This week Iain takes a look at three new podcasts on the block…
OppositionCast with Dr Nigel Fletcher
Everybody seems to be starting a political podcast nowadays, and half of them seem to have the word ‘Cast’ at the end of them. This one, hosted by the Centre for Opposition Studies former director Nigel Fletcher, is an interview-based podcast (aren’t they all?) looking at various aspects of opposition politics. It’s an understudied facet of British politics and Nigel Fletcher has done more than anyone to shine a light into the nooks and crannies of what makes for good opposition politics. This is a comparatively new podcast with only a dozen episodes in the bag, but it makes for fascinating and informative listening. So far he’s covered the role of whipping in opposition, opposition to Donald Trump, the 1945-51 Conservative opposition, opposition in the Lords, Labour under Miliband and how an opposition prepares for power. You might think this makes for fairly dry gruel, but on the contrary. Fletcher’s introductions can be a little ponderous and at times to think, just get on with it, but his interviewing style is light and breezy and the fact that before he became an academic was an adviser to the Conservatives (on education) in opposition, means he brings more to the table than others might. There’s no doubt that this podcast will only ever appeal to the political geek market, but I suspect there are more of us about that people imagine!
Get Onto My Cloud: The Tim Rice Podcast
Tim Rice is one of my favourite people. I don’t know him well, but as a long time admirer of his work, whenever I’ve met him he’s been unfailing nice, helpful and acts like he’s been your best friend for years. I remember seeking him out at a reception we were both out to ask him to bring back the musical CHESS, which I have seen more than a dozen times. We chatted about how it came into being and why it is so underrated, and since then I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing him on my LBC show. When I saw he had a podcast out, I had to delve into it immediately, and what a treasure trove it is. Thirty-six episodes (so far) of hidden treasures from his career and all the stories behind how various hit shows and songs came into being. Obviously, my favourites are the five different episodes devoted to CHESS in which he plays us outtakes and demos of songs which didn’t quite make it. In the latest episode he talks about and plays some cover versions of songs of his performed by famous singers. Barbra Streisand singing I KNOW HIM SO WELL from CHESS and Mike Tyson, yup him, singing ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK. Well, when I say singing… Fascinating, all the same.
‘In the Room’ podcast with Ronnie Barbour
When I first discovered this up to now little known podcast, the thought went through my head: “why didn’t I think of this?” It’s a very simple idea, but a format which allows a wide ranging long form interview. One presenter, one guest and up to an hour to talk about the different rooms they have been in at important points in their careers. Ronnie Barbour is the genial host, and he’s someone who knows how to draw out the best in is guests. A veteran radio presenter he has mastered the art of preparing for an interview without it appearing so. That may sound odd, but what I mean is that it is a conversation rather than an interview, and his guests feel relaxed from the get-go. One of the best things about this podcast is the variety of people he manages to lure onto it, ranging from Dame Joan Bakewell to, er, me and nusing pioneer Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu. This is a podcast in its infancy – only ten episodes to far – but I suspect that it will gradually attract quite a following.