Culture

14 unmissable podcasts to uplift, entertain and inspire you

From politics to literature, music to fashion, the best podcasts of the moment are moving, witty and insightful – often all at once. These are some of the best to stream now

Lifestyle

Incredible Women: The New Guard

In the third season of NET-A-PORTER’s Incredible Women podcast, fashion director Kay Barron sits down with the new generation of trailblazing women rising to the top of their fields thanks to their immense talent, plus a determination to shape a better, brighter future. The inspiring line-up includes pop maverick Charli XCX, model and singer-songwriter Yumi Nu, and social media sensation Elsa Majimbo.

Incredible Women: Changemakers

Griefcast

Comedy and grief don’t often appear in the same sentence, but that is the premise behind Cariad Lloyd’s award-winning podcast, which explores the multifaceted human experiences of death through interviews with comedians so, in Lloyd’s words, “it’s cheerier than it sounds”. In each episode, a different guest – including Aisling Bea, Susan Wokoma and Robert Webb – shares their own stories and thoughts around grief and loss.

Griefcast

Gurls Talk

Model and mental-health advocate Adwoa Aboah brings the Gurls Talk space for candid conversation to the podcast sphere, where she interviews a phenomenal array of guests about their life and work, including rapper Little Simz, singer Rosalía, founder of Everyone’s Invited Soma Sara, and author Lisa Taddeo.

Gurls Talk

Call Me Mother

In this series, journalist and author Shon Faye welcomes barrier-breaking figures from the LGBTQ+ community to reflect on being queer in the world today. Providing a platform for the younger generation to connect with a wider history, and to learn from the experiences of their elders, Faye invites these pioneers to discuss their inspiring activism and valuable life stories.

Call Me Mother

You’re Wrong About

In this series, hosted by journalist Michael Hobbes and writer Sarah Marshall, each episode revisits a major event or person from recent history, cleverly correcting the conspiracies and debunking the myths that surround them. From the Stonewall uprising to the likes of Marie Antoinette and Diana, Princess of Wales, it sets right the consequences of media storms, public prejudices and vast misconceptions.

You’re Wrong About

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day

Author and journalist Elizabeth Day’s compelling series on failure features guests such as Gina Miller and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. By asking speakers to reveal and dissect three seminal failures in their lives, Day provides a fascinating insight into their psyches and proves that every path comes with its own pitfalls.

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day

Death, Sex & Money

This bi-weekly podcast series, presented by journalist Anna Sale, deals with uncomfortable topics that are often shied away from. It serves as a great reminder that we’re not alone in this world and that many people have the same questions about life.

Death, Sex & Money

Call Your Girlfriend

Gaining even greater relevance in the wake of 2020, this is a podcast about bringing long-distance best friends together. In each episode, real-life friends Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman call each other to talk everything from pop culture to politics.

Call Your Girlfriend

Where Should We Begin?

Described as ‘free therapy’, this podcast sees Belgian psychotherapist Esther Perel peel back the lid on the human experience of relationships. One recent episode deals with a couple in lockdown in Italy, navigating relationship issues and confinement in the midst of the pandemic. Hearing about other people’s sex lives could easily make you feel voyeuristic, but with Perel’s transparency and honesty, it seems normal and informative.

Where Should We Begin?

About Race

Reni Eddo-Lodge, author of the bestselling Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, recorded this podcast back in 2018, to examine crucial topics around anti-racist activism – from media representation to the intersectionality of feminism. In each episode, Eddo-Lodge invited key voices from the recent history of the movement to expand the conversation. With the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, both her book and the podcast gained even greater prominence and a larger audience.

About Race

Modern Love

This is the companion podcast to The New York Times’ series of personal essays in which people describe every iteration of love and all kinds of intimate relationships, from first kisses to unlikely friendships and experiences of parenthood. Host Meghna Chakrabarti has the likes of Sarah Paulson, Sandra Oh, Awkwafina and Saoirse Ronan read these stories aloud. It’s just as wonderful (and as tear-jerking) as it sounds.

Modern Love

TED Radio Hour

How do we build more trusting and empathetic relationships, even during a crisis? Can aging be halted? Is there a formula for falling in love? These are just a few of the universal questions that have been posed to date in this weekly 50-minute podcast, which features excerpts from TED Talks and candid interviews with the speakers as they explore the biggest questions of our time with the help of the world’s greatest thinkers. The answers will astonish and astound.

TED Radio Hour

Desert Island Discs

Music is a memory trigger, which is why this show works so well. Notable figures choose eight songs and travel through their own pasts, uncovering events and feelings that have marked significant moments. Superbly prompted by host Kirsty Young, and then more recently Lauren Laverne, prominent people open up about their lives and their musings, interspersed with their chosen tracks.

Desert Island Discs

Table Manners

Singer Jessie Ware might be used to the spotlight, but in this weekly podcast, it’s somewhat stolen by Lennie, her hilarious co-host mother. Table Manners sees the duo host guests as varied as Raymond Blanc and Neneh Cherry for a hearty home-cooked meal at Jessie’s east London home – tune in for conversation that’s as moreish as the menu.

Table Manners

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