It's getting to that point of the year where we look back with misty eyes on the best stuff from the past 12 months.
As part of this process, we spoke to the hosts of some of 2019's best podcasts to ask them about their own shows as well as which other audio treats they just can't get enough of.
The High Low – Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes
My podcast (by Pandora Sykes): Dolly Alderton and I started The High Low in early 2017. We didn't feel like there was a podcast out there, particularly a female-helmed one, that discussed the high brow and the low brow - of the news, pop-culture, current affairs - all in the same breath. We wanted to cut through the week and offer both a palate cleanser and a pause-for-thought, all in one.
The podcast I love: The Week Unwrapped. I love The Week and I learn loads from their spin-off podcast which is about three news stories from the last week that may not have made headline news but nevertheless have ramifications for the way we live. It's smart, entertaining and informative.
The Adam Buxton Podcast – Adam Buxton
My podcast: The Adam Buxton podcast is mostly me talking to friends and other interesting people. Some are funny (episode 100 with my school friends Joe Cornish and Louis Theroux or episode 82 with comedian Tash Demetriou for example) and others are more serious (episode 98 with human rights activist Maya Foa, or episode 102 with writer Philip Pullman).
Most of the interviews are bookended with me walking my dog Rosie in the fields out in East Anglia where I live.
On the 100th episode I told Joe and Louis that I’d been given a box set of early David Bowie demos that none of us had yet heard. We had a go at imagining what the songs sounded like based on the titles and Joe did an amazing one. The title Joe chose was ‘Goodbye 3D Joe’ and he recorded a great song about 3D film technology. It didn’t sound anything like Bowie’s song, but it was very good.
The podcast I love: I was trying to think of a podcast I listen to that would make me look intelligent and unpredictable but the truth is one of my favourite podcasts is another one with comedians talking to other comedians. It’s called Stop Podcasting Yourself and it’s hosted by two Canadian blokes I don’t know - Dave Shumka and Graham Clarke - who chat with other comedians, most of whom I’ve never heard of either, but I like Graham and Dave so much I don’t care who they’re talking to. They keep it light, inconsequential even, but (usually) not stupid. I think of them as friends now.
That Peter Crouch Podcast – Peter Crouch, Tom Fordyce and Chris Stark
My podcast: My podcast is my favourite thing to do. We sit and talk loosely about a topic in football but it wonders in to anything from Pants to paella and the fact the last series culminated in a festival blew my mind. I love the power of the pod.
The podcast I love: Ricky Gervais got me into podcasts as I’m a big fan of anything he does and Quickly Kevin, Will he Score? is a lot of what I’m about because '80s/'90s football was the best for me.
Dear Joan and Jericha – Julia Davis and Vicki Pepperdine
Our podcast: Dear Joan and Jericha has been described as “Derek and Clive meets Joyce Grenfell”. We play judgmental agony aunts Joan Damry and Jericha Domain, whose complicated personal lives centre around Jericha’s wayward daughter Cardinal and Joan’s bed bound husband Ralph. The pair dish out wildly unhelpful ‘adult' advice in response to listeners' letters - a recent favourite involving a man whose mother we suspect of having stretched his manhood on a fishing rod.
The podcast we love: Athletico Mince. Basically we love Bob Mortimer - and hearing him and Andy Dawson barely stifling their laughter is my favourite thing.
How to Fail – Elizabeth Day
My podcast: How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is a podcast that talks to guests about three occasions in their life that things haven't gone according to plan. The idea is that in learning how to fail, we actually learn how to succeed better because failure makes us strong, if we know how to deal with it.
I opened season six with Camilla Thurlow, a former bomb-disposal expert turned Love Island contestant who has gone on to be a charity activist and poet. I had never met Camilla before, but I knew from following her on social media that she had interesting things to say. Still, I couldn't have anticipated just how beautifully and articulately she spoke about anxiety, depression and dislocation from self.
When I put the episode out there, I knew there was a risk some people would dismiss her as a reality TV star, but I was overwhelmed by the listener response - both Camilla and I were inundated with messages from people saying the podcast had made them feel understood. One lovely woman came up to me in Sainsbury's with tears in her eyes telling me how much it had meant to her.
She then directed me to the cold meats aisle, which was very kind of her (it was a huge Sainsbury's and pretty confusing).
