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Scott’s Pick of the Year (Part 1)

Some of our favourite shows of the year

4:54 PM GMT on December 23, 2023

    Welcome to the first of a festive two parter where I list my favourite audio of 2023. And what a year it has been - a year of great conversation, compelling storytelling and entertaining drama and comedy.

    And that’s not all. There is a lot more compelling audio here on Podcast Rex. The team were asked to come up with their favourite shows of the year, including the TV podcast They Like To Watch, the bizarre Hooked on Freddie and the compelling and thought provoking series A Positive Light: HIV from Terrence Higgins to Today.

    My Best Podcasts of 2023 (Part One)

    Help I Sexted My Boss - William Hanson and Jordan North’s podcast where they attempt to solve our etiquette dilemmas have been running for the past five years, but this is a year that has really come onto its own. 

    The chemistry between them both (and Producer Ben’s laugh) has made each episode feel like a genuine delight. The podcast has also had a surge in popularity thanks to them reacting to a series of hilarious and completely not suitable for younger listeners rude dilemmas

    Movers and Shakers: a podcast about life with Parkinson’s - Six well known friends talking about the reality of living with Parkinson’s. The friends are the former BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, the journalist Jeremy Paxman, the lecturer Gillian Lacey-Solymar and the writer Paul Mayhew-Archer, journalist Mark Mardell and the judge Sir Nicholas Mostyn.

    The conversations are honest and engaging, mixed in with honesty and wit. It reflects the very best of podcasting, connecting people who are also experiencing the same issue or are a loved one of someone who is.

    A Very British Cult - Catrin Nye investigates a mysterious life coaching and mentoring scheme that a tip off tells her is actually a cult, a cult that controls every aspect of their life from their finances to their family relationships. 

    It’s a story of twists and turns, but also delves into the psychology of how cults work and operate. The chances of being caught up in one are far more likely than you first expect.

    McCartney: A Life in Lyrics - Part masterclass part memoir, this series looks at the history behind some of The Beatles’ most well known tracks from conversations with Sir Paul McCartney. Each episode delves into the story of a well-known track, from Eleanor Rigby to Blackbird.

    The conversations you hear in this podcast were never meant to be broadcast, but were conducted for a book by the poet Paul Muldoon. 

    There Are No Greater Heroes - A lovely little music documentary looking into a band called Tony, Caro & John.

    A hippy little trio who released a cult album in the 1970s, this five parter follows the remarkable story of their return and a performance four decades later. Sam Tyler tells their story with such heart.

    The Rise and Fall of Britpop - Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley provide a nostalgia fest with this engaging lookback at the dramatic rise and equally dramatic fall of Britpop music, featuring a treasure trove of archive performances and interviews.

    Yep, the Oasis vs Blur rivalry is picked apart. There’s also a look at the dark side, such as how the rise of lads mags and tabloid culture created a wave of misogyny and sexism.

    The Sound: Mystery of Havana Syndrome - A strange and compelling investigation by Nicky Woolf looking into a mysterious illness that causes nausea, memory issues and most bizarrely, a grinding sound that only they can hear.

    Since 2016 there have reportedly been 1000 cases of Havana syndrome, but what causes it? Is it not an illness, but a weapon? Woolf quickly finds himself thrown into a cryptic world of secrets and intelligence.

    Different with Nicky Campbell - A fascinating interview series by the broadcaster Nicky Campbell, who speaks to someone who we may not usually cross paths with in our day-to-day lives. Such people involve a woman who was born and raised in a cult, a son who is living with the knowledge that his father had planned an act of terrorism and a forensic psychiatrist who worked at Broadmoor. Campbell is a great listener and asks guests thoughtful questions, and he never rushes to judgement with the people he speaks to.

    Persevering: Grief as Told by Young People - Podcasts are great at connecting people who have been through difficult events. This series by the charity Let’s Talk About Loss brings together stories of people who have experienced grief at a young age, tapping into topics such as dealing with sudden loss and returning to school or work. 

    Where's Home Really - Hosted by journalist and Masterchef judge Jimi Famurewa, Where's Home Really talks to famous faces from different backgrounds and explores the concept of 'home'.

    Theres's some great guests including Monica Galetti, Nadiya Hussain, Babatunde Aleshe and Nish Kumar all talking about a person, a phrase, a place and a plate that best represents what home means to them.

    Waterlands - The final podcast recommendation is this series that helps bring the outside in. Brought to you by the Wildfowl and Wetlands trust and hosted by Megan McCubbin, you’ll learn about the ecosystem of the humble pond. In turn the series becomes a necessary and rallying cry of why they need to be protected.

    Part 2 will be in the Great British Podcasts Newsletter next week, sign up below...

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