Unlike many people, most of the audio content on my iPod is more full of audio books and podcasts than it is of music as I like to use Spotify to listen to music when at home. Both the personal portable media player and the online streaming music service can be played through my Denon music system which resides in my bedroom when I am relaxing. A podcast is a digital audio or video file or recording, usually part of a themed series, that can be downloaded from a website to a media player or computer or streamed via various apps such as Pocket Casts.
In this post, I aim to share some of my favourite podcasts which I have split into different genres and styles for the reasons I enjoy listening to them along with the other media content however there is no specific one which makes me continue to listen. I have included short clips of episodes so you, as my reader my get a taster as some of these podcasts can be about an hour in length. Please also be aware some podcasts use strong and offensive language and could contain graphic descriptions.
Many of the podcasts that appear through the list have a sense of humour with them however the following are specifically created to fit the genre of comedy.
Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4
Unless me and or my parents have evening plans or have another reason, we tend to sit down to our evening meal listening to the radio. Primary choice is BBC Radio 4 as the spoken word radio station established in 1967 puts on a wide variety of programs covering news, drama, comedy, history and science. As we tend to eat at around half past six in the evening and at that time on weekday evenings, the UK’s second most popular radio station puts out a half hour comedy program.
On Mondays, traditionally it tends to be stable classics such as Just a Minute and I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue. Tuesday through to Thursday tends to see a mix of different shows however sketch shows like That Mitchell and Webb Sound and John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme and radio sitcoms such as Cabin Pressure and Old Harry’s Game have aired in this midweek period. Fridays are designated for satirical shows such as The News Quiz and The Now Show along with Dead Ringers. The BBC allows for the Friday evening choice to be available as a podcast. These programs look back at recent events usually of the week just gone, generally in the political landscape and make witty and light-hearted comments not afraid to poke fun at politicians and parties and public figures.
The News Quiz currently chaired by Miles Jupp (who played Archie the inventor in Balamory and Nigel the lay minister in Rev) is currently in it’s 93rd series since starting in the late 1970s. Jupp took the reins after Sandi Toksvig called it a day, both were former panellists which now dominantly sees Susan Calman, Jeremy Hardy, Mark Steel, Andy Hamilton among others answer the questions posed by the chair.
The Now Show has since September 1998 stars Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis among other comedians, The show is a mixture of stand-up, sketches and songs and has been a good way for many comedians to make their break into stand-up.
Dead Ringers is an impressionist comedy which has been on BBC Radio 4 since the start of the 2000s as having forty two episodes on BBC television. Experienced impressionists Jon Culshaw and Jan Ravens have been part of the troupe since the beginning but also have been joined by Phil Cornwell, Lewis McLeod and Debra Stephenson over the years.
This podcast is a fantastic listen to anyone who doesn’t get chance to listen live on Radio 4 or if you have missed something. All three satirical programs have their positives and are valuable to Radio 4’s audience share being able to give the listener a good laugh to end what may have been a stressful week.
Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast
Since May 2012, comedian Richard Herring has anchored a weekly interview with a fellow comic in which both discuss at a random and often spontaneous level of understanding the guest’s roots in comedy. Herring born in the East Riding part of Yorkshire, worked with Stewart Lee on several live shows as well as TV and radio programs. After the pair divided and went on to their own projects, Richard Herring continued to write and perform comedy, especially at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival on an annual basis.
He is credited as one of the pioneers of comedic podcasting and has done several including this one including Me1 versus Me2 Snooker in which he performs the difficult task of playing snooker against himself which it is not only notable for being the only podcast which actually includes the game of snooker within it but for the subtext of a man satirising mental health issues and fighting against a tide of the norms of life where it can become stale and monotonous and this constant battle for create something different.
The interviews which he conducts have been a great opportunity for the comedians to share their anecdotes and thoughts about things in a relaxed setting and both Herring and his guest bounce off one another to keep one another amused.
Friday 16 September 2016
Eddie Izzard - #90
As I have an interest in politics it is hardly surprising that I have selected two in this list which have a political outlook to them and look at the current affairs which make the news.
A satirical news related podcast which has been fronted by Andy Zaltzman since the first episode in October 2007. For most episodes he was joined by John Oliver who worked on it from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in the United States of America combining it with his rants on The Daily Show. Episodes are recorded on Fridays, in order to digest the majority of the news worthy aspects in which the pair discuss. It mixes a good range of deadpan satire along with witty insights to the UK and global politics or big named celebrities who have made the headlines.