The podcast I love: Dear Joan and Jericha makes me snort with laughter every single week. It is so funny and so unashamedly extreme and I particularly love that it's two women riffing brilliantly against each other. (See also: Fortunately with Fi and Jane and The High Low).
Walking the Dog – Emily Dean
My podcast: Interviewing someone over a dog walk makes them open up in a way I hadn’t ever imagined, I think it creates a very intimate and relaxed atmosphere. My highlight this year was Ed Miliband telling me my dog Raymond looked like a toupee.
The podcast I love: It's got to be Adam Buxton’s - he’s the original podcast gangsta and still for me, the best. He’s not only hilarious, he’s also fearless as an interviewer and not afraid to ask challenging questions.
Older and Wider Podcast – Jenny Eclair and Judith Holder
Our podcast (by Jenny Eclair): Judith Holder and I had co-written all the Grumpy live shows and wanted to continue fighting the good fight for women of a certain age all over the country, so we decided to do 'Older and Wider', the podcast for people who don't really know what a podcast is.
It’s basically an online natter over an imaginary garden fence, it’s very indiscrete I’m very glad to say. Our favourite moments are usually coleslaw related, occasionally guests bring in homemade tubs and listeners send us unusual coleslaw recipes - coleslaw is our thing - oh, and cheese.
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The podcast we love: I like Drunk Women Solving Crime, it manages to be really funny whilst incredibly interesting and well-researched. It’s also great fun to do live as a guest.
The Political Party – Matt Forde
My podcast: It’s the only place you can hear major politicians from all sides really being themselves. I interview them with respect but I take the mick too, so the result is a funnier and more revealing interview than you’d get anywhere else. Plus it's going to be daily during the election so it'll be the best place to follow the campaign as I'm not bound by the rules that newspapers, radio and television shows are!
The podcast I love: Quickly Kevin, Will he Score? by Josh Widdicombe, Chris Scull and Michael Marden. It’s a brilliant mix of football nostalgia and comedy with cult '90s figures like Matt le Tissier telling ludicrous stories about '90s football. Including the time he was sick in training because he’d had too many sausage and egg McMuffins. What more do you want out of life?
The Guilty Feminist – Deborah Frances-White
My podcast: The Guilty Feminist is about our noble goals as feminists and our hypocrisies and insecurities which undermine those goals. We always start with a series of confessions. For example - I’m a feminist but one time I went on a women’s rights march and popped into a department store to use the loo and got distracted trying out face cream and when I came out the march was gone.
We use comedy to exfoliate anything unnecessary we’re carrying and build muscle to fight the patriarchy another day. My favourite moment from the last year was co-hosting with the legendary Emma Thompson and having her replicate her feminist stand-up comedy from the 1980s for the audience. It was wild and magical. That and recording the show at The Royal Albert Hall in front of 5000 people. We started three-and-a-half years ago when there were 30 in the audience.
The podcast I love: My favourite podcast to listen to is GrownUpLand from BBC Sounds. The chemistry between comedians Sophie Duker, Heidi Regan and Ned Sedgwick as they navigate the grown-up world is just wonderful. The segment everyone talks about is Steve Ali’s Perspective where Syrian Steve answers your first world problem with a refugee solution. You learn a lot about a refugee’s life while laughing at yourself. Golden.
Fortunately – Fi Glover and Jane Garvey
Our Podcast (by Fi Glover): Jane and I started Fortunately a couple of years ago with the intention of shooting the breeze with people in broadcasting about people in broadcasting. Very much like we would do if we didn’t have the microphone on. We have been surprised, bemused and delighted by its modest success.
My favourite moment was taking the show to Hay Festival - lovely to meet audience but also because Jane and I got locked out of our BnB, saw some great shows, ate too much, gossiped all the way home. Like an extended edition of the pod in real life. Oh, and meeting Tracey Thorn – lifetime heroine for both of us.
The podcast I love: I have lived for The Missing Cryptoqueen, can’t get through life without Dear Joan and Jericha, How to Fail with Elizabeth Day and I like to pop a Griefcast and the High Low in the mix too.
RHLSTP – Richard Herring
My podcast: My podcast is RHLSTP (Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast). It’s a long form chat with a different celebrity each week, where I try to ask different questions than they’d usually get asked in the hope of getting laughs with some revelations. Almost always with some success.
