closest to, I swallowed my confusing family narrative because I was a child who wanted desperately to belong.” At the age of 23 she took a DNA test and the first episode features an interview with her mother about the results. During the interview you could have heard a pin drop.

The series explores the secrets within our own families and the consequences of facing them. Like other Audible Original podcasts, you need to be a subscriber.

Table Manners with Jessie WareThe podcast where the singer Jessie Ware interviews well-known guests with her mother Helena, has been a favourite for many because of its loose structure and unpredictability. This week they managed to land their biggest ever guest: Dolly Parton. 

In the interview we learn that Dolly has crackers and cheese in her dressing room (she also tends to drink flat rather than fizzy water). As she made a Christmas album this year, she also celebrated Christmas in July: “We decorate the studios, to make us feel like we’re in the Christmas spirit.” If you’re a fan of Dolly, you’ll be in for a treat: “My husband and I have been together for 57 years, been married 54. I’m sick of him and I’m sure he’s sick of me.”

Spotify Podcast of the Week: YouTuber and Spotify exclusive podcaster JaackMaate is helping us get festive – JaackMaate’s Happy Hour is counting down to Christmas with a special series of podcasts called The Twelve Pods of Christmas. There are two episodes to treat yourselves to already, with Jaack welcoming fellow YouTuber Calfreezy and Mark Goldbridge respectively. Upcoming guests will include SpencerFC, Chris Kamara and WillNE – you can find all the episodes collected neatly in this podcast playlist.

Life of the Party with Jodie Harsh – I don’t know about you, but after this year I’m yearning for the hot mess of a night out, followed by a regrettable McDonald’s breakfast the following morning. This podcast celebrates club culture’s past, it’s non-existent present and its hopes for the future, presented by the DJ and producer Jodie Harsh. Interviews with key figures in its culture have so far included Annie Mac to Fatboy Slim. The latest is an interview with Nile Rodgers, who casually describes nightlife as “the UN of groove.”

Santa DailyFinally, this has been a surreal time for us adults, but it’s important to remember that it has been a surreal time for children too. Carrying on traditions and routines always seems to be helpful for us all, so this daily podcast might help the little ones get into the traditional Christmas spirit. Voiced by Santa, you’ll hear stories about his busiest time of year. 

And in case you are wondering, Jonathan Van-Tam has confirmed that Santa is front of the queue for the vaccine, so his work shouldn’t be interrupted in any way.  

Some other big news from the world of podcasting this week: My Dad Wrote A Porno has announced that it is coming back with three Christmas episodes this year. The first two episodes will feature their reactions to a new chapter written by Rocky Flintstone, the third will be a collaboration with Dear Joan and Jericha (that’s Julia Davis and Vicki Pepperdine) released on Christmas Day. The sixth season of the belovedly inappropriate erotic novel will be out in 2021 too.

And finally, last week we mentioned that the popular British podcast The High Low was coming to an end. Their final episode has just been released, celebrating four years of the pod.

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