I’d never taken the time to get into podcasts before this year, but since moving our little boy into what used to be my insomnia escape den (the old spare room, now his bedroom), I am increasingly relying on them to fill the wakeful void without disturbing my partner by switching the light on to read. Well, I generally don’t allow my podcast listening to disturb him, except perhaps for the time I let out a loud guffaw while listening the ‘Mr Happy’ Confession – see below. I also find them a great way to distract my whirling brain for enough time to make it possible to drop off during stressful times. I’ve found BBC online to be a great starting place for my voyage of podcast discovery, so here are my top ten BBC podcasts. Or rather, top nine and one that I’d advise you not to bother with…
1) Fortunately … with Fi and Jane. Released on Fridays.
I stumbled across this one and Friday nights have become about more than erasing the week with one too many wines. What Fi Glover and Jane Garvey are supposed to be doing is reviewing the highlights and low moments of that week’s radio output. What they actually do is have an effortlessly humorous natter peppered with the odd snipe at the inner workings of the BBC. Very strong.
2) Seriously. . . Released on Fridays.
One for the curious, Seriously features different presenters exploring a phenomenon, slice of cultural history or the story behind a familiar place. It’s proper mind improving stuff. Which is why it’s a shame that I usually drop off before my mind has had the chance to be improved.
3) Desert Island Discs. Released on Sundays.
I’ve blogged about this one before. It doesn’t matter if I’ve heard of the person or not, I always find people’s life stories worth listening to. If you’re hoping to drop off though, make sure it’s someone whose life story you couldn’t give a toss about.
4) Test Match Special. Released, erm, whenever the cricket’s on? I don’t know!
I have absolutely no interest in cricket. I find it slightly hideous that 22 grown adults can spend three days solid hitting a small ball and running slowly between a few sticks of wood. But cricket has its uses: when people start talking about it, I switch off. So at about four in the morning when things are getting desperate, it’s always good to have this one in the bag.
5) Simon Mayo’s Confessions. Released on Fridays.
Yes, some of them are a bit lame, but when they’re funny they are belly-laugh inducing. This great podcast helpfully fills in the gaps I miss during the week due to the live broadcast generally coinciding with negotiations about how many episodes of Teletubbies my toddler can watch before bath time.
6) Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review. Released on Fridays.
You may be thinking that I’m slightly obsessed with Simon Mayo. I’m not. But I have to admit the man does a good podcast. I hardly ever go to the cinema any more, but I still enjoy listening to these two gabble at each other. I rarely make it through the whole two hours, but what I hear is always entertaining and, one day, when I have more time to devote to my local cinema, I’m sure I’ll live by their recommendations.
7) Woman’s Hour. Released daily.
I occasionally listen to this one if there’s a topic that particularly grabs my interest. Otherwise, it does run the risk of getting me a bit too worked up about THE MANY INJUSTICES DEALT OUT BY THE PATRIARCHY to allow me to properly relax before sleep. Aaaand breathe out.
8) David Baddiel Tries to Understand. Released on Wednesdays.
Aaah,public service broadcasting at its best. I’ve only listened to a couple of these, but I’m hooked. I now know who the Kardashians are and why they are famous. I’ve also heard some posh blokes try to describe the rules of rugby. All stuff that’s vital for getting on in modern life. Also, at around 15 minutes per episode I can just about stay awake for the whole thing.
9) More or Less: Behind the Stats. Released on Mondays.
This one fits in the same box as TMS (as I believe it is fondly known) the premise being that as I have no capability or basic knowledge of statistics, it should serve as the perfect soundtrack for my descent into slumber. Although I think I should really try to stay awake one night as they deal with some pretty hefty stuff – Trump’s misuse of the numbers, how to measure a hurricane and why dress sizes are so weird being just three recent examples.
10) Strictly Come Dancing Official podcast. Released on Sundays.
I’m as much of a Strictly fan as the next person. But really, do we need a Strictly podcast? The TV coverage takes up a significant proportion of the winter broadcast schedules. I already watch it on a slight delay so I can fast forward through all the cringeworthy guff of the ‘celebrities’ prancing about in odd locations. I don’t feel the need to listen to another 40 minutes hearing about people’s ‘Strictly journey’. I’m afraid this one won’t make through to week two.
You can discover the world of BBC podcasts here.
Which other podcasts can you recommend for the sleepless hours? I’d love to read your comments below.
Thanks for reading.