What does the latest medical research tell us about coronavirus? Dr. Neal Tucker explains, Author Molly Oldfield attempts to respond to those wonderful, fun, inquisitive questions that children ask and Producer Liv Bolton hosts a podcast which embraces the outdoors (one to think about when things return to normal).

Welcome to the Great British Podcast Newsletter (supported by BBC Sounds). 

I’ve separated this week’s newsletter into two sections for you this week – podcasts that focus on the coronavirus in ways that you might find helpful, and podcasts that don’t mention the coronavirus whatsoever, providing you with a little bit of a distraction.

There’s something so special about radio and podcasting, isn’t there? I wasn’t surprised at all when I heard that listening figures have shot up by 18% in the past couple of weeks. It’s not just because there is an appetite for news, but also because a familiar voice can be a real comfort at such a time like this.

And just like the television world, expect there to be a raft of changes and announcements made in the coming weeks, such as archive shows being made available for the first time, or special podcast series and initiatives to get us through. This newsletter will, of course, be keeping an eye on the latest developments and will alert you to new or interesting listens in the weeks ahead.

As always, if there are any podcasts that you think this newsletter is missing, especially ones that you think provide an essential service at this time, please do let us know by filling in this form


The Coronavirus Newscast – The daily news briefing has recently featured Nigella Lawson talking to Emily Maitlis about how to make the most of your cupboards for food. Also finance expert Martin Lewis dropped in to explain how the latest government advice affects both PAYE and the self-employed.

NB Hot Topics Podcast – Neal Tucker tells us what the latest medical research has told us about the coronavirus. The podcast is targeted at healthcare professionals, but the informal style also keeps you well in the loop.

How to Fail – The hugely popular podcast by Elizabeth Day has returned with two special episodes – an interview with philosopher Alain De Botton on how to stay sane and a chat with Google’s Mo Gawdat on how to keep your anxiety in check.

Dogcast – The podcast by Clare Balding looks into how you can best look after your pets if you are stuck at home and the companionship a dog can bring at such a time like this.

More or Less – A very useful radio show at the moment as this statistics podcast tears apart the theories and speculation that people have made from the latest coronavirus figures online, helping you separate fact from fiction.

Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review – They have recently refocused the podcast to look more at home releases and films that you can watch on television over the next week.

The Improv Chronicle Podcast – Improviser and broadcaster Lloydie James Lloyd was in New York for an improv festival, only to then find out that it had just been cancelled. In a special episode he speaks to people who have been affected by its cancellation, providing an interesting insight into the myriad of problems organisers face when an event is cancelled at such short notice.

Mental – For the next eight weeks the mental health podcast will focus on looking at the ways the coronavirus is affecting our lives, and the best ways we can try to cope through this crisis.

Sleep Cove – And finally, a good meditation and sleep podcast to tune into if you’re finding it rather hard to switch off at the end of the day. The soundscape is fantastic. And of course, do not listen whilst operating heavy machinery.


Gossipmongers – A real nonsense podcast. David Earl, Poppy Hillstead and Joe Wilkinson read out 100% totally reliable gossip (honestly) that have been sent in from their listeners. Not suitable for kids.

GABA – Another meditation podcast, which blends together archive clips, music and stories to give your mind a lift for a little bit. The soundscape is immersive (it is great to listen through your headphones) and each episode has an unpredictability that keeps you listening.

Everything Under The Sun – A great little podcast for kids, where children send in inquisitive questions about the world around them and author Molly Oldfield, tries to answer them. Recent questions include: Who invented music? How do Mermaids wee? How can bumblebees physically fly? And, a very applicable question right now, how long would it take for our hair to grow to the length of Rapunzel?

The Outdoors Fix – Liv Bolton presents a podcast about embracing the great outdoors, making you think about what you can get up to when things return to more of a sense of normality.

Writer’s Routine – Want to know how established authors manage to get a book draft done? This podcast looks at all the different routines and methods that are tried and tested, recently featuring Louise Hare (“This Lovely City”), An Yu (“Braised Pork”) and Caroline Scott (“The Photographer of The Lost”).

History Extra – A decent podcast by the history magazine, featuring a historian and a presenter talking through a historical event in the most layman’s terms possible. You end up learning a lot of stuff you either forgot in school or were never taught in the first place, from the battle of Okinawa to how news spread in the Middle Ages.

Even though the UK is currently on lockdown, that doesn’t mean that podcasts have been forgoing guests. Here are some podcasts with interesting guests in the last week:

The Economist Asks… has David Attenborough as a guest this week. Anne McElvoy asks him about whether the global lockdown might have unintentional changes to the climate and talks about his upcoming Netflix film: “A Life on Our Planet.” Castaway with Laura Whitmore, a podcast about podcast recommendations, has Niall Horan swinging by. And yes, I know how meta it now is for a podcast about podcast recommendations to be featured in a newsletter about podcast recommendations.

Table Manners with Jessie Ware has Dua Lipa as a guest for a virtual dinner.

Finally, we have two more BPA Fund winners to mention, that’s our initiative with The Wellcome Trust to help encourage more conversation around public health.

The first is Rosie Wilby’s Breakup Monologues. In her most recent episode, she talks to author Brian D. Earp about whether recreational drugs such as MDMA could ever be used to help us through our emotional issues, and whether they should. Then, in the Probably True podcast, Scott Flashheart looks at the HIV epidemic within the UK, the LGBTQ+ community response and the people who have dedicated their lives to helping others.

We also still want to know what great guests shows have had. Whether it’s a podcast that you listen to, or one that you make, fill in this form with the details. Regardless of whether they are a big name or not, we want to know, and will take a listen.

Stay safe and stay connected. We’re all in this together.

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Categories: Weekly Picks