With the whole of the UK now in coronavirus lockdown, huge numbers of us have turned to streaming apps, TV and radio for entertainment. Even board games are making a comeback! We’re in strange and uncharted territory, readers.
Thank goodness then, for podcasts and the momentary distraction they can provide. This fortnight’s recommender deliberately steers clear of virus-themed shows – but if you are finding those helpful, BBC Sounds’ The Coronavirus Newscast is probably the best – and concentrates on podcasts that will take your mind somewhere else.
As ever, it’s five tips from me, and five from NME readers. I’m keen to hear your new discoveries more than ever. Tweet me @GregCochrane on Twitter, or @NME using the hashtag PodcastsForThePeople. After all, we could all be here a while…
What Greg’s been listening to
A British passport and a Singaporean passport: you can't have both, and @misszing needs to make a decision.
— BBC Sounds (@BBCSounds) March 21, 2020
The low-down: Zing Tsjeng is in the middle of a citizenship dilemma: after spending half her life in the UK the journalist, who is originally from Singapore, is deciding whether to take a British passport. Dual nationality, in this instance, isn’t an option. Before Zing takes the plunge she embarks on a journey to drill down into what it means to be British – for that, she takes trips to each corner of the Isles to find out what national identity means to locals. First up it’s Liverpool – an episode about Scouse pride and what makes the city unique – while the superb second instalment visits councillor Chelsey Jay in her constituency of Witham, Essex. On the surface it’s a podcast about personal choice – will she? won’t she? – but there’s a deeper appeal: it’s a dissection of modern Britishness and how diversity and acceptance is its greatest strength.
Where to hear it: BBC Sounds
Start with this: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p086g590
The first episode of my new @Spotify Podcast “Lifers” is up now! It’s about the sacrifices that metal bands make to do what they love. First episode is with the wonderful Brian Tatler. Listen and share. https://t.co/6cVRheikDo
— Ed Gamble (@EdGambleComedy) March 19, 2020
The low-down: When it comes to podcasts, comedians Ed Gamble and James Acaster might be best known for shouting “poppadoms or bread” at celebrities on Off Menu but away from the restaurant table they’re both not-so-secretly huge music fans. Ed Gamble loves heavy metal and this podcast is about metal’s ‘most dedicated disciples’. In the opening episode Gamble visits Brian Tatler from 1980s band Diamond Head – acknowledged by Metallica and Megadeth as being an early influence – at his West Midlands home to talk about the 45 years he’s spent playing gigs, his nine cats and a life spent as a die-hard rock fan. Still to come in this series: Cradle of Filth’s Dani Filth and Steve Grimmett from Grim Reaper. It taps into a similar vein as Anvil: The Story of Anvil – the heavy metal music documentary from 2008 – where metal isn’t just a sound, but a code to live by.
Where to hear it: Spotify
The Immaculate Deception
The low-down: Imagine discovering you have siblings you didn’t previously know about. Now imagine finding out that you might have 60+ half-siblings you previously knew nothing about. The Immaculate Deception is the story of Jan Karbaat, a fertility doctor who ran a clinic in Rotterdam, Netherlands in the 1980s. He secretly used his own sperm to inseminate patients – without their knowledge or agreement – and fathered a lot of children. Reporter Jenny Kleeman revisits the scandal in this nine-part investigation. We soon learn the Karbaat case is only just the beginning; there are multiple examples of doctors doing the same. Kleeman speaks to those who were deceived, hears their shocking stories and uncovers a whole range of complex, physiological after-effects.
Where to hear it: Apple Podcasts
We Bought A House
The low-down: There was a joke doing the rounds on social media as the coronavirus outbreak began to take grip about how self-isolation was going to give birth to a whole load of new (and potentially not very good) podcasts. Embracing that nationwide house arrest Finneas O’Connell – brother and collaborator of Billie Eilish – has started his own with his partner, YouTuber Claudia Sulewski. Thankfully this one is good. In fact, once they get going it’s pretty entertaining. Episode one hears the couple talk about their quarantine diet (they’re currently hunkered down in their new house in LA) right through to their earliest internet memories. Give it a go, even if it’s just to hear Finneas call President Trump an “douche canoe” (an excellent insult that I’m definitely adopting). New episodes drop weekly.
