Elizabeth Day returns with a show for friends in need

Best podcasts of the week

The How to Fail host teams up with best friend and therapist Emma Reed-Turrell to dissect their – and our – life challenges. Plus: five of the best podcasts about women

Thu 31 Mar 2022 09.45 BST

Picks of the week

Best Friend Therapy
Widely available, episodes weekly
Elizabeth Day follows her wildly successful podcast How to Fail with a similarly self help-focused offering featuring her best friend of 20 years, psychotherapist Emma Reed-Turrell. The pair join forces to tackle the emotional challenges we face in our everyday lives, drawing on the details of their relationship in the process. The first episode is on boundaries: why we need them, how to set them, and how they can better us. Ammar Kalia

Spotify, episodes weekly
This half hour-ish pod takes a different occult topic each week and puts it at the heart of banter-packed hot takes from the hosts of comedy true crime podcast And That’s Why We Drink. What discussions on the supposed existence of weather witches lack in exhaustive historical research, they more than make up for in laughs. Alexi Duggins

The history of the Act Up movement is explored in Fiasco: The Aids Crisis. Photograph: Mikki Ansin/Getty Images

Fiasco: The Aids Crisis
Audible, episodes weekly

Slow Burn’s Leon Neyfakh hosts this eight-episode podcast tracking the history of the Aids epidemic in the US. There are archive interviews with witnesses, including activists who railed against being labelled “victims” as prejudice increased. Neyfakh centres them in his thought-provoking history. Hannah Verdier

Classical Dreams
Global Player, all episodes available

This sleep podcast from Classic FM is part bedtime story, part meditation exercise, and part opportunity to hear Myleene Klass perform enthusiastically calming narration. There’s a surprising lack of music, but Classic FM presenters including Alexander Armstrong describing exotic locales make this a calming (if slightly odd) pre-bedtime listen. AD

Curious State
Widely available, episodes weekly

There’s nothing like the soft, reassuring voice of an NPR host to make you feel more intelligent, so Doug Fraser is perfect to reveal whether you could domesticate a T rex or if celebrities are more interesting than civilians. Particularly useful is his interview with therapist Lori Gottlieb on overcoming tricky childhoods. HV

Reader’s choice

Last week we spotlighted five of the best bite-sized podcasts, and asked for your favourites. Here is one from reader Miles Smith:

The Moth is an amazing storytelling radio show/podcast – you never know what you’re going to get in each short episode, whether it’s a cringe-inducing memory of a childhood crush, a candid coming out story, or a devastating story about a young man in a coma. It’s truly special and the archive is huge.

There’s a podcast for that

Aretha Franklin, one of the subjects of the Black Girl Songbook podcast. Photograph: David Redfern/Redferns

This week, journalist and host of The Last Bohemians Kate Hutchinson chooses five of the best podcasts about women, from a show about medical mysteries to a stereotype-busting series on South Asian women

Black Girl Songbook
Journalist Danyel Smith returns this month with the third season of her podcast on black womens’ huge contribution to popular music. Combining music and chat, Smith has the tunes on hand to show listeners what exactly makes Brandy’s voice so special, to explain the complicated history of blue-eyed soul via Teena Marie and Adele, and to deliver a properly in-depth analysis of Rihanna as we all wait, and wait, and wait for her next album. Season three celebrates Aretha Franklin on what would have been her 80th birthday, as well as disco queen Donna Summer, the era-defining soundtrack for Waiting To Exhale, and soul legend Deniece Williams.

Allison Behringer’s groundbreaking series bills itself as a “feminist documentary podcast” and, has, since 2018, followed women and gender non-conforming people as they unravel the onion of their varying medical mysteries. Many of the ailments featured are ones you only hear whispered about by the work loos, from the menopause and fibroids to babies that won’t eat. Others are less talked about still (think painful sex and uncontrollable orgasms). It’s a masterstroke in sensitive storytelling, and of spotlighting medical ignorance, and has also broadened out into shocking wider stories – such as a recent episode about a school built on oozing, contaminated land.

Literary Friction
Now that Call Your Girlfriend has come to a close and The High Low is long gone, there’s a gaping hole for a British chatty women-on-culture podcast. Enter friends Carrie Plitt and writer Octavia Bright, whose longrunning literary pod – also a monthly show on NTS Radio, straight outta Dalston, east London – may just be your new favourite. Their guestlist is a who’s who of must-read authors, including Maggie Nelson, Raven Leilani, Deborah Levy, Carmen Maria Machado and, yes, Sally Rooney (twice). But their warm patter and the fascinating twists and turns of their conversations elevate it beyond being merely an insidery book club.

Call Me Mother
In this podcast – told largely in dreamy, largely first-person format – queer elders tell Shon Faye, author of The Transgender Issue, about being trailblazers and their journeys in gender, with little interjection. The curation here is excellent; while it doesn’t exclusively feature women and non-binary speakers, there are key episodes with people like Kate Bornstein, a septugenarian transgender activist, theorist and performance artist who talks about their “gender quandary”, from the pre-Stonewall days, through joining Scientology and the cocaine 80s. Their touching interview is a testament to the thrilling, knotty joy of life.

Masala Podcast
Sangeeta Pillai’s award-winning Masala Podcast has grown from indie production to Spotify Original, and is as vibrant and plucky as ever as it airs cultural taboos and speaks to South Asian women about everything “they’re not supposed to”. Those blue topics include coming out aged 50, ending female genital mutilation, feminism, menopause, mental health, “nipple hair”, and whether the Kama Sutra is still relevant. Series one to three are available now, with series four available from 16 April and featuring guests including US comedian Zarna Garg and writer and mental health advocate Poorna Bell.

The Last Bohemians series three with painter Maggi Hambling, blues musician Dana Gillespie and actor Cleo Sylvestre is out now at www.thelastbohemians.co.uk

Why not try …

  • Oprahdemics, a deep dive into the cultural impact of The Oprah Winfrey Show

  • Stories of major life changes in Totally Fine with Tiffany Philippou, featuring tales of HIV diagnosis, job loss and more

  • The latest instalment of sound-themed pod Twenty Thousand Hertz, on the people behind some of the most famous announcements in the world – those heard on the Tube in London, and the New York Subway

If you want to read the complete version of the newsletter please subscribe to receive Hear Here in your inbox every Thursday












We will be in touch to remind you to contribute. Look out for a message in your inbox in . If you have any questions about contributing, please contact us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *