We love nothing more than plugging into one of our favourite podcasts as we go about our day. We listen to them while we cook, work or walk around the park; while having a bath or running errands in the car. And during strange times like this, podcasts have been the perfect way to escape, expand our minds and - in many cases - have a good giggle.
If you haven’t already joined the wonderful world of podcasts, you’re in for a treat, as we’ve rounded up the best podcasts of all time. And they're all available to download right now.
In the past couple of years, podcasts have soared in popularity - and everyone seems to have a favourite. If you’re not familiar, they’re essentially pre-recorded radio programmes, which are downloadable on your phone or computer via the Apple Store, Spotify, Google Play and a range of other apps. You might think podcasts are a primarily millennial pastime, but in the past couple of years, the amount and variety of podcasts has been on the rise. Now, there really is something for everyone to enjoy.
We love weekly podcasts that draw on news and current affairs to inform and challenge the way we think. We also love podcasts that tell stories, in a similar way to audiobooks, so we can drift off and escape during a long journey. When we’re pottering around the house, we love tuning in to comedy podcasts, or listening to brilliant interviews with some of our favourite household names. And for long runs or yoga sessions, there are some wonderful wellbeing podcasts to help boost your mood and keep you healthy.
With the podcast apps saturated with options – you’ve got top charts, new and noteworthy sections, and so many different genres – it can be pretty overwhelming, and difficult to know which to lend your ears to first. So, we’ve compiled the very best podcasts to get your teeth (and your headphones) stuck into, whatever you fancy. We've also included some of the Good Housekeeping team's personal recommendations. Simply search them on your favourite podcast app, and away you go...
News and current affairs podcasts
The insightful discussions on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, hosted by Jane Garvey and Emma Barnett (formerly Jenni Murray), are available to download in podcast form. From climate change to parenting, and Brexit to the menopause, this podcast covers it all, with fascinating inputs from experts and journalists.
Ways to Change the World with Krishnan Guru Murthy
Brought to you by Channel 4, this brilliant podcast sees broadcaster Krishnan grill someone who has been in the news about who they are and the causes they stand behind. Ranging from MPs, to journalists, to authors, each interview is insightful, informative, feels distinctly relevant and will likely change any pre-existing opinions you have.
Getting Curious with Jonathan van Ness
The perfect current affairs and comedy hybrid comes from Queer Eye's very own Jonathan van Ness. In each short episode, the hilarious Jonathan interviews an expert about a whole range of topics, from the serious (like slavery) to the fun (like interviewing his Queer Eye co-stars about their lives). Perfect for a quick commute.
Jonathan has also released a book, Over The Top. BUY NOW
The High Low
This hugely popular podcast, the witty, whip-smart journalists Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes deep-dive into the issues of the week, whether that’s the latest political scandal or a hilarious viral meme. Although they've stopped recording the podcasts weekly, the entire backlog is still available to download, and there's plenty in there to enjoy.
Want more of Dolly and Pandora? Dolly's novel, Ghosts, is out now. BUY NOW
And so is Pandora's essay collection, How Do We Know We're Doing It Right? BUY NOW
Gripping storytelling & narrative
Ghislaine Maxwell is the former partner of super-rich disgraced paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while awaiting trial for sex trafficking. After spending a year in hiding, she's now awaiting trial too for her involvement in the crimes. In this engrossing podcast, LBC reporter John Sweeney investigates who Ghislaine was, and how her involvement came to be.
This American Life
The award-winning weekly radio show, which is heard by 2.2 million people on more than 500 stations, is also available to download as a podcast. Hosted by Ira Glass, each episode focuses on a single theme, delivering one long story or several short stories. The themes are varied and wide-ranging; from people who went on missions to save young girls from danger, to a detailed focus on the riots in Hong Kong. The show has been running for almost 20 years so there are plenty of episodes to choose from.