Where to hear it: Anchor, Spotify, Apple
Is It Rolling, Bob? Talking Dylan
Working from home in the afternoon calls for vinyl reassessment. Please don’t anyone say ‘underrated’. pic.twitter.com/SkJEduDN67
— Is It Rolling, Bob? Talking Dylan (@isitrollingpod) March 25, 2020
The low-down: There are a number of podcasts purely dedicated to the singular brilliance and influence of Bob Dylan. But this one, presented by actors Kerry Shale and Lucas Hare, is like a fan convention in audio form: each time a different guest joins them to talk about their appreciation of King Bobby. The latest episode features Nish Kumar – that guy loves a podcast guest spot – and sees the comedian talking about how Dylan’s bloody-minded obstinance has helped shape his own approach to hecklers and how his hair grows like the ‘Blonde On Blonde’ album cover. One for the many people who never tire of dissecting the music of Dylan.
Where to hear it: Podbean, Apple and other major podcast places
What you’ve been listening to
The official trailer for Office Ladies drops next Wednesday! Subscribe now wherever you get podcasts to be the first to hear it! https://t.co/5R5wIGbI1L
— Office Ladies: The Podcast (@officeladiespod) September 17, 2019
Recommended by: Emily, @pizzaandemily on Twitter
The low-down: Where stars Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey of the hit US version of The Office are rewatching every episode of the hit comedy – until maybe one day a reunion arrives…
Emily says: “It keeps the magic of my favourite show going. I love it so much.”
Where to hear it: Stitcher – and other podcast apps
Start with this: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/earwolf/office-ladies/e/66398445
Struggling to work from home? We’ve got some tips and motivation for you. Mainly: don’t stress that you’re doing it wrong, and ignore all the OTT advice floating around twitter. Also, go nude? https://t.co/5hTxPic6ZN pic.twitter.com/08QtJ0CQkt
— Nobody Panic (@nobodypanicpod) March 24, 2020
Recommended by: Lily, @lilyajones99 on Twitter
The low-down: There is no guidebook to adulthood but there is this podcast hosted by Stevie Martin and Tessa Coates. Especially useful right now, most recently they were on hand with advice on working from home, social distancing and generally not losing your mind.
Lily says: “It’s my favourite. Listen to it everywhere. If I’m having a bad day I’ll put it on.”
Where to hear it: Apple Podcasts
Recommended by: Sandy Nimmo, @Unidentifiabl on Twitter
The low-down: No song – either great or terrible – is safe from this podcast which promises to “hyper-analyse” tracks. In the past that’s meant they’ve gone deep on the likes of Oasis’ ‘Champagne Supernova’ through to REM’s ‘It’s The End of the World A We Know It (And I Feel Fine)’.
Sandy tweets: “The main hosts have the perfect sense of humour combined with music/English nerdiness. It has introduced me to music both great and terrible.”
Where to hear it: Apple Podcasts, Simplecast and more
Start with this: https://decompositionpodcast.simplecast.com/
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Broads, have you checked out our recap of the 1st episode of LOVE IS BLIND?? If you have not watched it yet, please do and join us on this recap journey! And if you have already binge watched the series we hope you enjoy our “spoiler free” recaps of it – yes, we know it came out months ago but we (@bekah and @thebaddmom) are attempting to recap episode by episode with no idea how this whole thing plays out! So please, no “spoilers”🙈. Our recap of episode 2 drops first thing Tuesday morning – we can’t wait to take a deep breath and giggle with you all. Chat soon xx
Recommended by: Lexi, @lxxmadison on Twitter
The low-down: Long-running comedy and chat from hosts Bekah Martinez and Jess Ambrose. Currently it’s all about Netflix’s Love Is Blind show.
Lexi writes: “They cover a wide range of subjects (from The Bachelor to friendships and larger issues) and don’t hold back at all.”
Where to hear it: Audioboom
Start with this: https://audioboom.com/channels/4985277
The Naughtiest Noughty
Download and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts – it's free!https://t.co/3t5Ko4lltQ
— The Naughtiest Noughty (@Naughty00Pod) March 27, 2020
Recommended by: Liam, @JarvisMilburn on Twitter
The low-down: Where hosts Liam and Scott are listening to every song that reached the UK Top 10 (yep, massive undertaking) and asking, ‘was it any good?’ Eventually a winner will be declared.
Liam tweets: “Gonna be cheeky and shout my own podcast out, I think NME readers would really like it!”
Where to hear it: Spotify
Start with this: https://open.spotify.com/episode/140RlGaRyTYQt1NLYmmfsU