Back in January 2021 I compiled a list of 30 podcasts I regularly listen to. So I thought it was time to revisit it, as my podcast listening habits have changed somewhat. I've reduced the list to twenty and this year I've ranked them based on how often I listen to them. The top dozen I listen to more or less every episode. The others I dip into depending on what they're talking about or who they are interviewing
I don't pretend these are the best twenty podcasts on the internet; they're just the ones that I enjoy and happily recommend you to try...
1. What Most People Think with Geoff Norcott
Over the last year this has become the podcast that I always listen to first as soon as it downloads. Geoff Norcott is a centre right comedian and you don't get many of them to the pound. He's built up quite a profile over the last few years. He usually has a guest co-presenter and they chew over the world of comedy and current affairs. Sometimes, however, it's just him musing over a few subjects that he finds amusing. It's very high on the addiction factor!
Still my favourite podcast and I never miss an episode. They start with 15 minutes of banter between themselves about their week, which is invariably hilariously funny and completely unrehearsed. It can sometimes be a bit emotional and they sail very close to the wind in their comments about the BBC. I actually prefer it when they don't have a guest and just rabbit on!
3. The Imposter with Tom Harris
This has become one of my favourites. It's a sort of audiobook version of former Labour MP Tom Harris's time in politics. I'm never quite sure how scripted it is, but it's very funny at times and takes you through all the oddities and idiosyncracies of political life. From time to time he interviews a guest, but 90% of the time, it's just Tom talking for 12-15 minutes. He always leaves you wanting more.
4 .Moore Than Just a Podcast
If you're not a West Ham fan, this is probably not for you, but it gives me a weekly fix of Hammers banter and gossip. Hosted by West Ham blogger Sean Whetstone, he tries (not often with success) to control the other four contributors, Nigel Kahn (Shedman), Canning Town Len and John and George Bucci. I even make the odd appearance myself if I'm not working.
5. Get Onto my Cloud with Sir Tim Rice
Tim Rice is one of the most fascinating and entertaining people I know. In this anecdote laden podcast series he talks about his career and all the musicals he's been involved in. He also plays some of the songs that didn't quite make the cut or demo versions of those that did. He doesn't have guests. It's just him and it's all the better for it.
6. All to Play For with Joe Cole
This podcast has gone through various co-presenters with Joe Cole - Tom Davis, Lyndsay Hipgrave and Adam Smith - but he's currently got former Chelsea and Fulham player Steve Sidwell, who's the best one so far. It has been known for Joe to host on his own and he's perfectly capable of doing it. In each episode he invites a former teammate or famous player on and they talk about their career and current issues in football. Cole is quite excitable and a real enthusiast and full of very entertaining stories. It has become a bit irregular though, and needs to get back to being a weekly podcast.
7. The Chris Moyles Show
This is much more than a 'best of the week' podcast, as it usually contains at least half an hour of extra material. Chris Moyles is joined by Pippa Taylor, Dominic Byrne, Matt Parkes-Smith and James Robinson who are all a brilliant foil for Chris. I had never listened to him before he came to Radio X, but I've become a big fan. He also knows his politics and loves a good political debate. He also does some brilliant LBC skits.
8. The Political Party with Matt Forde
Matt Forde is one of the funniest people in the media. I love his impressions, especially those of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, who he does better than anyone else. His podcast has now gone weekly and as well his live events he also does pre-recorded interviews with people in the world of politics, current affairs and the media. A bit like Eamonn Holmes, he's great at dragging things out of people without appearing to do so.
9. Rachel Johnson's Difficult Women
Rachel Johnson is a superb interviewer and her interviewees really respond to her style. I tend to binge listen to this one and even when she has a guest I think I won't find interesting, Rachel has a way of making them interesting. She's a natural conversationlist but also doesn't shy away from asking the difficult questions. Sometimes I wonder if she is "going to go there", but she always does, and in a way which doesn't appear intrusive.
10. Westminster Insider
Jack Blanchard is a superb presenter and this is an incredibly well produced - some might say over-produced - podcast. He does the sort of documentaries which Radio 4 used to do so well, but rarely make nowadays. He sometimes takes on a theme, and at other times interviews one person. In either mode you can be sure of a fantastic listen. His interview with Owen Paterson about his wife's suicide was beyond comparison. I interview Owen a few weeks later but knew I would never match Jack's interview.
