23 podcasts you need to listen to right now

Tune into these top podcast recommendations from the RadioTimes.com team

Radio Times top podcast picks - collage

Wondering which podcast to listen to next – and looking for some inspiration?

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There are so, so many podcasts out there: some brilliant, some bad, some downright mediocre. But the RadioTimes.com team has now pulled together a guide to our favourite recent podcasts and why you should give them a listen. Our list features everything from tales of doomed airships, to comedy partnerships, to the nail-biting story of Apollo 13 – so there’s something for everyone.

In no particular order, here are the top recommendations…

Contributors: Grace Henry, Helen Daly, Eleanor Bley Griffiths, David Craig, Patrick Cremona, Flora Carr, Michael Potts, Huw Fullerton, Thomas Ling

You’re Dead to Me

You're Dead to Me

Billed as “the history podcast for people who don’t like history… and those who do”, You’re Dead To Me takes an irreverent approach to exploring some fascinating corners of our past. For each episode, host Greg Jenner (of Horrible Histories and other things) brings together a comedian and a historian to delve into a new topic: the episode on the history of chocolate, for example, features gameshow host Richard Osman and chocolate historian (yes, chocolate historian!) Alex Hutchinson. And if that doesn’t appeal, you can catch episodes on The Mayflower, Stonehenge, Young Napoleon, Blackbeard, the history of football, or the ancient Olympics. EBG

Reply All

Reply All podcast

This podcast has been going since 2014 and sees hosts PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman discuss the impact of technology and the internet on 21st century life, sometimes opening up the phone lines to answer listeners’ questions. A recent episode – The Case of the Missing Hit was called “perhaps the best-ever episode of any podcast” by The Guardian – and most of the other episodes aren’t too far behind! PC

Cautionary Tales

The concept behind this podcast is that it “tells true stories about mistakes and what we should learn from them.” But it’s not as preachy as all that. Host Tim Harford takes us on a journey through a variety of historical errors, big and small, and shows us exactly what went wrong in a narrative and entertaining way. My favourite episode by far is The Deadly Airship Race, which gives us the fascinating tale of a British Lord who wanted to build the fanciest airship in the world – and the two rival design teams who went head-to-head to build it for him. As you might guess from the title, this did not go to plan. EBG

13 minutes to the Moon season two

13 Minutes to the Moon BBC

Houston, we have a problem. But not with this podcast. While the first run of this BBC docu-series orbited around Apollo 11’s historic landing on the lunar surface, its second season launches into the incredible story of the ill-fated Apollo 13. Told in nail-biting detail by the people who flew and saved the spacecraft after a catastrophic explosion in space, every episode offers an extraordinary insight into NASA’s near-disaster. TL

Sh*gged Married Annoyed

Chris and Rosie Ramsey (1)

They may have a lovely little boy, an award-winning podcast and more free mayonnaise than you care to imagine, but Chris and Rosie Ramsey still find plenty of “beef” with each other in their weekly Sh*gged Married Annoyed episodes. From the bizarre to the relatable, the Geordie pair always find something to argue about – and honestly, who can say they haven’t had a little tiff about stacking the dishwasher as well? From the catchy jingle at the beginning of the podcast, to Barry Beef and his family showing up unannounced, we can’t get enough of Chris and Rosie’s laughter and teasing. The best bit though, is where members of the public send in stories and questions which range from the most disgusting toilet-based stories you will ever hear to tales from a paramedic. Beware, not all of these are for the faint-hearted… One thing we can guarantee though, is that you’ll be in hysterics all the way through each episode. HD

The Why Factor

Why do we care so much about games? Just how did zombie fiction get so big? Are some people more biologically prone to cheating on their partners? And why do we forget the things we’ve learnt? Those are just some of the quandaries tackled by the eclectic question-based podcast series from BBC Worldwide. Each mind-opening episode explores one such quandary with the help of numerous experts, each offering a fresh perspective on the world’s most titillating topics. TL

