Let’s start this newsletter by looking at some podcasts that are looking ahead to 2022. Firstly … news! Channel 4 News and their Fourcast podcast has a special looking ahead in the news in world affairs. Their predictions? Turmoil in Afghanistan, growing risks from cyber warfare and China’s continuing rise as a global superpower. The Financial Times’ FT News Briefing asked their reporters and columnists to make economic predictions for the year ahead too, with instability from omicron and growing inflation their major concerns.
Want something a bit more hopeful? I am! Jay Shetty has launched an audio guide to what he has learnt in 300 episodes of hosting On Purpose this week, Radio Headspace has daily episodes on intention setting and having an optimistic frame of mind and RunPod with Jenni Falconer has a guide to improving your running form. The Happy Pear Podcast has an episode on sticking to resolutions, featuring insight on the benefits of cutting alcohol, with Andy Ramage from One Year No Beer.
NOTABLE NAMES ON PODCASTS THIS WEEK
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- Miranda Hart was on The Gaby Roslin Podcast recently, talking about how she never expected her sitcom to become such a success, her breakthrough and her work supporting a charity that helps people experiencing chronic illness.
- Professor Noam Chomsky, the famous philosopher, linguist and social historian, is on Spieling the Beans, a podcast where notable names talk about the art of great storytelling. An episode fourteen months in the making and recorded just before his 93rd birthday, he talks about his life’s work and why, despite the events of the recent years, he’s optimistic about the future.
- Jo Brand is the latest guest on Comfort Eating with Grace Dent.
- Jude Law, star of The Holiday, is the guest on The Holiday Season to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the film to talk about how the film was made and the real origin of “Mr Napkin Head,” one of the most notable bits of the film.
- Jon Ronson, Josie Long, James Acaster, Josh Widdicombe, Matthew Crosby, John Robins and Elis James were on the farewell episode of Your Own First Beatles, reflecting on the Get Back documentary.
- Anthony Horowitz, author behind the critically acclaimed Alex Rider children’s books, talks about his love for Ian Fleming and Dr Seuss on the 200th episode of Better Known, where guests talk about the things that they wish other people knew about more or deserved more recognition.
Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead
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The Coming Storm – A year on since the insurrection at the Washington Capitol this insightful new BBC Sounds and BBC World Service documentary series, hosted by reporter Gabriel Gatehouse, looks at how conspiracy theories (such as QAnon) became such an integral part in shaping the terrifying events that day.
Gatehouse speaks to those who have been influenced by QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory that claims that a Satanic cabal has taken over the world. And whilst the internet has been a driving force behind the spread of QAnon, Gatehouse points out the origins of the ideology and the forces that shaped Jan 6th can be traced years earlier.
If you’re a fan of this, I would also recommend listening to Finding Q, an Audible podcast series hosted by the journalist Nicky Woolf that tries to find the leader of Q.
Lonel(i)ness – I have been a fan of Broccoli for quite some time, the production company behind compelling podcasts such as the history series Human Resources, and the daily storytelling series Anthems. They also have a compelling documentary strand, containing series and one-off episodes, with a recent episode looking at loneliness within the UK, after a report from the Office of National Statistics says that 2.6 million often or always felt lonely.
You might assume that this is an issue pre-dominately affecting older generations, but as the podcast’s host Jaja Muhammad points out, nine out of ten people between the ages of 18 and 24 are the largest group of people experiencing loneliness in the UK. And whilst the pandemic has increased the feeling of isolation for many of us, the experience of feeling lonely has been a plight millions of Brits have faced for years. So what can be done about it? And what can you do if you experience these feelings?
If you enjoyed this podcast episode, in the podcast for The Stitch Up, another Broccoli doc that looks at how the fashion industry can put the planet before short term profit.
Spotify Podcast of the Week: Where is My Mind? – It’s January and it’s time to reset and reassess. With yet another year of anxiety and frustration, mindfulness has never been more important amongst all of the current chaos. In the first episode of the year, host Niall Breslin sits down with producer Ciara to discuss ‘Metta Month’ which is taking place on his sister podcast – Wake Up Wind Down. Metta means positive energy and kindness toward others, but it feels like there’s a lack of that in the world right now. Niall explores how we can reconnect with ourselves and each other, and not let social media and other external forces take over our minds.
Desperately Seeking Wisdom – A podcast that aims to provide wisdom to people who might look successful on the outside, but aren’t feeling as good as they think they should be. In this podcast Craig Oliver, who used to have a high profile job at the heart of the British government but felt at the same time unfulfilled, speaks to someone who has made adjustments in their life after an unexpected challenge.
His first guest is BBC Newsreader and journalist George Alagiah, who was diagnosed back in 2014 with stage four bowel cancer. Recently stepping back from his TV news role in light of further treatment, here Alagiah talks about how grateful he is after being told that he would only have possibly a year or so to live and how he manages to stay optimistic: “I remember talking to my consultant and saying ‘I’m not going to worry, you’re going to have to do all the worrying for me. Worrying is tiring me out.’”
He also talks about how his health issues have made him take stock on what matters in his life. “You can get angry, you can feel regret and all of those kinds of quite negative things,” Alagiah says. “There are as many ways of dealing with cancer as people who have got it.
“But to get to that point where you are able to see life as a gift is, I think, really important.”
Getting My Dad To Say I Love You – Podcasts that look at family relationships are all the rage at the moment. In this new and lighthearted series, comedian Chris Martin (no relation to Coldplay) asks guests about the relationships they have with their parents and whether they ever show their love to them. It is an interesting exploration at the generational divide (we’re much more likely to be open about expressing our emotion, the good and the bad) and the validation we seek from others. Guests so far include Roisin Conaty, Romesh Ranganathan and Rob Beckett.
Before we go, here’s a podcast project that caught my eye this week. Dan Snow’s History Hit, the hugely popular history podcast series, has launched an ambitious project for 2022. Partnering with Little Dot Studios, Snow and his team are going on an expedition to Antarctica with scientists and archeologists to track down Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance, one of the great lost shipwrecks.
The ship infamously sank off the coast of Antarctica in 1915, after getting frozen and crushed by surrounding sea ice. Shackleton and members of his crew were able to make a daring and legendary escape to safety after being stranded for two years. The History Hit podcast will be broadcasting special episodes, filming special videos and sharing insights on social media. “We are going to tell the story of Shackleton, and this expedition to find his lost ship, like never before,” says Snow.
This sounds like a thrilling expedition. I might stay indoors and put a jumper on today.