John Mitchison and Andy Miller have been, in the words of their mission statement, “giving new life to old books” for so long now that even if you’ve never heard of each episode’s featured title (Crystal Zevon’s I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, anyone?) there are more than 150 others that you might want to check out on the podcast’s own ever-expanding backlist. In any case, Mitchison and Miller also add their own current reading to the mix, the banter between them and their guests is and the banter between them both engaging and wide-ranging. There are plenty of other literary podcasts around, but try this first. DR
The Rest is Politics
There is, it seems, no end to Gary Lineker’s talents. Quite apart from his abilities as a goalscorer and TV presenter, his company is responsible for two of the sparkiest podcasts around. For over a year now, Dominic Sandbrook and Tom Holland’s The Rest is History have been picking over the past with passion and panache, and since March, Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart have been doing the same with the often poisonous politics of the present. Both are well-informed insiders on different sides of the political fence, but the dynamic between them is podcast gold. DR
This American Life
Long before spin-offs Serial (or the even-better S-Town) broke the podcasting mould – all the way back to 1995, in fact – Ira Glass of WBEZ Chicago has been putting together a programme for US public radio that matches the very best shows on BBC Sounds. Each week there is a collection of stories on a different theme, or a whole episode on, say, an all-night-restaurant or whether a group of car salesmen can hit their monthly targets. A new episode drops every Monday morning, and there are already more than 700 to catch up on. Dig in. DR
The first six series of Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History have embraced topics as disparate as Elvis’s Freudian slips, lotteries, US bombing strategy, golf courses, country music or the fallibility of memory, so only a fool would try to predict what he has in store for the imminent ten episodes “re-examining something from the past that’s been forgotten or misunderstood” in season seven. Whatever he picks, though, one thing is certain: when it comes to neatly packaged narrative style and making complex ideas easily digestible, Gladwell is in a class of his own. DR
Now, Where Were We?
“Dad couldn’t get his head round what a podcast is, so I told him it was like radio with less pay,” Barry Cryer’s son Bob explains. Sadly, the two of them only had time to sit down and trade jokes and anecdotes with half a dozen separate showbiz friends (Stephen Fry and Danny Baker are the best value) before veteran comedian Barry died in January. Full of love and laughter – and the best parrot jokes you will ever hear. DR