Dolly Parton’s America

Dolly Parton's America

Know next to nothing about Dolly Parton? Neither did US radio DJ Jad Abumrad. However, that’s until he secured an interview with the country music legend, a discussion that revealed that Parton is much much more than a punchline to crude jokes. As this nine-part exploration into the weird and wonderful Dollyverse demonstrates, the singer was at the crossroads of America’s culture wars during her heyday and today holds a staggering influence over modern music and feminist movements. TL

The Clearing

The Clearing

One day in 2009, a 40-year-old American woman called April Balascio reads a story in the newspaper about a cold case. She picks up the phone and calls the detective with a startling claim: she thinks her father, Edward Wayne Edwards, was probably the killer. And she’s right. That’s the starting point for this true crime podcast, which follows April’s journey after her father’s arrest, conviction and death behind bars. April has always wondered if her father was a murderer or a serial killer, and now – with the help of host Josh Dean – she digs back into her childhood, trying to unearth clues and potential connections to other unsolved murders. EBG

Nice Try!

Utopia: humanity hasn’t yet created one. But why? That’s the question behind this thought-provoking podcast examining our perpetual search for paradise. Delving into examples from history and today – including Jamestown, a self-sustaining closed ecosystem in the Arizona desert and even Disney World – each episode examines designs for a perfect society – and what happens when those designs don’t work. TL

Hunting Warhead

Hunting Warhead

Hunting Warhead is a “how we did it” tale about a mission to bring down a global criminal network of people sharing (and creating) child abuse material on the dark web. In a co-production between Canada’s CBC Podcasts and Norwegian newspaper VG, we hear from computer hacker Einar Stangvik and investigative journalist Håkon Høydal; they reveal the twists and turns of their attempts to expose the truth and bring down the perpetrators. And there are plenty of twists and turns! It’s an engrossing tale, with host Daemon Fairless taking us further and further along the path until we’re hearing from those at the very centre of the child pornography network. EBG

Detective Trapp

DETECTIVE TRAPP Final Art

Calling: all fans of Dirty John. The makers of the hit US true-crime podcast (that was eventually adapted into an Eric Bana TV series) are back with a new grim real-life tale. Specifically, the tale of Julissa Trapp. The only female homicide detective in the Anaheim police department, Trapp is a crime scene commander, accomplished undercover cop and expert integrator. But despite this impressive skillset, she’s still put on the back foot in her hardest assignment yet: catching a serial killer alone. TL

The New York Times’ 1619

1619 is part of The New York Times’ groundbreaking project of the same name, which aims at re-examining the legacy of slavery, and takes its title from the date that the first cargo of slaves arrived on American shores. The podcast is fairly compact, with only five episodes – but each one packs a powerful punch, deconstructing the United States’ founding mythology and how the impact of slavery can still be felt today, in the country’s economy, music, healthcare systems, and even the Declaration of Independence. It also poses huge questions to grapple over. For example: would America have ever broken free from British rule if many of its founding fathers did not want to protect slavery? FC

Song Exploder

Song Exploder

This is a must for anyone who considers themselves a fan of music – and especially those interested in the songwriting process. Each episode sees a different artist talk through the composition of one of their hits, finishing with the song being played in full. Previous episodes have featured musicians as varied as Robyn, Slipknot and Bon Iver. PC

The Infinite Monkey Cage

Infinite Monkey Cage - Brian Cox and Robin Ince

Packed with mind-boggling psychics factoids, mind-melting discussions and a whole lot of laughs, The Infinite Monkey Cage is perfect for science-buffs and comedy fans alike. Hosted by never-ageing Professor Brian Cox and the hilarious Robin Ince, the duo call on scientists and comedians to tackle the biggest issues known to man, from quantum mechanics to how to build a bionic human being. Bore-free, educational and very very funny. TL

In Writing with Hattie Crisell

In Writing with Hattie Crisell

For anyone looking to use their period of self-isolation as a chance to put pen to paper, this podcast is the one for you. Freelance writer Hattie Crisell visits the studies of ten writers (from journalists and novelists, to screenwriters) to interview them about their process and what they’ve learnt about writing along the way. Interviewees include novelist David Nicholls, Black Mirror creator (and RadioTimes.com favourite) Charlie Brooker, and the poet Wendy Cope – and you’ll find that all their approaches differ in some way or another. While some need complete silence to write, Times journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera listens to hip-hop to help him concentrate. FC

