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Scott’s Pick of the Year (Part 2)

More great picks of the year from the Great British Podcasts Editor.

10:30 AM GMT on December 31, 2023

    Welcome to the second of a festive two parter where I list my favourite audio of 2023. And it has been a bumper year as well, with a great range of everything from audio to entertainment.

    You can check out the first part here.

    The Best Podcasts of 2023 (Part Two)

    The Rest is Entertainment - This show explores and reacts to the world of entertainment. Hosted by The Guardian’s Marina Hyde and quiz genius Richard Osman the show is fresh, confident and hugely engrossing, despite being only literally weeks old. 

    Part of its charm is not just the chemistry between the presenters, but also their insider knowledge about the entertainment industry and the executive and business decisions that drive it. 

    Get Birding - A wonderful series that highlights the joy of paying attention to birds and nature around us, hosted by Kwesia (aka City Girl in Nature).

    The series is accessible to newbies whilst feeling immersive and rich. It also skillfully talks about the joy of birdwatching via the medium of podcasting, which is entirely audio. There’s great production and tender care with each episode.

    Side Tracked with Annie and Nick - For anyone who listened to Radio 1 in the noughties, this podcast has been a delight as it reunites Nick Grimshaw and Annie Mac together again. The premise of the podcast is to discuss music, but the flow of conversation is such a delight you wouldn’t be at all fussed if the podcast was about socks or tax returns or dishwasher tablets.

    Sherlock & Co - A fabulous take on the works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Written by Joel Emery, Sherlock’s stories have been reimagined as true crime series cobbled together by John Watson. With sharp production and perfectly pitched performances, it feels fresh despite being a reworking of a classic.

    How to Win An Election - Who knows when exactly the next election will be, but it has to take place no later than Tuesday 28 January 2025. 

    For when it (finally) does you can rely on this insightful political programme for politics wonks featuring three political heavyweights: Daniel Finklestein (former Conservative political advisor), Polly Mackenzie (who worked for Nick Clegg in the noughties) and Peter Mandelson (who was at the heart of New Labour.) There’s wit and interesting questions from the broadcaster Matt Chorley. 

    The Island of Brilliant - Frank Cottrell Boyce, who worked alongside Danny Boyle for the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, is alongside the celebrated children’s author Nadia Shireen for a podcast celebrating children’s fiction.

    The podcast has become a must listen for anyone wanting to get into writing children’s books, or are just interested in what children are currently loving.

    Empire - At a time when the British Empire has been so fiercely debated, this series by experts William Dalrymple and Anita Anand delve into how Empires have shaped the world that we live in today. A highlight is how each episode tells you a lot that you have never been taught before. 

    White Smoke: America’s Chemsex Killer  - A powerful and necessary investigation by the iNews Special Correspondent Patrick Strudwick, looking into two mysterious deaths that took place at the same location, 18 months apart.

    As well as looking into the lack of justice surrounding these deaths, it also tenderly explores the issues of chemsex, where people have sex whilst under the influence of drugs. This podcast is available on Audible, which means that it is only available for subscribers, but will not use any of your existing credits.

    Joanna Lumley & The Maestro - Who doesn’t love a podcast where you get to hear Joanna Lumley for half an hour a week? 

    This series explores the world of classical music with Lumley and her husband Stephen Barlow, a renowned conductor and musician. It’s an accessible listen, as Lumley asks the question you would do as the listener.

    Pod Save the UK - We've not been short on political podcasts this year with new shows like Politics at Jack and Sam's, Political Currency and The Two Matt's. 

    Nish Kumar and Coco Khan's Pod Save the UK has hit the ground running though, mixing progressive politics, a broad range of guests and off-topic fun like Eurovision conspiracy theories and the right way to sit down. 

    Where Are You Going? - Sometimes the simplest idea for a podcast can be the most compelling. In this series Catherine Carr asks a stranger where they are going and what they are doing next. It’s a surprisingly interesting and at times poignant exploration into the lives of others.

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