Podcast

Ear Candy: The Tennis Podcast

For anyone living under a rock: a 20-year-old Spanish phenomenon named Carlos Alcaraz somehow came back from a set down in the Wimbledon men’s final to defeat Novak Djokovic, who was all set to equal the now-retired Roger Federer’s record of eight titles on the hallowed grass.

The cliché of the day was “the changing of the guard”, as Federer, Djokovic and another elder, Rafael Nadal, had long resembled a three-headed beast guarding the gates of the grand slams.

Ear Candy: Football Ruined My Life

Football may still be “the beautiful game”, but it has seen some ugly modern developments. That is why author Colin Shindler, journalist Patrick Barclay and football agent Jon Holmes have donned their rose-tinted glasses for a nostalgic look at the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s in a new podcast: Football Ruined My Life.

This was a time, says Shindler, “when football represented everything hopeful and optimistic in our lives”, and wasn’t full of “bile and spite, too much money and everyone behaving badly”.

Ear Candy: Obsessed with…Happy Valley

Obsessed with… Happy Valley podcast (credit: BBC)

As Sally Wainwright’s masterful Yorkshire noir approaches the end of its third and final series – and Sarah Lancashire’s heroic Sergeant Catherine Cawood her long overdue retirement – it’s worth savouring every episode.

Obsessed with... Happy Valley is the BBC’s companion podcast, in which comedians Amy Gledhill and Isy Suttie discuss the drama episode by episode. From the start, Wainwright begins to weave several narrative strands, so there is plenty to pore over.

Ear Candy: Unreal: A Critical History of Reality TV

I say this not simply to air my grievances but to recommend a defence against such snobbery. Pandora Sykes and Sirin Kale’s new 10-part podcast, Unreal: A Critical History of Reality TV, makes a thorough case for the genre’s cultural significance, without turning a blind eye to its shaky ethical foundations.  

Ear Candy: Bunk Bed

Bunk Bed (credit: BBC Radio 4)

It probably sounds strange, but there’s no better way to put the brakes on your own racing thoughts than to listen to two grown men lying in a bunk bed, rambling on about life and death and everything in between.

That’s the basis of their podcast, Bunk Bed, which first aired on BBC Radio 4 in 2014 and has just finished its ninth series. There’s no structure, only what they describe as a “stream of semi-consciousness,” which gives rise to any number of random thoughts, often silly but sometimes quite profound.

Ear Candy: Female Pilot Club

The findings suggest the bias against female TV writers is caused by a straightforward lack of representation. But perhaps, as Georgia Pritchett suggests in the first episode of Female Pilot Club, there is a concern that if there is more than one woman in the same writers’ room, “Their ovaries will start synchronising, clubbing together and forming a suicide pact.” 

Ear Candy: Things Fell Apart

Credit: BBC

In Things Fell Apart, he excavates the battlegrounds of the American culture wars to find their origin stories, and explains how, exactly, things fell apart and left the country so fractured and polarised. Abortion, homosexuality, cancel culture, Satanism – he picks the biggest and most violent battles. But the episodes start in such obscure places and take such unexpected turns that each one is a revelatory listen. 

Ear Candy: Storytime with Seth Rogen

Credit: Earwolf

The concept sounds standard enough: actor and comedian Seth Rogen asks famous friends to tell a personal story. But Rogen transforms the stories into breezy “audio documentaries” that are, by turns, wholesome, funny and surprisingly revelatory. 

The first episode, Glorious Basterds, is a definitive rejection of that old adage, “never meet your heroes”, as comedian Quinta Brunson recalls her chance encounter with Paul Rudd at a matinee of Inglourious Basterds, where he inspired her to leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses to pursue freely a career in comedy. 

Ear Candy: Inside Inside No. 9

So, if ever the fans of a TV series might have pleaded for a podcast that deconstructs each episode, Inside Inside No. 9 answers that call.

Becoming even more granular than the series itself, the two creators and stars, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, dissect each episode after it has aired.

Every week, the masters of mis­direction are joined by a different member of the Inside No. 9 team to talk about the making of the programmes.