The 50 best podcasts of 2018

From Julia Davies dark comedy Dear Joan to track by track teardown Dissect, Marc Maron to Meat and beyond, here are this years finest audio offerings

2 Dope Queens
Comedy panel hit

Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams’s podcast is a perfect cyclone of slapstick and representation, with the two US comedians hanging out with their mostly female, often non-white and LGBT guests to chat” race, gender, sexuality, and other less serious topics “. Recorded in front of a live audience, Dope Queens isn’t a low-key affair, and all the better for it. Interview-based offshoot Sooo Many White Guys – produced by Broad City’s Ilana Glazer – is equally engaging. HJD
If you like this try Another Round, Late Night Whenever

The Adam Buxton Podcast
Freewheeling interviews

Buxton’s open-ended” ramble chats” are a delight, with Bob Mortimer, Aisling Bea and even Wes Anderson among those ricochetting off his observational genius. There are moments when it gets hysterical, and one of the finest involves Louis Theroux breaking out a falsetto version of Yes Sir, I Can Boogie that goes on only long enough to make it eye-wateringly funny. HV
If you like this try Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast

All Killa No Filla
Sideways serial killer pod

Rachel
Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard-McLean.

If true crime is the food of podcasts, comedians Rachel Fairburn and Kiri Pritchard-McLean are your mild-mannered chefs cracking gags as they work. They claim they’re not taunting serial killers; they’re simply obsessed with them. Discussing how Ted Bundy merely needs one name” like Britney or Madonna” suggests otherwise, and the pair’s understated witticisms means they just about get away with the grim jokes. HV
If you like this try
A Very Fatal Murder

Athletico Mince
Surreal, sport-themed ruminations

If you’re more concerned with the state of Steve McClaren’s hair than Soccer AM, this is the football podcast for you. Bob Mortimer and Andy Dawson are the anti-Carragher and Neville, bringing surreal fun to the athletic. You might find Harry Kane opposing over celery or Peter Beardsley impression sorry for himself, but you’ll rarely hear the final score. HV
If you like this try The Football Ramble

Atlanta Monster
Complex true crime

Payne Lindsey had a huge hit with Up and Vanished, his podcasting debut, in which he examined the disappearance of a former beauty queen. Lindsey struck journalistic gold when his DIY sleuthing turfed-up two fresh apprehends. For the follow-up, he investigates a spate of 28 slayings of black children in Atlanta. This time, race and City Hall politics loom far larger than a simple whodunnit. GH
If you like this try Dirty John, West Cork

Brian Gittins and Friends
Erratic conversations with comics

David Earl, the genius behind anti-comic Brian Gittins, has long been a pioneer of leftfield audio displays. Comparatively, this is more slick, bring back guests to interact with him and his friend David Edwards and robot Charles. The fictional put changes each episode, from the Hacienda in the 90 s to a hot-air balloon, inviting the best/ most game members of the modern alternative comedy scene- Jamie and Natasia Demetriou, Lolly Adefope, Diane Morgan, Kim Noble and Tim Key- to play. HG
If you like this try Comedy Bang! Bang !

The Butterfly Effect With Jon Ronson

Exploring the murky world of modern porn
Ronson’s intimate exposure of the porn industry is more interested in search terms and algorithms than titillation, which is where its charm lies. Your host remains quietly curious as he listens to narratives of how German tech opportunist Fabian Thylmann built up his online empire, but how tough it is a matter of today’s actors. HV
If you like this try The Moth

Caliphate
Terrorist doc

Caliphate
Caliphate Podcast.

Or: Cribs- Isis Edition, in which the New York Times’s terrorism correspondent, Rukmini Callimachi, reports back on her the amount of time spent rifling through abandoned Islamic State barracks, leafing through their HR records and diaries to piece together the human face within the inky darkness. Having raised the bar with The Daily, NYT is keen to show us just how cinematic their sound design can get with this Hans Zimmer-level dazzler. GH
If you like this try
Slow Burn

Capital
Brexit-style satire

This semi-improvised narrative podcast is about the panic and bureaucracy in the UK after a vote to induce executing legal has been induced. In a Thick of It-style story that’s got more than a touch of Brexit chaos to it, Harry Enfield plays an inept capital punishment minister, and there’s a cameo from newsreader Jon Snow. However, it’s Fresh Meat’s Charlotte Ritchie and Liam Williams( of BBC3′ s Pls Like) who steal the present as warring, ineffectual civil servant. HJD
If you like this try This Sounds Serious

Cocaine& Rhinestones
Country tales

Tyler
Tyler Mahan Coe.