It is thought that half a million subscribe to the podcast each week in which it airs and was distributed by the TimesOnline until the News International Phone Hacking scandal in which Zaltzman and Oliver poked fun at, at the end of 2011 they went their separate ways and The Bugle became independent. John Oliver called it a day in 2016 due to family and work commitments , meaning Zaltzman has had a few different co-hosts since this decision.
Quite a strong podcast if people are sensitive about certain political and heavy subjects but done in a way which makes digesting what the world’s state is in feel like we are able to handle it with satire.
The Political Party
Nottingham born Matt Forde is a popular satirist, impressionist, comedian and radio presenter. Originally a member of the Labour Party from his teens, he turned his back on the Party after Jeremy Corbyn became leader as he believed in New Labour run by former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Forde created a career in comedy working with Russell Howard and Jon Richardson. After getting a break on his own at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival he has gone from strength to strength and hosted various radio programs as well as his own series on Dave called Unspun with Matt Forde.
The Political Party podcasts centre around a similar theme to his Dave channel show in which Forde interviews politicians from all of the major political parties and enjoys the banter with them as they discuss their time at Westminster be it present or past. In many he tries to get to know what matters most to the politician and what makes them want to stand for their beliefs.
I may not agree with Matt Forde in terms of politics or choice of football team, but he is a strong character and he is a good interviewer of politicians being able to get them to loosen up away from the dry days in office. He is able to put his guest in a comfortable position but ask them hard tackling questions without going too political so a good listen for those who want to know the people making the decisions of this country.
The Bugle #196
Show 20 with Michael Portillo
Football is something that I do wish to keep to a minimal on this blog as I hope to put more effort into a blog dedicated to the sport which I will launch later in the year (hopefully!). However there are certainly a range of podcasts discussing different aspects of the game. Both of the following look at it in their unique fashion.
Quickly Kevin; Will he score?
A new kid on the block as it is only ten episodes old (at the time of this blog post being typed) however has quickly become one of my favourite football related podcasts. Fronted by Plymouth Argyle fan and comedian Josh Widdicombe (The Last Leg, Insert Name Here, Have I Got News for You) alongside Chris Scull attempt to unearth different aspects and explore memory lane of 1990s English football. In the first ton of episodes they have interviewed former players, fellow comedians and those who made an impact during the period of 1 January 1990 to 31 December 1999.
In the first few episodes feature discussions with former Southampton player Matt Le Tissier, former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson, broadcaster Jim Rosenthal and comedians Nish Kumar and Matt Forde.
For me it really does bring back an evocative memory of growing up and starting to enjoy football as a spectator and the revolution which was the foreign legion of players, transfer fees building and many other aspects.
The Football Ramble
The Football Ramble is a podcast, book and website about football. Originally provided fortnightly, this was increased to a weekly show in and around the beginning of the 2009/2010 football season, mainly due to repeated listener requests. In October 2015, the podcast became biweekly with a preview show of the weekends football going out on a Friday followed by a show in and around Monday reflecting on the weekend’s action and previewing any midweek games that may be occurring.
It began in April 2007, the main bulk of the show consists of a review of the previous week’s fixtures, with the majority of the focus spent in and around the Premier League and then the rest of the major European leagues, notably the Spanish, Italian, German and Scottish leagues. Alongside this, the podcast picks out interesting and notable stories in and around the rest of the football world. The final section of the show includes contribution in and around the listeners through email and social media.
This podcast is certainly like listening to men in a pub discussing the sport, trying to debate over the best and worst aspects of the Premier League as well as elsewhere but done without showing too much loyalty to one side or the other.
Carry on Karius
The Best of the Rest Podcasts
The following four have their own place and niche aspect to them which doesn’t fit any particular category however all involve learning more about the world around us with a good mix of humility by experienced presenters of the podcasts.
No Such Thing as a Fish
A weekly British podcast series produced and presented by the researchers behind QI. In it each of the researchers, collectively known as “The QI Elves”, present their favourite fact that they have come across that week. The most regular presenters of the podcast are James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray, Anna Ptaszynski and Dan Schreiber, although other QI researchers also make appearances, and there are guest presenters on some episodes.
They have had a spin-off called No Such Thing as the News which started on BBC Two last year. Most episodes are recorded in a Covent Garden studio but some episodes are recorded in front of audiences.
A very witty and fact filled program, guaranteed to help you learn some quirky fact that you may want to impress others with.
Answer Me This!
