It hasn’t been a typical year and it certainly won’t be a typical Olympic Games. Tokyo 2020 kicked off (without any spectators) on Friday and the competition will be dominating the TV schedules for the next fortnight. Despite the eight hour time difference, a lot of sporting action takes place conveniently in the late morning or early afternoon here (including a lot of the athletics and gymnastics).
There are a number of podcasts following the sporting action. The BBC’s Olympics Daily podcast will be providing you the latest sporting highlights. Relay: The Team GB podcast features interviews with hotly tipped British athletes, so you get to know them a little bit better before you see them compete on television. You’ll get insight into athlete diets and the amount of preparations the commentators have to do before race day (spoiler: many commentators carry paper files full of crib sheets for each athlete).
The Olympic Channel have partnered up with Bridgestone for a special series featuring interviews between Daley Thompson and other celebrated Olympians, such as heptathlete Denise Lewis and the rower Dame Katherine Grainger. The series launches on July 29th and will be available to listen via the Olympic Channel podcast feed. Meanwhile the BBC World Service have got their own interview series called On The Podium, but with more of a global focus.
Finally, The Athletic’s Offside Rule has a spin-off Olympics edition running throughout the competition, covering the women’s football tournament. And for some London 2012 memories and reflections, listen out for Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill on the latest episode of Desert Island Discs.
GUESTS ON PODCASTS THIS WEEK
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- The British swimmer and Olympian Mark Foster is On The Marie Curie Couch, a tender podcast where a guest talks about their experiences with grief in a conversation with one of their bereavement experts, Jason Davidson. It’s a relatable listen for anyone who has lost someone. Listen out to a compilation episode featuring guests Jane Horrocks and Hugh Grant.
- Michael Wolff, the author of the explosive books covering the Trump administration, was on Stories of our Times this week, talking about what he has learnt about Donald Trump from his interviews and his take on the final chaotic weeks of Trump’s administration.
- The writer Caitlin Moran joined British Podcasts Award ‘Podcast Champion’ Fearne Cotton on Happy Place this week, talking about how feminism has changed within her lifetime.
- Horror writer C.J. Tudor was on The Failing Writers Podcast this week, talking about her transition from being an unemployed dog walker to writing a bestseller.
- Former FIFA World Champion Mossad “Msdossary” Al-Dossary was on Save your Game – the Red Bull Gaming podcast talking about his gaming career.
- Marina Hyde, who recently won Political Commentator of the Year at the British Press Awards, was on The Guardian’s Today in Focus: “The music has stopped in the middle of a deadly pandemic, and these are the people in charge.”
Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead
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The Rest is History – This history podcast by Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook has been a breath of fresh air because of the casual, informative way they look at momentous events in our history. Now the popular historians have recorded a three-part special looking at the people that have been immortalised in some of our most popular statues, recorded live from nearby the statues themselves.
At a time when the role of statues have been so fiercely debated, it is interesting to hear more details about those who have been depicted at popular tourist hotspots, so you can make up your mind about whether they should still be there. They also provide their own views, in a lighthearted feature called “Keep or Cancel.”
Very Modern Quests – Audible have been releasing a string of impressive presenter-led podcasts in recent months, from Dotty’s Hashbag Trashbag to Clara Amfo and Amber Butchart’s Fashioned, which looks at the history of modern Britain through fashion trends and the clothes we have worn.
Now My Dad Wrote A Porno’s Alice Levine is fronting her own series, where she plays the narrator in a highly enjoyable choose-your-own-adventure show. Special guests are thrown into real-life role-playing situations, having to improvise with the comedian Emma Sidi. These situations are set very much in the real world, with Greg James trying to renegotiate a tenancy agreement, Rose Matafeo going through the high and lows of meeting the parents whilst Joe Lycett is dragged (against his will) on a stag do.
A masterstroke is that the guest has no idea what is about to happen before the quest starts, so you can really feel their nerves throughout. Like other Audible podcasts, you need to be a paid subscriber to listen, but it does not take up one of your ‘credits.’
Spotify Podcast of the Week – The Rugby Pod – Yet another event in what’s shaping up to be a truly packed Summer of Sport, the Lions Tour, kicks off this weekend and the Rugby Pod will be your accompaniment to the tests over the next few weeks. The show is hosted by Andy Goode, Jim Hamilton and Andy Rowe and is now part of The Ringer network of podcasts. The latest episode is a first hand account of what it’s really like to play on the Lions Tour from legend John Bentley who was part of the 1997 squad that took part in arguably the most iconic Lions Tour of all time.
Have You Heard George’s Podcast? – The Peabody and British Podcast Award-winning podcast by the spoken word artist George The Poet has returned for a third series this week. A strength of the podcast is not only George’s storytelling and heart (which radiates through), it is also the attention to detail given to the sounds you hear. Never resting on its laurels, this time the series has been recorded mostly at Abbey Road Studios, with George’s voice this time accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra. This is an obvious thing to say if you have heard his series before, but make sure you listen through your headphones.
NeutrinoWatch – This experimental podcast changes every single time that you listen to it. Yep, you heard me.
There are seven episodes of this partly fictional podcast, created by Martin Zaltz Austwick (known for his work on Maddie’s Sound Explorers and Answer Me This) and Jeff Emtman (Here Be Monsters). The audio changes every single day within each one, thanks to some nifty code contained within. You have to delete each episode on your device to get the new audio, one episode containing a song that has 573,440 possible variations, depending on the day you hear. It makes me wonder whether coding could be a benefit to other podcasts in the future, helping them feel more timely or personalised. Could a news podcast contain news or weather dependent on your exact location? That would be handy.
If you’re still looking out for something to listen to, let’s have a look at a couple of British Podcast Awards winners (powered by Amazon Music).
Real Dictators, who won the Best Arts & Culture Podcast (supported by Create Podcasts) award, was praised for its storytelling and narration. The series looks at the lives of despotic and authoritarian leaders. Most recently, it has launched a new series looking at the rise and fall of Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who died in 2011.
The Intelligence, which won the Best Daily Podcast (and is part of the Best Network winner too) have released an episode looking at Netflix’s underwhelming quarterly results and why Liverpool has lost its UNESCO World Heritage status.