Tyler Mahan Coe’s history of country music lives up to its glamorously scandalous title, bringing out the backstories of both high-profile figures and lesser-known names. From the reason why Loretta Lynn’s songs were banned and Wynonna Judd’s life story to a three-parter based around those involved in the record Harper Valley PTA, each episode has more sagas than a country song, inducing it a gripping listen. HV
If you like this try
Disgraceland

The Comedian’s Comedian
Comics get in-depth

Stuart Goldsmith’s interview podcast considers top billing comedians give insights into how they bring out the laughs, whether it’s Katherine Ryan demonstrating her” benevolent roasted” or Shappi Khorsandi pinpointing her need to perform with a ranting about her childhood. HV
If you like this try The Two Shot Podcast

Dear Joan and Jericha
Fictional agony aunts

Julia Davis and Vicky Pepperdine’s podcast is offensiveness disguised as polite conversation. Playing a pair of seemingly respectable agony aunts, their audience’s questions solicit filthy answers, dressed up as the kind of advice that comes from women in buttoned-up cardigans. From a lustful description of a stepson to a creaking tirade against “geriatric” moms, it’s perfectly delivered gold that’s hilarious all the way through. HV
If you like this try Why Is Your Bottom So Dirty?

Dissect
Musical academia

Host Cole Cuchna recorded his track-by-track albums teardown by night, in his garage, while holding down a full-time job. It’s a feeling that still bleeds into his third season, on Frank Ocean’s Blonde: an uber-nerd, juiced on passion, blasting out genius-level Rap Genius footnotes. GH
If you like this try In Sight Out

Do the Right Thing
Riotous quiz

Award-winning moral panel show that asks the issues to: what would you do in a catastrophe? Led by Danielle Ward and a revolving casting including Sara Pascoe and Nish Kumar, the debate ranges from the righteous to the ridiculous. HG
If you like this try Throwing Shade

Elis James and John Robins podcast
Pub chat in podcast form

There’s more to Radio X than Blossoms. This podcast follows a mighty lineage of comic-led indicates from the station( Adam and Joe, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, Russell Brand) but James and Robins give the setup a tenderness and emotionally unstable slant. Regular features like Humble Brag of the Week sit sweetly next to Robins’s sweaty-palmed preoccupation with Queen/ Zappa. HG
If you like this try Elis James’ Feast of Football

Gossip
Sex and the City for audio

Allison Raskin has cooked up a smart soap opera of a podcast centred on all the juicy( scripted) rumor that goes down in a coffee shop. Along with standard news about whose husband’s cheating the coming week, there’s a hint of something more sinister going on in the US suburb of Golden Acre. Funny, quick-witted and perfect for a commute. HV
If you like this try Homecoming

Griefcast

How to deal with loss

Cariad Lloyd’s award-winning podcast about demise is touching and, from time to time, downright hilarious, with guests including Sara Pascoe, Adam Buxton and David Baddiel. The death of Lloyd’s own father at an early age shapes her sensitive questioning with a knowledge of knowing when it’s OK to make a gag. In Baddiel’s case, dark laughs stem from the absurd fallout of his mum’s affair with a golfing memorabilia salesman. HV
If you like this try Made of Human

The Guilty Feminist
Instersectional panel show

Deborah
Deborah Frances White.

It can be pretty difficult to know what constitutes being an upstanding feminist these days, a known fact that resulted Deborah Frances-White to create this much-loved podcast. Covering themes from menstruation and exercise to ethical apparel, she and her guests explore the contradictions and limitations of modern feminism in a way that never feels overly heavy. Plus, there’s a diverse pool of guests; recent interviewees have included FGM activist Leyla Hussein and actor Gemma Arterton. HJD
If you like this try
Scummy Mummies, Unladylike

Hannibal Buress Handsome Rambler
Leftfield interviews

While its interview format seems traditional upfront, the chats are freestyle, and often scored with whirring synths and drums. His encounter with musician Lizzo brings the improv chaos of The Eric Andre Show to audio, while snagging period with the likes of Tiffany Haddish, Run the Jewels and Chris Rock is impressive, especially since Buress is often very high. HG
If you like this try New Year’s Eve With Neil Hamburger

Hey, Cool Job !
Occupational inspiration

With portfolio careers and freelancing ever more du jour , this podcast from US writer Mary HK Choi feels highly relevant. She interviews everyone from a music A& R to a porn star to a paparazzo about the hard graft that’s got them to where they are. HJD
If you like this try How I Construct This, Wanna Be

