There’s nothing like a good podcast to accompany you through a long commute, entertain you on a slow Sunday or help you escape from mundane reality when you need it the most. And whether you’re into gritty true crime, hilarious sex chat or a dose of celebrity gossip, there really is something for everyone in the world of audio.
Here, we’ve selected our favourite picks of podcast for escapism, true crime or a simple laugh…
FOR A LAUGH…
Is It Just Me
Hosted by the brilliant Jo Elvin, current editor of YOU magazine and former editor-in-chief of GLAMOUR, and former colleague James Williams, Is It Just Me? debates the funniest, weirdest and most pressing dilemmas of the moment. Full of wit and topical conversations, Jo and James are joined by a new celebrity guest each week – and with over 100 episodes, it’s safe to say they’ve been joined by everyone who is anyone in the UK.
Women of the Hour
Chaired by Girls star Lena Dunham, the main mantra for this podcast is, as Lena puts it, ‘to celebrate the women who blow my mind.’ Produced by BuzzFeed, the podcast features an array of celebrity guests including Emma Stone, Emily Ratajkowski and author Zadie Smith as Lena tackles everything from body confidence to sex and relationships with her A-list pals. Prepare for both hilarious and intense conversations about life as a modern day woman.
Anna Faris is Unqualified
As the title suggests, this podcast is hosted by romcom queen Anna Faris, which means you can expect major giggles from the get go. The actress gets candid about everything from her plastic surgery, to the jealousy she used to feel when watching her ex-husband Chris Pratt with gorgeous women onscreen.
The Hotbed Podcast
The Hotbed Podcast is hosted by TV presenter Cherry Healey and journalists Anniki Sommerville and Lisa Williams who speak candidly about all things sex and relationships in everyday life. In fact, consider it your cringe-free, light-hearted and straight-talking take on sex – with the occasional input from sex doctor Dr Karen Gurney and woven-in snippets of their live show at Old St Records in Shoreditch.
Fiction podcasts are just the thing for escapism. For the ultimate break away from reality, get lost into the fictional world of Limetown – a dark podcast series based on the disappearance of 327 people of a small town in Tennessee (Limestone) and investigative journalist Lia Haddock’s quest to get to the bottom of it ten years later. You can expect to be hooked from the get go – the series shot to the tome of the iTunes charts after releasing just two episodes back in 2015.
This new podcast by featuring Kristen Wiig, Alia Shawkat and Ethan Hawke explores the human element behind voice assistant tech. Created by podcast studio Gimlet, it follows Helen (voiced by Shawkat), who, in an attempt to leave her old life behind her, lands a job at Orbital Teledynamics – the company behind an omniscient digital voice assistant called Sandra. However, as her real and virtual worlds begin to blend, she soon realises that she has become one of many ‘Sandras’ – real humans who answer questions from people thinking they are actually talking to an algorithm.
Homecoming is a fictional podcast that follows a therapist and an army veteran as they join a new government programme to help soldiers re-adjust to civilian life. Their story is told through a series of therapy sessions and phone conversations and explores the serious dangers of suppressing trauma.
Written and presented by Ross Sutherland, Imaginary Advice is a miscellany of quirky stories and includes everything from re-telling the plot of Four Weddings and a Funeral and recording love monologues at a drum and bass rave to turning current affairs into poetry. Listed as one of the Best British Podcasts of 2018, it has been described by critics as ‘a podcast that pushes the boundaries of the medium, and displays a level of creativity that is rarely seen on just one podcast. The writing is bold, the delivery is daring, and it takes the listener on a journey unlike any they will have encountered before.’
FOR TRUE CRIME…
As one of the most talked about podcasts ever, Serial certainly lives up to the hype. Its debut season tells the story of Adnan Syed – a Baltimore high school student who was convicted of the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, after her strangled body was found in a park a month after she went missing in January 1999. This series consists of 12 episodes hosted journalist Sarah Koening, who attempts to re-investigate Syed’s case and features a series of interviews with Syed, who is in prison facing a life sentence, as well as a host of witnesses and the police. It was downloaded more than 40 million times in 2014 alone.
In The Dark
Hosted by Madeline Baron, In The Dark investigates a series of true crime cases with the first season exploring the kidnapping and murder of 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling from Minnesota in 1989. Produced by American Public Media, it features dark, in-depth reporting but unlike Serial, Baron told Esquire: ‘We didn’t see ourselves as playing the role of detective in the case. We saw ourselves as investigating the investigation.’ The second season was released earlier this year and focuses on convicted murderer, Curtis Flowers, who was tried six times for shooting four people dead inside a furniture store in Winona, Minnesota.
Following the original Audible podcast of the same name, West Cork is set in an idyllic Irish town and follows the 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, a French film producer who was found near her vacation home in Schull – a huge case in Ireland that was splashed across national media outlets at the time. It is led by documentary maker Jennifer Ford and investigative journalist Sam Bungey and has been described by Vulture as being ‘vastly more soulful than so many of its peers, in large part by functioning as an exploration of how a tragedy, mixed with spectacle, can redefine and consume the terms of a place, a person, and a time.’
FOR CELEBRITY GOSSIP…
You Must Remember This
Here, Karina Longworth chronicles the well-kept secrets of Hollywood’s first century. Exploring what really happened behind the films, stars and scandals of the 20th century, Longworth – founder of Cinematical.com and former film critic for LA Weekly – delves into the Hollywood blacklist and the life of Joan Crawford in the first season alone. The follow-up season is titled ‘Dead Blondes’ and explores 11 blonde actresses who all died in a strange or unusual way.
Ru Paul: What’s The Tee?
Ru Paul fans, rejoice. Anyone who loves the famous drag queen and his Emmy-winning series Ru Paul’s Drag Race – a sassy drag take on reality TV contest America’s Next Top Model – will be obsessed with this podcast. Ru Paul: What’s The Tee? is led by the man himself and co-host Michelle Visage. The two cover everything from pop culture and beauty advice to behind-the-scenes exclusives of their hit show.
Here’s The Thing
Here’s The Thing is New York based a podcast interview series hosted by Hollywood star Alec Baldwin. Launched by WNYC in 2011, it features guest appearances by stars as diverse as comedian Chris Rock and actor Michael Douglas as well as American policy makers and economists.
The Secret History of Hollywood
Much like the aforementioned You Must Remember This, the plot of Adam Roche’s The Secret History of Hollywood is all in the title. In each episode, Roche brings to life the deeply buried secrets that shaped cinema. From ‘Hunting Witches With Walt Disney’ exploring witch-craft culture in old Hollywood, to, ‘A Universe Of Horrors’ – which tells the tale of Universal Studios’ iconic horror movies. But be warned, the episode are much longer than your average podcast and we don’t say that lightly. In fact the latter episode mentioned lasts an entire 429 minutes (over seven hours) so you’ll have to clear your schedule before committing to this one.