The new Match of the Day podcast

Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Ian Wright remain on hand for a weekly dose of football in the podcast world rather than the usual Match of the Day format. The trio will debate a fresh subject each week, starting with a deep-dive into some of the greatest captains of the Premier League era. MP

Blethered

Blethered

The concept of Blethered is simple: host Sean McDonald interviews a new guest every episode, normally a fellow Scot. The interviews are laid-back but always entertaining and informative, with guests having included MP Mhairi Black and TV presenter Edith Bowman. The podcast also often focuses on some very serious topics, including suicide and gambling addiction, in an honest and empathetic way. PC

Inside Inside No. 9

Inside Inside No.9

Love the dark genius of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith’s Inside No.9? Well, you’re in luck – because now, you can find out the inspiration between some of the darkest, funniest and twist-iest recent episodes thanks to a new behind-the-scenes podcast. Featuring Pemberton, Shearsmith and a host of guests from each episode, Inside Inside No. 9 is a fascinating glimpse into the unique production process of the anthology drama, currently just covering the most recent episodes. Funny and in-depth, it’s the perfect series accompaniment. HF

Influence Me

Shanie Ryan_Influence Me

TV and radio presenter Shanie Ryan shines the light on some of our most loved and adored social media stars of today in the Influence Me podcast. Joined by a special guest once a fortnight, Shanie takes us through their journey to digital fame, while unpacking a multitude of talking points from veganism to mental health – which couldn’t be more timely, given our current state. In each 45-minute to an hour long show you’ll get to learn more about the stars, and the wonderful, yet crazy world that is social media, but Shanie will also be digging deeper to find out and what’s real and what’s just a “show reel.” Packed with lots of life lessons and laughter, this is definitely one to put on in the morning to set you up for the day ahead. GH

Tunnel 29

Scenes of Berlin 1964 - Bernauer Strasse

As soon as the Berlin Wall went up in August 1961 and sliced the city in two, East Berliners began trying various schemes to escape – and many of their loved ones in West Germany were desperate to get them out. One such scheme was “Tunnel 29”. In this ten-part podcast full of first-person interviews, Helena Merriman tells the true story of a group of young men who dug a tunnel into the East, burrowing right beneath the feat of armed border guards to rescue girlfriends, friends and families. The risks were huge, and they had to be on high alert: who was trustworthy? Would the tunnel flood? Could they really pull this off? EBG

The Missing Crypto Queen

You’ve probably heard of Bitcoin, Have you ever heard of OneCoin? I hadn’t before I listened to this podcast, but this so-called cryptocurrency brought in approximately $4 billion worldwide – and the brains behind it all was a charismatic Bulgarian businesswoman, Dr Ruja Ignatova. She persuaded millions across the globe to join her “financial revolution” and “invest” in OneCoin. But in 2017, as the authorities closed in on this massive Ponzi scheme, Dr Ruja disappeared. Podcast host Jamie Bartlett now investigates the truth behind OneCoin and sets out to trace its missing founder. EBG

Do Go On

Do Go On podcast

For those of you who like to keep things varied, Australian comedians Dave Warneke, Jess Perkins and Matt Stewart tackle something completely different in every episode of their superb podcast Do Go On. Each week, one member of the trio gives a detailed report on a random topic, which could be anything from an event in history to an unsolved murder case or even the life story of a remarkable person like Amelia Earhart or Christopher Lee. The reports are consistently fascinating and well-researched, featuring hilarious tangents, banter and improvisation from the three charming hosts. With over 200 episodes produced so far, there’s plenty to get stuck into and you’re guaranteed to learn something interesting from each one. DC

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Revisionist History

The New Yorker journalist Malcolm Gladwell has often won praise for his original and engaging best-selling novels and this podcast offers more of the same in an audio format. Each episode takes an incident or person from modern history and approaches it from a fresh perspective, with subjects having included the American education system and Elvis Presley. PC