Answer Me This! is a monthly comedy based podcast by Helen Zaltzman (sister to The Bugle’s Andy) and Olly Mann in which they answer questions submitted by the general public. It began in January 2007 and has since become one of the UK’s most successful independently produced podcasts. Winning many awards it has been named Podcast of the Week in the Radio Times, The Times, The Independent, and Time Out, as well as receiving plaudits in Q Magazine, the Financial Times, the Sunday Express, the London Metro, and The Observer. In 2009, the show became the first non-musical act ever to play the iTunes Festival.
The format of the show is Zaltzman and Mann answering listeners’ questions, submitted via email, answerphone or Skype, with subjects ranging from personal problems and factual queries to philosophical dilemmas or everyday petty quibbles. The episodes are punctuated by jingles, many of which feature comedians.
Guests on the show have included Andy Zaltzman and Peep Show’s Isy Suttie, stand up comedians Josie Long, Jackie Mason, and journalist, documentary maker, author and radio presenter Jon Ronson.
Certainly a range of questions and answers and done in a supportive and embracing style by Helen and Olly who do a great job as agony aunt and uncle to those submitting their concerns and queries.
The Infinite Monkey Cage
Described as a witty, irreverent look at the world through scientists’ eyes. With Brian Cox and Robin Ince, TIMC has been airing for fifteen series since 2009. Usually the guests include those experts in the field of interest of the episode alongside a comedian to join the chalk and cheese of Cox and Ince. Looking at biological, chemical and physical science topics, each episode which airs on BBC Radio 4 and then available as a slightly extended version in podcast format has a host of running themes and gags.
It is probably the most definitive podcast available and for those who have an interest in science and the way that shapes our environment then I would fully recommend listening to this podcast as it does not try and overboard the listeners with too much information but a good level in which it makes you feel you’ve learned something as well as had a good laugh and for me that definitely makes it a worthy listen.
Desert Island Discs
Earlier this year I did my first part of three marking the 75th year anniversary of this BBC Radio 4 program (My Desert Island Discs: Part One – (Artists A-H)) which allows the current host Kirsty Young to interview a castaway about their life and the music that shaped them. A staple Sunday late morning program has had a wide variety of castaways over the years. Since 2009, listeners have been able to re-listen to the archive now made available by the BBC.
There are over 2000 episodes to listen to from the three quarters of a century history of the program, the podcasts are slightly shorter than the airing on Radio 4, this is due to licencing issues with the music or audio material. The program has featured many engaging personalities of those in the public eye or those who have done great philanthropist work in their lifetime, many politicians, sportsmen and women, actors, authors etc have appeared and given their stories of how they rose to be in the public eye sharing stories which marked them to be who they are. A worthy listen for anyone who wants to understand the emotional psychological profile of the castaway.
Ep 155 - No Such Thing As Hurricane Schmurricane
343 - Mount Rushmore, Blood Crime and Heinz Beanz
Six Degrees of Separation
Emma Thompson - 28 March 2010
It was very difficult for me to pick ten podcasts from the hundreds and thousands which appear on the iTunes library. I’m sure there are plenty more I would enjoy, however it would take a long time to explore them all. There are many others which are available to listen to including the below so I encourage you to explore and find your own taste as each brings their own voice and value with a mix of experience and engagement.
The Simpsons Show – Going through each episode of the animated comedy one at a time and ranking them against one another and discussing the cultural references and episode highlights.
BrainStuff / Stuff You Should Know / Stuff To Blow Your Mind / Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – Four different podcasts by HowStuffWorks exploring different topics which expand the mind of the listener and try and make sense of the fact from fiction.
Alive and Kicking: The 90s Football Podcast – Another nostalgic look at English football during the main decade of my childhood
The Frank Skinner / The Jason Manford Shows – Edited (shortened) versions of the comedians Absolute Radio programs discussing the week’s events along with sharing random anecdotes.
Alohomora! – A Harry Potter themed podcast created by the staff who run the Harry Potter fansite MuggleNet, the contributors re-read the series, discuss the wild fan theories as well as share their admiration for the series by J.K. Rowling
Dan Snow’s History Hit – The TV presenter looks into major historical anniversaries and explores deep history behind the headlines of today.
The Guardian UK: Politics Weekly – Exactly what it says on the tin; journalists from The Guardian meet weekly to delve into the political events of the week.
Social Media Examiner – A great podcast if you want to know about recent trends in the world of Social Media marketing, interviewing some of the top minds who know their subject about the different platforms and how to get the best results on the forever evolution.
Boagworld / Digital Trends – Looking at different aspects of web design and development that are important for those interested in working in that field of expertise, similarly to Social Media Examiner, features some interviews with knowledgeable experts.