All to Play For podcast, & Coral

Football podcasts are two a penny nowadays, but what a discovery All to Play For has been. It is presented by actor and comedian Tom Davis and former West Ham, Chelsea, Liverpool and England star, Joe Cole. Each week they chew over the latest football fat and have a single guest, who they talk to about their career. Nothing particularly innovative about that you may think, and you’d be right. But it is stilla football podcast with a different. Between them, Cole and Davis manage to eek our some really enlightening, funny and surprising anecdotes from their guests in a way that never happens on Sky or the BBC. Cole is speaking to his guests as an equal, and isn’t afraid to be wholly honest about his views on certain players and managers, and this leads his guest into a false sense of security. The episodes with David James and Gareth Barry were cases in point. They lifted the lid on England’s disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa and what Fabio Capello was like as a manager. Suffice to say, they’re not fans of his. It wasn’t done in a bitchy way, but nevertheless, some of the anecdotes were pretty gobsmacking. It made you ask how Capello had ever attracted the reputation which secured him the England job in the first place.

Many of the players on the podcast are ones that Joe Cole has played with at his various clubs or in the England team, and he’s using his contacts book well. I just pray he can lure Paolo Di Canio on at some point.

When I first started listening the podcast, I found Tom Davis to be a slight irritant. His obvious hero worship of Joe Cole was a times a bit sick-inducing but as time went on I came to realise what he’s there to do – and that’s to encourage Joe Cole to be himself and approach the podcast as if it’s two mates chatting down the pub. That’s what Jacqui Smith and I try to do in our ‘For the Many’ podcast, and it’s a recipe the punters like to devour. Cole presented by himself on a a few episodes while Davis was away filming, and I think he surprised himself at how naturally it came to him. He’s got an easy way, and although he sometimes gets a little tongue tied, and plays up to the cockney geezer stereotype a little too much (he’s actually not a cockney and was brought up in Kentish Town) he has an element of the loveable rogue about him, combined with the aura of a nineteen year old cheeky chappy. Age hasn’t lessened his obvious delight and surprise in that he’s had the career he’s had and that he’s doing what he’s doing.

I saw Joe Cole make his debut for West Ham and was distraught when he left the club to join Chelsea after the relegation in 2003. But he’ll always be a Hammer in my mind. But even if I wasn’t a Joe Cole fan or West Ham supporter, I’d still want to listen to this podcast because it gives me, as a football fan, something different to all the other personality based football podcasts.

Most of the guests on this podcasts are household names – Jens Lehman, Robert Huth, Andy Cole, Alan Shearer, Trevor Sinclair, Wayne Bridge, James Collins, Andy Townsend, Kevin Phillips and Darren Bent to name but a few. Most of them are far more eloquent than you imagine footballers could ever be judging from their post match interviews on mainstream TV. Jermain Pennant, for example, was an absolute revelation. Wes Brown, perhaps less so, given that he uttered the immortal phrase ‘do you know what I mean, like’ about 100 times in the space of a 40 minute interview. Despite that, his anecdotes were still something to behold.

I guarantee that if you’re a football fan and you give this podcast a try, you’ll listen to the whole back catalogue.

Line of Duty, BBC & iPlayer

OK, I have given in. Every single person I know seems to watch Line of Duty and is a massive fan. I feel completely left out of conversations around the proverbial watercooler because until a week ago I hadn’t seen a single episode of the six series that have been made. However, on a Sunday night in recent weeks I have caught a few minutes here and there of the latest series.

I decided to start at the beginning, because, as Julie Andrews constantly assures us, it’s a very good place to start. I am now five episodes into Series 1 and I am completely hooked. So much so, that this weekend I fully plan to get to the end of Series 2. I have no idea how accurate the depiction of the Police is. Indeed, I’d hope it’s very inaccurate, but I have rarely seen a series which develops the characters so quickly, so well, and that you feel you know all about them and their back story by the end of episode 2. The whole hour of each episode embodies a sense of rawness, and there’s always the anticipation that something major is about to happen, and if you lose concentration for a second you’ll regret it. As a viewer you’re drawn into the plot and always feel you’re alongside DS Arnott in trying to solve the riddle of the vortex of corruption that has enveloped DCI Tony Gates. On Gogglebox, Jenny from Hull takes notes during each episode, much to the hilarity of her friend Lee. But I can see why. In series 1 the plot is fairly comprehensible. I’m told that changes as we get to series 3 and beyond. Personally, I can’t wait.