6 new podcasts to listen to this week

Are you taking the next step in your relationship? Do you have anything you would tell your younger self if you could go back and talk to them now? Or do you want to know more about one of the internet’s most complex mysteries of all time? One of this week’s podcasts could be for you.

Podcasts of the week

1. Young Again

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Society

BBC stalwart Kirsty Young is back with another series of Young Again, in which the presenter asks celebrity guests what they’d tell their younger selves if they could go back and talk to them now.

It’s a conversation starter with endless appeal. Who doesn’t love getting into the inner thoughts of the rich and famous? And often it transpires that while celebs’ lives look very different on the outside, there’s something relatable in the challenges they’ve experienced and the wisdom they’ve gleaned.First up for the new series is Scottish actor Peter Capaldi, 65. Most of the episode is a trip down memory lane, as Capaldi reflects on his path from working-class Glasgow lad to household name as the star of shows including Doctor Who and The Thick Of It.

But it wasn’t a typical rise to showbiz fame – Capaldi talks about ‘almost’ breaking Hollywood after winning an Oscar for a short film he directed in the Nineties, only for the attention to disappear soon after, leaving him thinking it was all over.

Ultimately though, he believes it made him a better actor, and shifted his perspective on the difference between success, talent and having a rewarding career. It’s a gentle, insightful listen, ideal for a relaxed walk or morning cup of tea at the weekend.(By Abi Jackson)

2. The Vendors Table

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Relationships

Joined by a recently married Tiffany and make-up artist Christiana in the latest episode, the host of the bi-weekly podcast The Vendors Table, MC Mide brings together different wedding vendors and couples to talk about what really goes on behind the scenes at weddings, while also getting them to share some useful tips and pointers to help the recently engaged plan their big day, or at least make it a bit less stressful.

After a fun wedding-themed icebreaker, MC Mide asked Tiffany – who grew up in France – about how she went about finding Christiana to do her make-up.  Using Instagram as her main source of help, she managed to narrow things down and loved how her make-up looked after her first trial.

But there is so much more to the big day that Tiffany mentioned. For example, why she introduced the “three-month rule” when selecting the 65 people who attended her wedding at Carlton House Terrace near Buckingham Palace. If she hadn’t spoken to a potential guest within three months, they didn’t quite make the cut.

It was all about keeping things simple, sticking to a budget and having her nearest and dearest witness her grand display of love.

The Vendors Table is a great podcast for people who are taking the next step in their relationship and are looking for uncensored advice, especially those who have no insight from friends and family.

(By Yolanthé Fawehinmi)

3. Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Society

“With any art, you can’t control how it’ll be received,” American writer, producer, actress, and comedian, Quinta Brunson said to Sam Fragoso, the host of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso, where he has been having intimate conversations with artists, activists and politicians over the last eight years.

It’s a lesson she has been learning since her mockumentary, Abbott Elementary, about a group of passionate teachers at a Philadelphia public school – and a slightly tone-deaf principal – who find themselves thrown together and determined to help their students succeed in life, first aired in 2021.

People have been motivated to have conversations, that sometimes the show only touches lightly on. For instance, when an episode focused on a gifted programme, three days later people were debating online about whether they should even exist in schools or not. They even contacted respective schools about their concerns. This was what Brunson meant when she made that statement.

As the episode moves along, Brunson warms up and starts to settle down. She opens up about what it was like having her mother teach her in kindergarten,  her earliest comedic influences, improvising whilst she was at college, what it was like moving to Los Angeles at age 23 and why it was quite alienating for her.

It was great for Fragoso to also include audio clips from the new season of Abbott Elementary, which is out now in the US. It helped to give some context and reminded me of why I love the show so much.

It’s truly a celebration of teachers who are often underpaid and overlooked but show up every day because they care.

(By Yolanthé Fawehinmi)

4. Style & City Diaries

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Fashion and pop culture

The introduction of the fashion and pop culture podcast Style & City Diaries feels like a warm hug. It’s what makes me think the camaraderie between the dynamic cousin duo hosts Prinny Rae and Amber Leaux, is genuine.

Usually when a podcast conversation starts with “How are you?”, you don’t get much out of it. But on this occasion, Leaux pulls off her mask and admits that she’s hungover after not drinking so such in a long time, and why she thinks she may be teetotal going forward. As a listener, I appreciated the honesty.

Rae goes on to talk about why we all get so optimistic when it comes to how we use our weekend, and why getting your hair braided has become so expensive.

And with their live show coming up – how exciting – on April 21 at London’s Union Theatre, they both have also started thinking ahead about how they want to wear her hair. Should they go blonde? Do a big chop? Do another braided hairstyle? A bob? I can’t wait to see what they decide.

The podcast does a great job at merging general girl chat, lifestyle dilemmas and fashion news, whilst providing a sense of community with their listeners. It kept me company.

(By Yolanthé Fawehinmi)

Spotlight on…

5. The World’s Hardest Puzzle

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Technology

What is one of the internet’s most complex mysteries of all time? The Cicada 3301 puzzles.

Launching on January 19, The World’s Hardest Puzzle is a new investigative podcast from Stak, which looks into the underbelly of the internet.

Hosted by Tommie Trelawny, founder of the YouTube channel Hochelaga, and journalist and podcast producer Nicky Anderson, both acknowledge the nerves and excitement and make a pact to just jump right into it.

This mystery began in January 2012, after an organisation called Cicada 3301 introduced itself on 4chan, an online messaging board and posted a series of cryptic messages with the intention of “recruiting highly intelligent individuals”.

But these posts later led to a series of cryptic puzzles, cyphers and codes that were intellectual minefields. There were even rumours that the company had links to the US intelligence service.

The puzzles returned for a second year, and a third. Then, silence.

The duo speak to those who found themselves at the heart of the mystery, including members of the solving community. They also exclusively interview Thomas Schoenberger, a man who claims to be the founder of Cicada 3301.

If you are looking for a podcast that will take you down a minefield but leave you with answers, The World’s Hardest Puzzle could be one for you.

(By Yolanthé Fawehinmi)

6. Elis James and John Robins

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Pop culture

Returning to BBC Sounds bigger and better for 2024, award-winning BBC Radio 5 presenters Elis James and John Robins are releasing two podcast episodes every week – which has become more of a regular thing for mainstream podcasts.

But it now means that for the duo, Tuesdays have gone through something of a rebrand and are now cool. It’s their new Friday.

In the latest episode, there are a lot of laughs and an interesting conversation about tipping culture in the UK. There are some places where you always tip, but why can’t you tip a helpful sales assistant working at Sainsbury’s?

And after hearing Robins share a ridiculous story about an injury he picked up whilst racing against someone in fancy dress, it’s safe to say that from personal anecdotes to pop culture references, the conversations between James and Robins are all unhinged, unpredictable and humorous. It’s what makes the comedians and best mates work so well together.

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