Even though there are many weeks of social distancing and tiered lockdowns ahead, the news of the first vaccines makes it feel as if we’re really starting to turn a corner.

Like me, you might have some questions about the logistical challenges ahead in getting the vaccine out to everyone, such as the challenges in moving around the country and whether there is enough capacity in the system for the millions who will need it. For some helpful analysis and scientific prediction, I recommend listening to How to Vaccinate the World, a new BBC Radio 4 series presented by Tim Harford, featuring contributions from lots of scientific and immunology experts. What makes it a worthwhile listen is that there’s more detail in each episode than you would hear in other programmes, but the terminology about the vaccine is easy enough to follow.

Speaking of the news, there have been quite a few daily news podcasts launched over the last year). Now Channel 4 News have gotten into the game with their own called The FourCast. Presented by Kiran Moodley, the podcast tries to set itself apart from the others by looking a little ahead to the future (hence the name), with their first episode looking at Biden’s environmental policies and how much it will tackle climate change.


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Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead

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FashionedDon’t assume that this podcast is only for those who are interested in fashion and the latest trends. This new Audible Originals series (only for subscribers), hosted by fashion historian Amber Butchart and broadcaster Clara Amfo, delves into how social class norms, gender, class, feminism and civil rights can be reflected through different fashion in our history. 

I got stuck into the second episode, looking at gendered fashion. You may have seen the news recently about Harry Styles wearing a dress on the cover of Vogue, resulting in a backlash by US rightwingers, which then itself saw a backlash. This podcast explains that whilst gender is changing in modern times, cross dressing itself is not by any means a new phenomenon. Expect an insightful mix of facts, stories and anecdotes.

MenkindMichael Chakraverty (from the Bake Off tent) and Mark Watson (the comedian and novelist) are behind this interesting podcast examining masculinity in the modern era. At its heart it explores what it means to be a man in 2020, how masculinity evolved through the decades and how we can all be better men, with broadcaster and YouTuber Riyadh Khalaf joining them in the first episode. In the show they talk about how football is trying to shed its homophobic reputation and how queer people in schools may have felt pressure to become the comedian or the punchline as a means of protection. I admire the thoughtful, unstructured approach to these conversations.

Spotify Podcast of the Week: Where Is My Mind? is the podcast designed to help us navigate the manic, always-on, and head-melting world we live in, produced by Irish musician, ex-football player turned wellness guru Niall Breslin and Ciara O’Connor Walsh. To kick off Christmas and celebrate the end of lockdown, Niall honours the diversity of his community in Mullingar by bringing together a huge choir with over 500 voices to sing Caravan of Love. Recognising how some members of the community can feel “locked down” in other ways through structural inequality, Niall speaks to community social inclusion activists about how much this small town has changed in recent years to embrace this diversity, but how far we still need to travel to be more open and inclusive. 

Bah HumbugWe all have our Christmas film traditions. Mine is watching Muppet Christmas Carol whilst wrapping presents in a mild panic on Christmas Eve, thereby failing to concentrate on any of The Muppet Christmas Carol

This new podcast, presented by Helen O’Hara, celebrates the good (and the very bad) of iconic Christmas films. In each episode she is joined by two guests to analyse a new Christmas film, such as Dolly Parton’s Christmas on the Square on Netflix, before comparing it to an iconic repeatable oldie, such as It’s A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. Do the newbies contain any of the ingredients that make it a repeatable classic? It makes me wonder whether we get sucked into watching the same Christmas films not because they’re good, but because we’ve already seen them before.

Unspeakable ScotlandFinally, if you’re looking for a true crime fix, there’s a new podcast about Scottish crimes starting this week. The format is an interesting one too, as in each episode a well-known Scottish storyteller tells the story to the broadcaster Janice Forsyth, so you get to share her thoughts and reactions throughout. The first episode features renowned crime writer Val McDermid telling the story of Buck Ruxton (a gruesome murder from 1935). Upcoming episodes include true crime stories from crime writers Denise Mina, Douglas Skelton as well as the comedian Robert Florence.

Finally, last week we mentioned that My Dad Wrote A Porno was returning for three more episodes at Christmas this year; the first episode is now available to listen to. The podcast is also giving a £10,000 donation to Médicins Sans Frontières this Christmas and is encouraging listeners to make their own donations. 

If you do, you can also enter a special competition to receive a special message from the hosts themselves. For more details, listen out to them talking about it at the end of the episode.

Categories: Weekly Picks