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Podcast Reviews

Opinion: The Rest is Football

The first two episodes are up, so how's The Rest is Football sounding?

6:21 PM GMT+1 on August 10, 2023

    Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Micah Richards talking about football. A significant chunk of the nation watches exactly that most Saturday nights during the football season on Match of The Day on BBC1.

    So it should be a no-brainer for the these three eloquent former players and super-pundits (or presenter in the case of Gary) to make their own podcast – and one that’s freed (to some extent) from the shackles of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines.

    And so it does a similar thing to the telly version really well: talking about the big football issues of the moment. The start of the most recent episode covers the Lionesses’ World Cup win on penalties against Nigeria. Which of course included that petulant “moment” from Lauren James that had her sent off. Alan was able to give his personal experience of being in an England team at a World Cup when a similar incident occurred: David Beckham’s kick against Argentina’s Diego Simeone. Gary, Alan and Micah can of course all draw on their penalty taking experience – and it’s really engaging. That stuff is great.

    The overall format on episode two is a listener Q&A, imported from sister podcast The Rest is Politics with Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart. It's also to add on the end of regular show recording. Now, I’m a big fan of that pod – and I think the format works really well when it’s about current topics.

    Where I think the podcast loses its way is with the less current and more obscure questions. That’s when it all starts to sound less engaging – and I have to admit, I struggle to stay interested.

    Episode one of The Rest if Football covered “season preview” topics such as whether anyone can beat Manchester City and the (since confirmed) transfer speculation around Harry Kane. Gary (and co)’s experiences of what it’s like to be the subject of high-profile transfers works well.

    But there’s also another glaring problem that I desperately hope they’re fixing. Aside from the aforementioned “current” bit at the top of the second episode (which was in the audio equivalent of glorious technicolour), the audio quality is absolutely dreadful.

    My guess is they did one big initial record, primarily for YouTube, and most of that content was spread across the first two episodes.

    When you’re launching a high-profile podcast, that’s simply not good enough. It’s not that difficult to have an audio engineer and proper microphones all the time. Podcasting is special and they need to be careful on not being distracted by how it looks for a good social clip. That and keeping the content focused on staying current.

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