The Les Dennis episode is my favourite of the year, full of great anecdotes and honesty from this showbiz legend. His story about his plumber mistaking his then-wife Amanda Holden for his daughter was particularly brilliant.
The podcast I love: No Such Thing As A Fish - an hilarious chat about some unusual facts uncovered by the QI Elves, which is always funny and also manages to educate at the same time. Usually with useless information, but it’s a huge amount of fun.
Page 94, The Private Eye Podcast – Andrew Hunter-Murray
My podcast: Page 94 consists of behind-the-scenes interviews with all the brilliant journalists, joke-writers and cartoonists who write Private Eye magazine. We haven't been sued over any of the episodes yet, which is tragic, but I'm working on it. My highlight of the year was the 1500th-issue special anniversary episode, where we found out that the Eye has a ghost on the third floor and I got to quiz Eye hack Adam Macqueen, the man who wrote the magazine's official history. He won.
The podcast I love: The Briefing Room, where David Aaronovitch talks through a different issue each week with people who actually know what they're talking about (so policy experts instead of politicians). Highly informative and never dull.
We Have Ways of Making You Talk – Al Murray and James Holland
Our podcast (by Al Murray): Our podcast is called We Have Ways of Making You Talk, and it’s me and James Holland, the renowned World War Two historian talking about the war. I’m an enthusiast, he’s the expert: the subject is a bottomless pit, and one we could talk about literally all day long. We have a lot of fun answering people’s questions, discussing different aspects of the war – often enough I’ll be offering my opinion on something when I realise James has written a book about it.
This year in September, James and I went to Arnhem, the scene of the famous A Bridge Too Far battle, to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the epic struggle there. We did nine podcasts, one for each day of the battle, walking the battlefield, speaking to experts, and digging up some controversy too. To actually walk the ground, see the place where the battle was fought made it all come to life.
The podcast I love: I am a huge fan of comedian Matt Forde’s Political Party podcast – hearing politicians talk at length rather than in soundbite form is refreshing, and Matt knows his stuff, so is able to take the mickey and get under the surface. He’ll talk to pretty much anyone of any persuasion and hear them out – so if they’re dodgy or hopeless it’s all there to be revealed.
Box of Delights – Julia Raeside
My podcast: On the Box of Delights I invite people to bathe in the nostalgia of their favourite TV memories during little 15-minute episodes. It’s often funny but I was unexpectedly teary hearing Richard Madeley describe watching the moon landings with his late mum and dad.
The podcast I love: Heavy Pencil is a mini sitcom from Tony Gardner (Last Tango in Halifax) and Anna Crilly (Lead Balloon). He’s a jaded old luvvie short on work and she’s the bored youngster who listlessly answers the phone at his agent’s office. It’s comic perfection.
Shagged Married Annoyed Podcast – Rosie and Chris Ramsey
My podcast (by Rosie Ramsey): Shagged Married Annoyed came about completely by chance earlier this year. My husband [Chris Ramsey] and I weren’t spending enough time together. A podcast was the only solution to us sitting down and having an actual conversation. Chris is a workaholic you see, so it had to involve comedy in some way. It is recorded from our dining table and there are zero airs and graces, just like us!
If you enjoy toilet humour and listening to a married couple argue then we are the podcast for you. My absolute favourite moment so far was when Chris and I found out that people are having foursomes on Wednesdays with complete strangers they’ve met online. Funny yet insightful.
The podcast I love: I love a good true crime podcast. My most recent find was Man in The Window. Gripping stuff, I’ve been double checking all my doors ever since!
Homo Sapiens – Will Young and Chris Sweeney
Our podcast (by Chris Sweeney): Will and I have always loved Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 - we loved hearing about the world from a female perspective. So one day I said to Will that I wanted to make a show that was the word from an LGBTQ+ perspective. Will said “I love it” so we decided to do it together, and so we sat down at my kitchen table and recorded ourselves on my iPhone - two best friends talking about life, coming out, gay culture and we had a real laugh doing all of it.
Suddenly we had a huge following - we’ve gone on to interview Sam Smith, Jeremy Corbyn, Clare Balding, we’ve been to the Gay Rodeo in America, visited Parkfield School to chat to Andrew Moffat who teaches wonderful lessons on inclusivity in schools - it’s been an incredible experience.
The podcast I love: I love fortunately with Fi Glover and Jane Garvey - those two are hysterical and it seems similar to our podcast - a bit disorganised and very funny.