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17 of the best podcasts to listen to now

Whether you're after an informative deep-dive or a mindless laugh, we've compiled the best podcasts to listen to for downtime, me-time or just pass-the-time.

Finding yourself spending more time behind the wheel after mothballing the car for the best part of the year? Whether it’s the school run or the commute, we’re back on the road and we’re finding it, frankly, a little uninspiring.

Whether it’s Texas/Lighthouse Family on loop or R&B hell, the radio can get a little nauseating. And then there’s the minefield of finding music that everyone in the car agrees on. Solution: the brave new(ish) world of podcasts.

OK, so maybe you’re a little late to the party, but having got into podcasts, we’re sold. The next challenge? Choosing one. There’s a myriad out there and much like the rest of the internet, the quality is variable. With genres from true crime to psychology, wellbeing, celebrity interviews, style gurus, dog lovers (and ones actually for your dog), who’s got time to scroll through what to listen to?

Fear not! Muddy’s done all the scrolling for you. Whether you’re stuck in a car, busy in the kitchen, mowing the lawn, or out jogging with the dog, these are the best podcasts to listen to in spring 2021 – with or without the kids (or dog) in earshot.

FRESH AND NEW

Archewell Audio (with Meghan and Harry)

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex on a podcast! Love or hate them and the media circus around them (plus the bizarre choice of name for the podcast based on their son, Archie) … it’s happening. Archewell Audio hears from the couple’s celebrity pals (James Corden and Matt Haig were among those in the first episode) and seeks to “spotlight diverse perspectives and voices”. There’s only one episode out so far, and it’s insightful, but don’t expect much by the way of nitty gritty about the couple themselves. You’ll have to replay the Oprah interview for that.

Listen on Spotify.

Teach Me A Lesson with Greg James and Bella Mackie

Back to school, but with banter. Each week Radio 1 presenter Greg James and author Bella Mackie are given a lesson from a teacher or expert/celebrity. So far there’s been languages, chemistry and biology, and more. Rather than the GCSE curriculum, it’s bigger questions like ‘Why do we get ill?’ or ‘Are people born evil?’. The couple, who are married, learn along with the listener, handily asking just the questions that you’re thinking. The delightful back-and-forth of people totally at ease in one another’s company mixed with witty, genuinely interesting subjects makes for a great listen. And a guaranteed life lesson, too.

Listen on BBC Sounds, or wherever you get your podcasts.

CultureBlast

This new podcast takes a deep-dive each episode into the world of culture, accompanied by a different leading figure. Hosted by the New York Times’ Farah Nayeri, it hit the ground running with its first episode, which offers a compelling interview with actress (and national treasure) Emma Thompson.

Listen on Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

INFORMATIVE

Newscast

A 30 minute blast of the hottest political and cultural stories of the day. Listening to this BBC Sounds staple means you can show everyone how on top of current affairs you are — result.

Listen on BBC Sounds, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Grounded with Louis Theroux

The big LT himself — of beloved documentary-making fame — has been doing a podcast for the BBC since early last year, and nailing it. Each episode sees an interview with a different celebrity, and features Theroux’s textbook subtle wit and knack for asking the right thing. Past guests have included Helena Bonham Carter, Lenny Henry, and I May Destroy You‘s Michaela Coel.

Listen on BBC Sounds, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Happy Place

Happy Place delves into the subject of happiness with a star-studded line-up of guests, hosted by the infinitely-likeable Fearne Cotton. Conversations cover ambition, coping with stress, and how people build their happy places. Previous guests have included Robbie Williams, Sam Smith, and Dawn French.

Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Something Rhymes with Purple

Susie Dent (of Countdown‘s Dictionary Corner) chats all things wordy with broadcaster and former politician Gyles Brandreth in this endearingly nerdy podcast. It’s gentle listening, but gold for giving you random facts to use at that next stale dinner party. Did you know the word ‘slogan’ goes back to a Medieval word ‘slughorn’, meaning a battle cry? Well, you do now.

Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Happy Mum, Happy Baby

Winner of I’m a Celebrity, Giovanni Fletcher, chats to high-profile mums and dads on the topic of parenting. Samantha Cameron, Richard and Judy, and Joe Wicks are all past guests. Covering lots of topics that aren’t talked enough about and engaging to boot, it’s a great resource for parents.

Listen on Acast, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

You’re Wrong About

Each week, journalists Michael Hobbs and Sarah Marshall look at a different event, person, or phenomenon that’s been miscast in the public imagination. Topics have included the death of Princess Diana, O.J Simpson’s trial, and the Y2K bug, each taken apart and examined in painstaking detail. The tone is probing, informative, and often comedic.

Listen on Sticher, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

My Favorite Murder

True Crime podcasts are all the rage these days, and if that’s something you’re interested in, My Favourite Murder is a must-listen. American stand-up comedian Karen Kilgariff and her friend writer Georgia Hardstark tell each other their favourite murder stories. Indulging in a good bit of dark comedy, it’s a comfortingly irreverent approach to crime.

Listen on Sticher, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

CHATTY

Shagged. Married. Annoyed.

Consistently at the top of the podcast charts and winner of a long slew of awards, this has to be the number one podcast for making you laugh out loud whilst walking alone. Comedian Chris Ramsey and his wife Rosie chat and bicker while reacting to all manner of stories sent in by the public. It’s down-to-earth and at times charmingly unpolished, and just feels like a juicy chat with good friends.

Listen on Acast, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Table Manners with Jessie Ware

Popstar Jessie Ware and her mum have people round to dinner. The resulting conversations, helped along by wine and good food, are funny and feel utterly un-staged. Mother and daughter bounce off each other and bicker and are consistently, charmingly normal. The long and impressive list of guests has included Dolly Parton, Ottolenghi, Richard Curtis, and Kylie Minogue.

Listen on Acast, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Lockdown Parenting Hell

It’s one of the most popular podcasts in the country for a reason. Comedians Josh Widdicombe and Rob Beckett tackle and bemoan parenting with a different celebrity guest each week in fast, funny, and often touching conversations. Guests have included Michael Sheen and Paddy McGuinness. The big draw is double appeal: amusingly relatable for parents, and entertaining proof of what-could-be-worse for non-parents.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster

Comedians Ed Gamble and James Acaster interview celebrities about their dream dinner menu. It’s as wacky as those familiar with James Acaster’s comedy style will expect — genies, lengthy surreal jokes, the whole shebang — and has even spawned the twitter account ‘No Context Off Menu‘, which is an hour-long scroll waiting to happen. The tangibly warm friendship between Ed and James, as well as their quick wit, keeps even episodes with theoretically dry guests entertaining.

Listen on Acast, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

Fortunately… with Fi and Jane

Broadcasters Fi Glover (The Listening Project) and Jane Garvey (Woman’s Hour) converse with great wit and conviviality. It’s the kind of gorgeous, easy and engaging banter that can only be shared between two genuinely good friends. Perfect for whacking on while you do the laundry. There’s a guest each week, yet somehow the best bit is Fi and Jane musing about such banalities as their favourite ring on the hob, or where all the scuff in the cutlery drawer comes from.

Listen on BBC Sounds, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Out to Lunch with Jay Rayner

Food critic Jay Rayner takes guests out to great restaurants (or orders-in for them during lockdowns) and teases out their best anecdotes. Prepare for real restaurant envy and good conversation.

Listen on Acast, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.

AND SOMETHING A BIT QUIRKY

My Dog’s Favourite Podcast

Okay, this one isn’t necessarily for you to listen to. (Unless you’re a canine reading prodigy, that is). An audio experience designed specifically to calm and reassure dogs, you play this to soothe your home alone pet. Not a huge issue right now, but as things move back to normal there will be a lot more dogs left on their own, lonely and stressed. The low music and soothing voices of My Dog’s Favourite Podcast mean that Fido should feel a lot more comfortable while you’re out.

Listen on Spotify.

Angling for a good read instead? Try the best new books out this April.

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