Smart Living

The best podcasts you haven’t listened to yet

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Commute driving you crazy? We’ve gone beyond the top 50 chart to bring you the podcasts that deserve to be in your headphones

Once the week’s editions of Serial, Adam Buxton and This American Life are ticked off, it’s all-too-easy to end up in a podcast drought, fruitlessly scrolling through the charts for the next hit that’ll see you through your hour-long commute home. But it doesn’t have to be like that. From politics to design to mental health, there’s a podcast out there for every mood and interest. Here’s the best under-the-radar shows that should be queued in your podcast app right now.

The Political Party

An energetic mix of interviews, stand-up and impressions, The Political Party is comedian Matt Forde’s contribution to the somewhat saturated political podcast genre. Forde’s offering stands out thanks to his easy humour, balanced interview style and unprecedented access to big names from across the political spectrum – everyone from Tony Blair to Nigel Farage have appeared so far.

Why you should listen: Forde’s nuanced take on politics is a refreshing antidote to the current political landscape of entrenched views and unyielding opinions. And he does great impressions. 

Available on Apple Podcasts and Soundcloud, mattforde.com

The Habitat

In January 2017 six volunteers were shut away for a year on a fake planet Mars on a Hawaiian volcano, restricted to a small white dome the size of two tennis courts. Part of a NASA research project, the aim was to simulate the claustrophobia, cramped living quarters and day-to-day difficulties of living on Mars, to prepare for the day humans will eventually land there. The Habitat follows the crew over the year that followed, via their audio diaries that range from discussing the team’s developing rifts, tensions and romances, to their struggles to unblock a composting toilet.

Why you should listen: Its emotionally intelligent cast of volunteers keeps The Habitat from straying into Big Brother territory, while presenter Lynn Levy sheds light on the very real challenges of space travel, and fascinating stories of missions gone by.

Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, gimletmedia.com

Origins with James Andrew Miller

Author and historian James Andrew Miller started Origins with the aim of exploring the beginnings of pop culture hard hitters. Now encompassing five series, each dedicated to an individual cultural phenomenon, the podcast has dived deep into the stories of everything from Curb Your Enthusiasm to Saturday Night Live, offering interviews and analysis with the key players behind each.

Why you should listen: It’s the podcast to download if you need to quench your thirst for behind-the-scenes stories and anecdotes from the forefront of pop culture.

Available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, originsthepodcast.com

Shedunnit

Hosted by journalist Caroline Crampton, Shedunnit is a celebration of the golden age of crime writing. Each episode of Shedunnit uncovers the social and historical contexts that fuelled the explosion of the genre in the early 20th century, as well as taking an in-depth look at tropes of crime writing, including the ‘surplus women’ of post-WWI Britain and the key role that food (and poisoning) play in the works of Agatha Christie et al.

Why you should listen: Part university lecture, part crime writing fan club, Shedunnit has all the juicy background details true literature fans will love.

Available on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts, shedunnitshow.com

Distraction Pieces by Scroobius Pip

Spoken word artist Scroobius Pip expanded onto the podcasting scene with his weekly offering Distraction Pieces. A weekly podcast featuring unedited, in-depth conversations, Pip has hosted everyone from John Cooper Clarke and Richard E Grant, to artificial intelligence expert Dr Kate Devlin and mortician Carla Valentine.

Why you should listen: Pip’s down-to-earth presenting and intelligent interviewing style allows his guests to bring their own stories to the table with fascinating amounts of detail.

Available on Apple Podcasts, scroobiuspip.co.uk/distraction-pieces-podcast

Two Shot Podcast

Winner of the Best Culture Podcast award at the British Podcast Awards 2018, Two Shot Podcast is hosted by actor Craig Parkinson (Black Mirror and Line of Duty), who sits down to chat with of-the-moment names like Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) and comedian and fellow podcaster Cariad Lloyd.

Why you should listen: More a casual cup of tea with a friend than an in depth grilling, it makes for heartening listening on your daily commute.

Available on Apple Podcasts, twoshotpod.podbean.com

The Naked Professors

Men’s mental health may be a growing subject of conversation, but more still needs to be done with normalising it. The Naked Professors, hosted by TV presenter and mental health ambassador Matt Johnson and life coach Ben Bidwell goes some way to achieving that. In each episode the duo chat with guests about how mental health has affected their lives, as well as laying bare their own challenges and how they’ve faced them head on.

Why you should listen: It’s not often that men are allowed to be vulnerable. Listen to Johnson and Bidwell get down to the nitty gritty with compelling honesty and insight.

Available on Apple Music