Hip Hop Saved My Life

Romesh Ranganathan’s rap academia
A melodramatic title for a comic known for his lethargic delivery, but this podcast drills into the genre’s impact on its guests’ lives, from Loyle Carner to Chali 2na, Doc Brown and starring of Asian Provocateur, Shanthi Ranganathan( Romesh’s mum) teasing out coming-of-age memories and present day psychoanalysing. Start with Frankie Boyle’s episode and his conspiracy hypothesi about Biggie and 2Pac. HG
If you like this try Questlove Supreme

Hit Parade
Examining pop

Chart analyst and critic Chris Molanphy’s super in-depth, meticulously researched podcast is perfect for the sorts of pop junkies who are always ahead of the charts. From B-sides that deserved better and the mid-8 0s preoccupation with the charity single to Madonna’s fulcrum to electronica , nothing is too big a topic for the host to break. HJD
If you like this try On Shuffle

Alexa
Alexa Chung with Mike Skinner and Murkage Dave.

In the Third Person Podcast
Laidback celebrity interviews

Dry your eyes: there isn’t a new Streets album, but there is a Mike Skinner podcast. He and TONGA collaborator Murkage Dave are the hosts of this interview show, which, to date, has featured Liam Gallagher( who memorably describes fellow parents at the school gates as” nosy cunts “), Alexa Chung, XL boss Richard Russell and SB.TV founder Jamal Edwards. HJD
If you like this try Distraction Pieces Podcast with Scroobius Pip

Longform
Journalism unpacked

As any hack who has ever muttered:” Oh only give me the dictaphone, I’ll do it ,” slightly out of earshot of a tedious starlet will already know- if you want great quotes, interview journalists. In between the endless river of New Yorker staff writers we hear from all-time greats such as Gay Talese and Michael Lewis. GH
If you like this try Thirty Seconds Or Less

Love Island: The Morning After
Post-show analysis

You know your podcast has hit the big time when it’s not sponsored by Squarespace. This one has Kellogg’s Corn Flakes as its philanthropist. Corn Flake, of course, were originally designed to dampen the sex drive, but don’t tell Arielle Free and Kem Cetinay, who chew through the previous evening’s fumblings on the ITV2 monolith. GH
If you like this try Buffering the Vampire Slayer

Love+ Radio
Strange tales

The stories at the heart of this intimate, moving podcast are what will maintain you coming back for more, from sorrow to revenge to near-death traumas. Nothing is too niche, either: a recent episode focused on a Texas violin teacher who believed he’d cracked a classical music mystery, while season five highlight A Girl of Ivory is about a man “married” to two plastic dolls. HJD
If you like this try Swipe Left Swipe Left !

Lovett Or Leave It
Political panel

Former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett is a fast-talking bomb of smart one-liners- he’s the kind of human who would stalk the corridors of The West Wing or Veep, correcting everyone along the way. His podcast, from the same stable as quick-witted Pod Save America, offers razor-sharp sentiments on Trump’s North Korea summit, Facebook’s influence on politics and Bill Cosby. HV
If you like this try Slate’s Trumpcast

Meat
Body positive introspection

Meat
Meat podcast.

Jonathan Zenti isn’t the most prolific podcaster and he admits that nothing will top his first episode, Host’s Fat, in which he talks about how he feels about being overweight. He’s right: it’s one of the most incredible podcasts you’ll hear; full of honesty, raw feeling and an insight into why society has such a problem with people who take up more space in the world. HV
If you like this try
The Heart

My Dad Wrote a Porno
Risque book club

My Dad Wrote a Porno sounds bizarre on paper, but not as bizarre as the Belinda Blinked series- a situate of stilted, cringe-inducing sexuality books written by host Jamie Morton’s dad. Morton’s reactions- as well as those of co-hosts Alice Levine and James Cooper- are what induces the indicate, though. And with their current tour taking them to huge venues around the world, you imagine there are probably plenty more Belinda-themed tomes still to come. HJD
If you like this try The Worst Idea of All Time, No Such Thing As a Fish

The Nod
Exploring the US black experience

Brittany Luse and Eric Eddings venture down various race-related tracks, be it the Wayans friends flick White Chicks or the 1974 Zaire football team’s World Cup adventure, in a garrulous way that appeals equally to everyone. Case in point: I Want That Purple Stuff, in which the duo delve not into Alice Walker, but how grape-flavoured soft drinks became a staple of African-American culture. GH
If you like this try Cosby Unravelled