From the creators of This American Life, Serial unfolds one true story over the course of a season. Hosted by Sarah Koenig, the show follows the plot and characters wherever they lead, through many surprising twists and turns – and even Sarah doesn’t know what happens at the end of the story until she gets there.
The Teacher’s Pet
If you’re drawn in by the shocking tales of true crime, like Netflix’s Making a Murderer, then this 2018 podcast series is not to be missed. The Australian podcast investigates the disappearance of mother Lynette Dawson in 1982, uncovering flaws in the criminal investigation with many twists and turns along the way.
Fortunately… with Fi and Jane
Radio favourites and close friends Fi Glover and Jane Garvey go behind the scenes in TV and radio, interviewing guests from across the industry like Richard Madeley and Emma Barnett. Expect jokes, hilariously relatable observations about everyday life, and self-deprecation galore.
Dear Joan and Jericha with Julia Davis and Vicki Pepperdine
In this hilarious podcast, Davis and Pepperdine play spoof agony aunts Joan and Jericha. In each episode, they answer hilarious made-up problems with solutions that are mockingly misogynistic and outrageously filthy. It’s both ridiculous and wickedly clever.
You can also find Joan and Jericha in their new book of the same name. BUY NOW
Sh**ged, Married, Annoyed with Chris and Rosie Ramsey
Strictly star and Geordie comedian Chris Ramsey has turned his hand to podcasting, alongside with his hilarious wife Rosie, who is also an Instagram sensation in her own right. From their kitchen table, the couple bicker and laugh as they chat domestic life, parenting and listeners’ conundrums.
For more Chris and Rosie, why not buy their bestselling book of the same name? BUY NOW
Katherine Ryan: Telling everybody everything
Started during lockdown, comedian extraordinaire Katherine Ryan (of The Duchess and the brilliant stand-up show, Glitter Room on Netflix) talks about anything and everything - from the serious to the light-hearted - with signature whip-smart analysis and hilarious observation.
Mel Giedroyc is Quilting
No, that's not a metaphor - the Bake Off presenter and comedian is actually making a quilt. With the help of presenter friend Andy Bush, she adds to her patchwork quilt with new squares of material donated by friends, famous people and listeners, finding out the stories behind the fabrics, while having a good natter.
The Guilty Feminist
In this live show-cross-podcast, comedian Deborah Frances-White leads a range of guests at the start of each episode to say "I'm a feminist, but..." This kickstarts lively conversation that is both hilarious and affirming.
Deborah also has a bestselling book of the same name. BUY NOW
Unlocking Us with Brené Brown
Join famed Texan researcher, speaker and author Brené Brown (whose TED talk about vulnerability has garnered more than 50 million views) as she shares enlightening conversations from a range of names, including Dolly Parton and even Joe Biden. Launched during 2020, all the conversations highlight the importance of connection in disconnected times.
Brené Brown's 10th anniversary edition of The Gifts of Imperfection is out now. BUY NOW
Hosted by GH's own Ella Dove in conjunction with national charity, The Limbless Association, this podcast aims to raise awareness of all areas surrounding amputation. Through fascinating real life stories and interviews with a range of experts from psychological therapists to physios, it tackles subjects including mental health, body confidence, phantom limb pain and how friends and family react to amputation - and is bound to open your eyes.
Slow-Mo: A podcast with Mo Gawdat
Entrepreneur and author of Solve for Happy Gawdat created an algorithm for happiness, and he's been on a lifelong mission to uncover the secrets of happiness ever since. In this series, he interviews inspirational people, including Holocaust survivor Dr Edith Eger, and journalist and author Elizabeth Day, about the profound questions and obstacles we all face in the pursuit of happiness.
Grounded with Louis Theroux
If anything can get us through lockdown, it's Louis Theroux. While stuck at home, our favourite inquisitive documentary-maker decided to track down some high-profile people for eye-opening (socially distanced) conversations.
Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations
The legendary Oprah Winfrey is known for extracting the most life-changing wisdom from each of her inspirational guests, and nothing encapsulates this skill more than her podcast series. From famous names like Jennifer Lopez and Dwayne Johnson, to wellbeing experts and thought-leaders, each episode is illuminating and invigorating.
How to Fail with Elizabeth Day
Journalist and author Elizabeth Day interviews successful people about the parts of their life that haven’t gone right, ‘because learning how to fail means learning how to succeed better’. Each episode is deeply personal, eye-opening and hugely reassuring. Although she’s interviewed some brilliant people on the podcast, from Vicky McClure to Phoebe Waller-Bridge, our favourite episode is with tech CEO Mo Gawdat who created a formula for happiness after the death of his son. It will truly change the way you think.
Elizabeth also has a bestselling book of the same name. BUY NOW
Desert Island Discs
The legendary Radio 4 show, where ‘castaways’ share the soundtrack of their lives, has been running since 1942 – and the entire archive as well as new episodes, are now available in podcast form. Dig into the back-catalogue for some gems including Stephen Hawking and Simon Cowell, or the more recently brilliant episodes with the likes of Louis Theroux, firefighter Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, hosted by Lauren Laverne.
Table Manners with Jessie Ware
Singer Jessie Ware and her mum Lennie invite stars round for dinner in this relaxed, warm podcast that celebrates all things food. The mother-daughter duo sit down with some brilliant stars including Queer Eye’s Antoni Porowski, Nigella Lawson and Sam Smith, but it’s their charming relationship that really steals the show. It’s so intimate that you’ll feel like they invited you for dinner, too.
Jessie and Lennie have also released their own cookbook, which includes some of the recipes they eat during the podcast. BUY NOW
Sue Perkins: An hour or so with…
This new podcast sees comedian and presenter Sue Perkins sit down with special guests for intimate chats about their lives, including filmmaker Paul Feig and national treasure Mary Berry.
Parenting, family and relationship podcasts
Happy Mum, Happy Baby with Giovanna Fletcher
This podcast hosted by Giovanna Fletcher (who you might know from I'm a Celeb) covers all things motherhood (and fatherhood) with a stellar array of guests, including Rochelle Humes, Nadiya Hussain, Emma Willis and Instagram sensation, Father of Daughters (Simon Hooper). Covering all aspects of parenting from pregnancy to raising teenagers, to less talked-about topics like miscarriage and IVF, each episode is deeply personal and relatable. It will no doubt have you nodding along in agreement the whole way through, and it will remind you that you’re not alone.
Giovanna's latest book, Letters on Motherhood, is out now. BUY NOW
Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel
Join famed relationship therapist for a fly-on-the-wall look inside a couples' therapy room. Listen to the real-life stories of couples with varying issues, and learn valuable insights you can apply to your own life too.
How Did We Get Here?
In this original series from Somethin' Else, Claudia Winkleman and Professor Tanya Byron identify struggles faced by real-life families by inviting them in and hearing their stories in one-time, unscripted sessions. With topics ranging from estrangement, gender identity and trauma, this is an eye-opening and yet oftentimes relatable podcast with clear takeaways you can implement into your own lives.
Health and wellbeing podcasts
On Purpose with Jay Shetty
Who better to talk on themes of wellbeing and purpose than a former monk? Jay Shetty is on a mission to make wisdom go viral, and with his legion of adoring fans, it seems he's fulfilling that aim. His insightful podcasts cover topics from dealing with anxiety to finding joy amongst chaos. And don't we all need a bit of that right now?
Jay Shetty's book, Think Like a Monk, is out now. BUY NOW
The Joe Wicks Podcast
Bright and chirpy Joe Wicks kept us our kids (and us!) active during lockdown, and now he's bringing some sunshine into our ears with this podcast from BBC Sounds. In it, he interviews guests including Jamie Oliver and Jo Malone, about the secrets to their physical and mental happiness.
Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place
This joyful podcast sees Fearne Cotton visit famous faces to find out what makes them happy. The interviews, with stars like Katie Paper, Davina McCall and Russell Brand, are often moving, but will leave you feeling uplifted, allowing you to reflect on the joys in your own life.
