For many, podcasts are the perfect pandemic distraction (unless, of course, you opt to listen to a pandemic podcast). Offering consumers the opportunity to listen to what they want, when they want and for how long they want, they've quickly become one of the best ways to access content. They're accessible, easy and you never need to miss your favourite episode.
But whether you're a podcast newbie or just looking for something new, we've rounded up a list of interesting, engaging content that, once we're back in the office, you can share with your colleagues. This is by no means an exhaustive list, rather something to get you started.
This investigative journalism podcast is hosted by journalist and producer Sarah Koenig, who narrates a non-fiction story over several episodes. Season one investigated the 1999 murder of 18-year-old student Hae Min Lee in Baltimore, capturing the attention of millions of listeners around the world. Combining television-style episodic storytelling and the assurance of it being a This American Life-developed podcast, Serial ranked number one on iTunes before it debuted in 2014. Seasons two - about an American Army solider - and three - investigating cases within the Justice Center Complex in the Cleveland area - followed and were equally enjoyed.
A BBC Northern Ireland production, teams dig out old records and create fresh leads concerning events that were previously accepted as factual. As the title suggests, assuming nothing, they re-interrogate the evidence to find answers to their questions. A six-part series began in November 2020 entitled Did the Right Man Hang?, concentrated on Harold Courtney, a Belfast prisoner who, in April 1933, was executed for the murder of Minnie Reid. Gordon Adair hit the road to try and unravel the 90-year-old case.
Where is George Gibney?
Written and produced by Mark Horgan and Ciaran Cassidy, the series follows the story of the former Olympic swimming coach charged with multiple counts of child sexual abuse who never stood trial. The investigation took two-and-a-half years and brought the pair outside Ireland to Scotland and the US. Even now, the show continues to look for leads. Please note: the show, created for BBC Sounds, comes with a trigger warning.
Updated weekly, explore how Northern Ireland was created a century ago with presenters Declan Harvey and Tara Mills - and how events of 1921 have parallels to 2021. A BBC production, a different piece of the story is added each week. To date, the series has included episodes on the life and death of Sir Edward Carson, the consequences of the threat of Home Rule and how a little-known civil servant was key to creating Northern Ireland. Each episode is roughly 15 minutes long and listeners are guided through key events by social historian Dr Eamon Phoenix, among others.
Hosted by historian Jason Burke, this is an accessible and entertaining insight into the city's past. From the celebrating of VE Day in 1945 to a 1912 football match, expect to learn something after you listen to these in-depth episodes.
A comedy podcast hosted by Andy Dawson and Bob Mortimer, it began as a humorous look at the football world but has evolved into including many of the hosts' experiences. The podcasts include a variety of fictional and real characters, voiced by the hosts in semi-regular sections. Despite the move away from football, there are still features that include those known in the world of sport, such as Steve McClaren and Peter Beardsley.
A Perforated Ulster
We've watched them on TV for years, so the new sketch show from the Hole in the Wall Gang is bound to deliver. Updated weekly, expect a hilarious take on current events in Northern Ireland. It's been described as a "comedy vaccine for the news".
Detailing the first-draft secrets of much-loved and admired films, in each episode a screenwriter shares their initial screenplay and chats with host Al Horner about what made it to the silver screen, what didn't and why. All proceeds made from the podcast go to Black Lives Matter UK, the Film and TV Charity and the NHS Charities Covid-19 appeal. From Die Hard to Edward Scissorhands, Moonlight to A Quiet Place, film buffs will be enthralled.
We Need To Talk About Movies
Film critic Jim McClean looks at films old and new. It's A Wonderful Life, Goodfellas and Wonder Woman 1984 are just some of the movies that have been discussed. A great option if you're looking for something to listen to (and rewatch) until the cinemas reopen.
Nature & Nourish with Becky Cole
Mother, herbalist and forager Becky's podcast is for anyone craving a more natural and nourishing way of life. The natural skincare expert, sustainable farmer and mum of two offers ideas on slow living, gardening with children, foraging and herbal spotlights. Each episode lasts a maximum of 20 minutes.