On Shuffle
Musical talking points

Good music podcasts are hard to come by , not least because you can’t really play music on a podcast for reasons of copyright( boo ). Despite this, On Shuffle- from US sport and culture site The Ringer- does a great job at summing up the biggest debates of the minute, from the death of divisive rapper XXXTentacion to whether Kanye West is actually cancelled. HJD
If you like this try Hit Parade

Pod Save America
How the White House works

Left-leaning common sense-merchants Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor and Jon” Not the one from Swingers” Favreau all worked in Barack Obama’s team and now have plenty to get their Trump-baiting teeth into each week. Obama gifted them his last interview as President and now they give a twice-weekly insight into how the White House works and how horrendous the current situation is. HV

If you like this try Making Obama

Queery with Cameron Esposito
Queer Eye for the podcast

Cameron
Cameron Esposito.

At a hour when queer culture is more mainstream than ever but often commodified and contorted, it’s heartening to hear US standup Esposito attain genuine a link with well-known names across the gender and sexuality spectrum, with a smattering of laughs hurled in for good measure. This warm podcast often feels like earwigging on a conversation between two mates, with recent guests including Search Party’s Alia Shawkat, Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay and Drag Race contestant-turned-comedian Trixie Mattel. HJD

If you like this try

Nancy, RuPaul: What’s the Tee ?, Las Culturistas

The Recappables
TV-flavoured conversation

Where once we would have had proper companions to watch TV with , nowadays it’s an altogether more solitary pastime, and one many of us squidge to fit into commutes or even gym conferences. However, chats about telly haven’t vanished; rather, they now unfold on social media, in comments sections or on a podcast like this, which boasts strands encompassing Westworld, Billions and Atlanta. There’s also The Rewatchables, its sister reveal, which is all about the exhilaration of rewatching your favourite films, from Miami Vice to The Big Lebowski via David Fincher’s The Social Network, a cinema that’s both compelling and now increasingly anachronistic. HJD
If you like this try The Wire Stripped, How Did This Get Made?

The Reductress Minute
Bite-sized feminist satire

Joke women’s site The Reductress has long been the place to go for hilariously on-the-nose comic “news”( among its recent makes are Feeing Dinner in Bed Transformed Into Self-Care by String Lightings and Are You Ovulating or Did You Just Seem at a Scene of The Rock Holding His New Baby ?). After putting faux-advice podcast Mouth Time on ice last year, they’ve launched The Reductress Minute, a recap of the site’s best stories of the week, plus some all-time classics. HJD
If you like this try Guys We Fucked, Call Your Girlfriend

Rule of Three
A comedy fan forum

Created by Joel Morris and Jason Hazeley- the writers behind Philomena Cunk and Ladybird Books for Grown-ups- this celebratory new podcast asks comics to talk about the comedy they love in order to learn something about the maths of attaining people laugh. Particular highlights include Rufus Jones on Robert De Niro’s Midnight Run, John Finnemore praising the dark pleasures of Chris Morris’s news satire On the Hour and Danielle Ward dissecting Bottom( not like that ). HG
If you like this try Sitcom Geeks, Museum of Comedy

Sandra
Scripted technophobia drama

Gimlet’s seven-episode blast is snappy enough to binge in a day and one episode is never enough. Alia Shawkat is Helen, a woman in the middle of a messy divorce who gets a undertaking scripting the answers of a virtual assistant( played by Kristen Wiig ). Ethan Hawke is her bothersome manager, who becomes just another problem as Helen’s life begins to unravel. HV
If you like this try Rabbits

Savage Lovecast
Audio agony aunt

Dan Savage dedicates the best love and lust advice around in his distinctly NSFW podcast. Nothing is left uncovered, so if you need to know how to explain your kinky predilections on a dating profile or when to ask if your new partner is trans, Savage is your guidebook. And yes, the dilemma he solves are real. HV
If you like this try Dear Sugars

Short Cuts
Short documentaries

The Radio 4 show offers” brief encounters, true tales, radio escapades and seen audio” and each one is a self-contained gem. Josie Long presents the long-running series packed with observations on themes from sibling rivalry to mortality, and just about everything else in between, so you never know what you’re going to get. HV
If you like this try The Truth