For more of Fearne's musings on happiness, why not try her book, Happy? BUY NOW
Feel Better, Live More with Dr Rangan Chatterjee
This podcast will empower you to make great health decisions and transform the way you feel. Dr Chatterjee – a GP with over 16 years’ experience, star of BBC1’s Doctor in the House and bestselling author – speaks to experts about topics from childhood obesity to sleep to mental health.
Why not try Dr Chatterjee's excellent book, Feel Better in Five, is out now. BUY NOW
Dr Chatterjee's upcoming book, Feel Great Lose Weight comes out on 31st December 2020, and is available to pre-order now.
You, Me and the Big C
With the tagline, ‘putting the can in cancer’, this Radio 5 Live podcast hosted by Lauren Mahon and Deborah James is a candid and informative exploration into cancer, which affects so many of us, busting many myths along the way. It’s particularly moving as one of its founding presenters, Rachael Bland, passed away from the disease last year, and her husband Steve is now a regular contributor on the show.
Podcasts for book-lovers
The Sunday Salon
Journalist Alice Azania-Jarvis interviews authors every week about writing, reading and inspiration. From the most exciting debut voices (like Queenie author Candice Carty-Williams) to acclaimed publishing royalty (like Sophie Kinsella and Isabel Allende), each episode is packed with wisdom.
Do you love snooping around people's bookshelves when you go into their houses? Well, so does writer Daisy Buchanan, who decided to make a podcast doing just that. Each week, Daisy asks guests about how the books on their shelves have shaped who they are. Guests include Jenny Eclair and David Nicholls.
Daisy Buchanan's first novel, Insatiable, comes out on 11th February 2021, and is available to pre-order now.
Women's Prize for Fiction Podcast
If you wait to find out the Women's Prize for Fiction winner with eager anticipation (like we do), then you'll love this podcast that celebrates the very best in female-written fiction. Every fortnight, VICE editor Zing Tsjeng invites inspirational guests to explore the back-catalogue of the Women's Prize-winning books.
And the Good Housekeeping team's favourites...
How Do You Cope
"John Robins and Elis James inject wit and wisdom as they interview a range of guests to explore mental health, hurdles and challenges. Must-listen episodes include actress Sally Phillips on life with her son who has Down’s Syndrome and doctor turned performer/writer, Adam Kay on the psychological scars he bears from his time working for the NHS. The perfect blend of thought provoking and funny." - Ella Dove, Commissioning Editor
Ctrl Alt Delete with Emma Gannon
"The author and journalist interviews savvy people about their careers - from Gillian Anderson to Mrs Hinch - and they're always so insightful." - Ciara McGinley, Acting Senior Digital Writer
You Must Remember This
"An incredibly well researched podcast about the history of Hollywood focusing each episode on a different, often forgotten story about actors and movie producers who worked there." - Simon Swift, Executive Editor (Digital)
How Did This Get Made?
"You know when people say a film is so bad it’s good? Well, if guilty pleasures are your bag, check out the podcast How Did This Get Made?. In each episode, US comedians Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas and June Diane Raphael sit around together, watch some really terrible films and review them for you (through fits of laughter). They cover all sorts of B-movies, straight-to-video flicks and films you have most definitely never heard of including Jaws 3D, Look Who’s Talking Now and Mannequin Two: On The Move (no, me neither). Wanna dip your toe in? I implore you to go right back to the beginning and listen to their first ever review of the Cher/Christina Aguilera film Burlesque – if you haven’t already seen the movie, you’ll want to once you’ve heard them tear it to shreds." - Terry Barbrook, Executive Editor
The Girlfriends Podcast
"We might be biased because we host this topical podcast, but we think a podcast that explores the big topic of friendship - from how to make new friends, to how to be a good friend - is a great one!" - Arielle Tchiprout and Anna Bonet, Features Writers
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