11. State of Mind with Richard Sefton
Richard Sefton is a mental health counsellor and in this podcast he puts various well known and not so well known people on his metaphical couch. I was his guinea pig in the pilot episode and he made me cry three times. He never fails to get a lot out of his interviewees and his two hour episode with Mark Anthony Ward, who is one of the victims of the infected blood scandal, was probably the best podcast I have heard in the last year. He knows when to let his subjects continue to speak without interruptions, which is a key asset for any interviewer.
I don’t really listen to many Radio 4 programmes, but I do listen to the podcast of Feedback, mainly because I find it so unintentionally hilarious. The BBC loves nothing better to beat itself up about its own activities, and Feedback is only too happy to help. Essentially, it’s mainly about Radio 4 programmes, although they sometimes make an effort to widen their coverage. They really need to drop the 'taking radio 4 listeners out of their comfort zone' feature. Dire.
13. The Price of Football
Hosted by Crystal Palce supporting comedia Kevin Day and Brighton fan and university academic Kieran Maguire, this podcast looks at the finances of football. It's more interesting than it sounds, believe me. They get the big interviews with the football chairmen and chief executives which you just don't hear elsewhere. One of my favourites was with the new Swindon Town chief executive who has had to turn the club round after a decade of mismanagement.
14. Quickly Kevin, Will He Score with Chris Scull & Josh Widdecombe
An homage to all things nineties in the football world. It's very bantery and sometimes a bit hit and miss, but they get some really good guests and really delve deep into their subjects. It's very annoying that a lot of their material is behind a Patreon paywall, but I suspect that's the way a lot of podcasts are going.
15. Political Thinking with Nick Robinson
This is exactly what podcasts should be all about - going beyond what you can do on a normal radio show. Nick's interviews with prominent politicos are usually around half an hour long and he also incudes some commentary of what's happened in the week. Given a lot of people won't listen to the podcast in the week it's published I wonder whether that part of it couldn't be dropped in favour of a longer interview. It's rare that the interviews don't commit news.
16. Media Masters
Presented by former New Labour advisor turned PR guru Paul Blanchard this podcast is one of my favourites. Each fortnight he interviews a leading media figure about their careers and how they got to where they are. He’s got a real knack of getting things out of people, and the one to one lengthy format allows him to do that. His guests range from very famous media legends like John Humphrys, Jeremy Vine and Alan Rusbridger to the people who run media companies that you’ve probably never heard of. To my mind there are too many of the latter, nowadays. But even when I listen to an episode I don’t think I’ll be interested in, I am often surprised. You can listen to his interview with me HERE.
17. The Mid-Point with Gabby Logan
I discovered this podcast fairly recently, when I saw Jane Garvey and Fi Glover were on it. I presented Sunday Service with Gabby Logan once and thought she was fabulous. She has a very natural way about her and an infectious laugh. The podcast is all about what it's like to reach the mid point of your life. Or maybe a bit further. I'm now wroking my way through some back episodes.
Hosted by comedians Konstantin Kisin and Francis Foster, Triggernometry really gets into the meat of an issue and has a single guest on each weekly podcast. Some of them are famous, some of them you've never heard of. It's not a comedy podcast, although there are funny moments. They're fairly fearless in the subejcts they cover. Also available on video on Youtube.
19. The Media Podcast with Matt Deegan
A fortnightly media panel show now hosted by Matt Deegan, which discusses all aspects of the media from radio to TV, from the internet to the business of the media. Guests are encourage to show their sense of humour. A lot of them are not household names, even in the media but in some ways that's an advantage. It ends with a media quiz, which is sometimes a little cringy.
20. How to Fail with Elizabeth Day
This is such a British podcast. We love talking about our own failures, and I wish I had had the idea for this podcast. I started listening to it for the Jane Garvey episode but I now listen to each edition. You actually learn things from it too. If Elizabeth ever invites me on, I could probably fill three editions...
And here are my 6 podcasts!