I keep talking to people about podcasts, so here’s my list of the ones I’ve probably recommended at you:

Ones I listen to regularly

  • Do The Right thing – Comedy panel show where guests have to figure out the right way to respond to given situations. More comedy than panel show.
  • Something Rhymes With Purple – Gyles Brandreth and Susie Dent talk about language and etymology
  • Page 94, the private eye podcast – detailled stuff about stories they’re running, you don’t need to read the magazine for it to make sense
  • Dan Snow’s History Hit – different historian each episode (normally plugging a book) 30-60min of explanation about a different niche of history each time. really annoying ads though
  • Rex Factor – Old, going through all the kings & queens of British history making top trumps cards for each of them, one per episode.
  • Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast – he interviews a comedian each fortnightish, rife with in-jokes and you really ought to get his comedy.
  • More Or Less – Takes some facts, figures or stats from the recent news and explains why they’re interesting, remarkable or wrong, and/or how they were calculated.
  • The Allusionist – Etymology and words in general
  • The Bugle – News/satire/bullshit
  • The Tip Off – Reporters describe the process of investigating and breaking their big investigative stories
  • 99% Invisible – (american) About design, largely the bits of it that aren’t that obvious
  • We Have Ways of Making You Talk – Al Murray and James Holland talking about World War Two. Set up mostly as an amateur enthusiast talking to an actual historian about things.
  • Smart Enough To Know Better – Two Australian science teachers entertainingly talking about science and stuff
  • Twenty Thousand Hertz – (american) about sounds and sound design in a “I’d never thought about that” sort of way, rather than anything too niche and nerdy
  • Radiolab – (american) Well-made and designed science documentaries
  • Radio 4 Comedy of the week – A single episode of a comedy from the R4 schedule from the previous week. Always a single episiode so if you like it you often have to find it on iPlayer to get the rest. Also there’s a good chance you’ll not like it on any given week.
  • Freakonomics Radio – (american) Humans often act irrationally, which has confounded economists in the past and lead to the creation of “behavioural economics”. This show describes and explains some of those weird things humans tend to do; it’s very accessbile though does have the odd episode dedicated to interviewing an economist.
  • Friday Night Comedy (Radio 4) – One of The Now Show, The News Quiz or Dead Ringers, depending on which is in the friday-night comedy slot on R4. Always a satire show.
  • Hidden Brain – (american) Stories highlighting how our unconscious or hidden thinking affects society and human relationships.
  • Off Menu – James Acaster and Ed Gamble interview comedians (and sometimes just famous people) mostly about their favourite food. The set-up is that in the course of the show the guest puts together their ideal meal.
  • International Waters – Pop-culture comedy quiz show about US/UK pop-culture. One team is American and gets questions about British things, the other is British and gets American questions.
  • The Bottom Line – Essentially a podcast about how business works. Each episide has a question or theme, and a panel of leaders from relevant businesses discuss and explain it.
  • New Statesman – A sort-of political/newsy round-up show that doesn’t irritate me with its partisanship.
  • Invisibilia – Examines beliefs, ideas, common assumptions and how they unexpectedly or quietly affect how humans behave.
  • Beyond Today – Some background to a currently-running story (companion to the Today programme, but not at all requiring of having listened to it)
  • Reply All – A podcast about the Internet. It’s hard to categorise, but is wonderful more for the presenters and their attitude than any particular subject matter. Covers the social side of the Internet, really.
  • Cautionary Tales – Stories of problems caused by human error, and how we might think differently to make them less likely to happen

Ones I’ve listened to before but for one reason or another stopped subscribing:

  • No Such Thing As A Fish – by the QI researchers and is mostly trivia (with the same sometimes-made-up problem as QI proper)
  • Answer Me This – Listeners send in questions, Helen and Olly answer them. Largely social/political situations and opinion, rather than trivia
  • The Naked Scientists – science news, not very jokey
  • The Week Unwrapped – Current affairs show about now-small stories that are expected to become more important in the future. I used to listen to this but got really annoyed with one of the regular guests and so stopped. She might not be on it any more and/or you might not find her annoying.
  • Reasons to be Cheerful – Each episode focusses on either a problem for which there are some emerging solutions, or a single large solution to a problem. The focus is on upcoming political positives and improvements.

I’ve never really listened to My Dad Wrote A Porno but it is very popular. It’s three people reading a dirty romance novel someone (the father of one of the presenters) wrote really badly and commenting on how badly written it is.