Song Exploder
Sleeve notes

Each Song Exploder might be only be around 20 minutes long, but in that time host Hrishikesh Hirway persuades musicians to take the deepest dive into pop sungs in a way that stimulates you crave a listen by the end. If you haven’t already been hooked, start with St Vincent’s New York, Lorde’s Sober and Solange’s Cranes in the Sky. HV
If you like this try New York Times’s Popcast

Still Processing
Identity politics and pop culture

Still
Still Processing. Photo: Ryan Pfluger/ The New York Times

The New York Times’ Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham are two writers of colouring who aren’t afraid to get real about race and identity. They present this sharp pop-culture pod, where you can expect to hear about everything from “bad” women on screen to Roseanne’s Ambien-fuelled Twitter meltdown, the rise of fag pop and what whiteness means on screen in 2018. HJD
If you like this try
Keep It

Susan Calman’s Mrs Brightside
Comedians on mental health

The Scottish standup invites other funny people to discuss their mental health and help remove the stigma that persists. Although subtitled A Cheerful Looking at Depression, Calman’s guests have varied challenges; in the opening episode of eight, she sits down with Edinburgh-nominated comic Jordan Brookes, who has pure O, a type of OCD that focuses around inner compulsions rather than outward rituals. Kind, raw, pertinent and funny, this is everything a mental health podcast should be. HJD
If you like this try Terrible, Thanks for Asking

Switched on Pop
The maths of music

A fascinating deep-dive into how vast teams of talented people channel their knowledge of melody, diminished chords and syncopated snares into making genuinely terrible slush pop. Or, if you prefer, a subtle reminder not to reject a Despacito or a Twenty One Pilots out of hand. GH
If you like this try Henry Rollins’ Henry and Heidi Show

Table Manner
Food with famous people

What could be only another pop star reminiscing about Live Lounges and the album campaign pause has turned into its own enlightening entity. This podcast procures musician Jessie Ware sitting in her kitchen with her rambunctious mum, who attains dinner for a new guest each week, from Ed Sheeran to London mayor Sadiq Khan, the latter of whom broke his Ramadan fast to talk about standing for re-election, nightlife in London, crime and chips. HG
If you like this try Homo Sapiens

Unpopped
Zeitgeist musing

The BBC’s pop culture offering gets a millennial spin with this factual-but-fun podcast hosted by journalist Hayley Campbell. Zoning in on the biggest pop culture trends and moments of recent history, from One Direction to Drag Race and, er, Come Dine With Me, she and her contributors offer detailed overviews that never feel overly weighty. HJD
If you like this try The High Low

The Watch
Pop culture explained

The Ringer- the website that’s the new home to cult sports writer Bill Simmons- bottles his brand of” lightly worn- heavy IQ” commentary in the same style his old stomping ground Grantland did. Here you can find The Watch, where novelists Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan take the week’s biggest watch/ read/ listen questions apart, from the Fox-Comcast merger and Black Mirror to Donald Glover’s This Is America video. GH

If you like this try

Slate’s Culture Gabfest, The Nerdist

Where Should We Begin
Couples therapy

In each 40 -4 5-minute episode, two romantically entwined, often anguished people sit with Esther Perel, Belgian psychotherapist and emotional mastermind, who works through their insecurities. From low libidos to overcoming infidelity, role play and all ways of childhood traumas that might lead to a skewiff love life, the podcast is an essential for nosy or curious forms. Season three is set to branch out into family and platonic relationships. HG
If you like this try Death, Sex& Money

Why Is This Happening? With Chris Hayes
The news, explained

Slate’s grumble-heavy Trumpcast made heavy weather in 2016. In 2018 the genre it spawned has morphed into a kind of horrified “Aaarghcast”. With a title that recalls Jeff Goldblum turning into The Fly, Chris Hayes investigates a question bigger than just the meaning of Trump: just why the entire mass of society, democracy and media seems to be warping and folding beneath us. GH
If you like this try Chapo Trap House

WTF With Marc Maron
Intimate interviews

Prolific podcaster Maron pulls in big names, from Barack Obama downwards. His angry preambles are dynamite and he even builds the adverts voiced furious. Start with the Jennifer Lawrence episode, in which she out-talks him and is rip-roaring company rather than line-toeing Hollywood ingenue. HV
If you like this try The Joe Rogan Experience

You Must Remember This
Hollywood history

This cinematic exploration is hosted by Karina Longworth, a narrator whose voice drips with old-school glamours and powder-room rumor. Marilyn Monroe gets the three-episode treatment and Joan Crawford enjoys six degrees, while there’s a whole string devoted to Charles Ma

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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