You may have noticed the word podcast appearing left, right and centre. Maybe at the end of your favourite BBC Radio 4 show, or perhaps dotted about the supplements of your favourite broadsheet. Whether you’re a podcast aficionado, or you’re yet to dive in, we explore this new boundary in broadcasting and recommend some of the finest out there to get you started.

What Is A Podcast?

Put quite simply, a podcast is an audio programme that you can either download onto a device such as a smartphone or tablet, or listen to on your internet browser. Think of it like a radio show whose episodes you can download and listen to whenever and wherever you like, for free.

How Do I Get Started?

All you need is a connection to the internet, either via your computer, smartphone or tablet. Most smartphones and tablets have an in-built podcast platform which makes getting started even easier. For a full podcast tutorial, this excellent article on The Guardian’s website is the ideal step-by-step guide.

Once you’re set up, we’ve put together a list of some of our most-loved podcasts, at turns inspiring, illuminating and always entertaining.


The Guardian Books Podcast

Early to the podcast revolution, The Guardian has been podcasting for over a decade and boasts a whole host of podcasts on topics ranging from politics and culture to football and film. We particularly love their Books podcast, a weekly look at the world of books, poetry and great writing presented by Claire Armitstead, Richard Lea and Sian Cain.

Where to start?

We love this conversation with Cambridge classics professor Mary Beard about her book Women and Power | The Guardian Books Podcast: Mary Beard on Women and Power



The Happy Place Podcast

Television personality and broadcaster Fearne Cotton joins the podcast zeitgeist with her series, Happy Place. Interviewing a host of household names, she takes a look at the pressures of modern life and finding the key to unlocking your inner happiness. A ray of sunshine and guaranteed to inspire.

Where to start?

Fearne chats to former Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young on the inspirational figures she’s had the pleasure to interview in her 12 years as host |Happy Place: Kirsty Young  



Invisibilia

Taking its name from the Latin for ‘the invisible things’, the NPR produced US podcast Invisibilia explores the invisible forces that shape human behaviour. It’s not as sci-fi as it sounds – instead Invisibilia takes a compassionate and carefully-crafted look into some of the most incredible human experiences and explores them using cutting-edge science and psychological research. You’re sure to come away with a new perspective on how we live now.

Where to start?

The first episode of the podcast’s fourth season is a moving look at how we rearrange our world after experiencing loss | Invisibilia: I, I, I. Him


This Is Love

This Is Love is the latest offering from podcast network Radiotopia. Love is their topic, but it’s not just the romantic kind they explore. Instead, they look at all facets of what they call ‘life’s most persistent mystery’ all the way from familial bonds to beloved pets. A gorgeous listen.

Where to start?

We recommend the podcast’s second episode, an unconventional love story that centres on a teen’s encounter with the wild and wonderful while on a swim|This Is Love: Something Large and Wild 



Susan Calman’s Mrs Brightside

Scottish standup and Radio 4 favourite Susan Calman takes a pertinent yet compassionate look at depression, sharing her own experiences with the disease and inviting other comedians to discuss their varied challenges, helping to remove the stigma that persists around mental health. An important and essential listen.

Where to start?

This is one to listen to from the beginning and follow right the way through. In episode one Susan is joined by Edinburgh Award nominated comic Jordan Brookes | Susan Calman’s Mrs Brightside: Jordan Brookes



Table Manners

If you think a food programme wouldn’t work in an audio format, think again. Singer-songwriter Jessie Ware and her mother host Table Manners, a podcast that discusses food and family, all hosted over their dinner table with a variety of well-known guests. Charming and entertaining, a perfect antidote to any grey day.

Where to start? 

Their Best Of… episode should give you a flavour of what to expect. Or, try their conversation with London Mayer Sadiq Khan, who broke his Ramadan fast specifically to join in | Table Manners: Sadiq Khan