Where Should We Begin by Esther Perel
Psychotherapist and author Esther Perel is known for her insights into modern relationships. In this podcast, listeners can step into her office to hear of anonymous real couple's stories. It's a space where everyone can be heard, with topics ranging from loss to infidelity. It could be a space where you learn something about your own relationships.
How to Fail with Elizabeth Day
We've been taught to celebrate the things that go well or work in our favour, but what about those that don't? Each week, author Elizabeth chats to a guest about how failure has affected them and how it's encouraged them to succeed. With guests including Jamie Dornan and Nadiya Hussain, the podcast may sound unlike an uplifting listen, but it's anything but.
Phoebe Reads A Mystery
Noir lovers rejoice, you may love this. Phoebe Judge - also the host of Criminal, another podcast worth subscribing to - reads a chapter a day from a classic mystery book. Think of it as a reassuring audiobook. You'll be able to access classic reads such as Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone - believed to be the first detective story - Bram Stoker's Dracula and Agatha Christie's The Secret Adversary. Perfect if you love reading but haven't, due to lockdown, got your mojo back, though probably not the thing to listen to before bed.
Love books? Love listening to people talking about books? This may be for you. Octavia Bright, writer and academic, and Carrie Plitt, a literary agent, host a monthly show in which they interview an author about their book and build an episode around a related theme. Authors interviewed have included Sinead Gleeson, Zadie Smith and Elizabeth Strout, with discussions (and some music) on topics such as race and masculinity.
Journalist and author Caroline O'Donoghue discovers the chick lit classics her podcast guests were raised on. There's definitely no guilty feeling about whatever they read. Best-selling romance novelist Milly Johnson speaks about her writing inspiration, Catherine Cookson, while novelist Sarah Maria Griffin shares her love for Maeve Binchy's Evening Class.
The Football Ramble
Available Monday to Friday during the football season, this podcast will keep football fans up to date with news from the Premier League and around Europe. Expect insight and a lot of laughs.
The Greatest Game with Jamie Carragher
Each week, the former player chats with a footballer or a football fan about their team, their love of the sport and their view on what is the greatest game of football they've seen or played in. Guests have included Ryan Giggs, Chris Moyles and Stuart Broad.
Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster
A food and comedy podcast in which guests are invited to pick their dream menus. Nominated In the Best Entertainment category at the 2019 British Podcast Awards, guests - who have included Irish comedian Aisling Bea, author and presenter Richard Osman and broadcaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy - select their favourite starter, main course, side dish, dessert and drink, detailing where and when they enjoyed it. Before the guest arrives, hosts Ed and James announce a secret ingredient that at least one of them dislikes. Should the guest mention the ingredient, they're ejected from the Dream Restaurant without their dinner.
Table Manners with Jessie Ware
With a little help from her chef mum Lennie, Jessie hosts a podcast about family, food and the joy of having a conversation, all from her own dinner table. Each week, guests drop by for a bite and a chat. Most recently, Hollywood star Eva Longoria shared David Beckham's secret to making the perfect shepherd's pie: ketchup. Stars such as Dolly Parton and Robbie Williams have also appeared.
WTF with Marc Maron
Hosted by comedian Marc, it began in September 2009 and is notable for guests from all walks of life making an appearance. Conversations are frank and amazingly revealing. Then US president Barack Obama recorded an interview in 2015 in which he discussed racism in America, while other interviewees have included actors Pete Davidson and Robin Williams.
In the HotSeat
Expect interviews from some of the biggest and most interesting names in Northern Ireland and further afield from the worlds of current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Interviewees to date have included broadcaster Stephen Watson, comedian Shane Todd and civic rights campaigner Emma DeSouza.
Desert Island Discs
Which songs, books and luxury items would you take to a desert island? That's the question asked to a host of well-known names on this iconic radio show. Booker winner Bernardine Evaristo, actress Samantha Morton and astronaut Tim Peake have all been quizzed about their precious luggage.
Best of Belfast
Featuring hour-long conversations from the people living in Northern Ireland, listeners will discover the behind-the-scenes stories of what makes interviewees tick. They'll all be people who you'll love such as Lady Mary Peters. There's also John Elliott, who founded Clements Coffee, and Frank Morris, who built an airplane in his garage.