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Best Podcasts: The essential shows you need to be listening to right now

Bored of listening to the same music on your commute? Then there’s a good chance you need to spice things up a little bit with some new podcasts to mix things up a bit.

Whatever you’re into – there’s going to be something that will no doubt take your fancy. Film and pop culture? Got it. Songwriting? You betcha. Murder mysteries? Yep, plenty of them. We’ve broken down the best podcasts below, from the finest dramas to the grizzliest true crime.

The ones for the True Crime fan


What is it? OK – so you’ve probably heard of this one but if not, it’s simply investigative journalism at its finest. Sarah Koenig and crew investigate shady going-ons, including a murder trial from 2000 in the first series and the fallout following an US soldier’s ‘desertion’ in Afghanistan in 2009. It’s had over 100 million downloads so far over less than 20 episodes, so feel free to hop on the bandwagon.
For fans of: Making A Murderer, Spotlight, gasping on the tube
Where to listen: www.serialpodcast.org

Untold: The Daniel Morgan Murder

What is it? In 1987, Private Detective Daniel Morgan’s body was found murdered in London, with an axe through his head. His case, said to be the most notorious unsolved murder in British history, is picked apart in painstaking details on this inquisitive and addictive series.
For fans of: Midsomer Murders, The Kray Twins, Serial
Where to listen: www.untoldmurder.com

1. Luckiest Mugging In The World

Exploring Daniel Morgan’s background, and the murky world of private detectives and police in South London in the 1980s after an £18,000 heist.

You Must Remember This

What is it? Similar in format to Serial, but a little more niche, shall we say. You Must Remember This exclusively focuses on the ‘secret and/or forgotten histories of 20th century Hollywood’, detailing the rise of the film industry on the West Coast and the fascinating stars that helped build the institution. In particular, the series focused on musician-turned-cult-leader Charles Manson and the build up, execution and fall-out from his grisly crimes, will likely go down in podcast history.
For fans of: L.A. Confidential, Birdman, Hollywood
Where to listen: www.youmustrememberthispodcast.com

Dirty John

What is it? A six-part thrill ride that spins “a complex web of love, lies and intimidation”, says NME’s Alex Flood. “When Deborah Newell, a wealthy 50-something interior designer, met John Meehan on a dating site he seemed like a total catch. They were married within four months. But as their relationship progressed, it soon became clear that this knight in shining armour was not who he said he was. Dirty John recounts, in captivating fashion, Deborah and her family’s growing horror as they discover the violent and sinister truth this man tried to hide from everybody.” It’s gripping and infuriating.
For fans of: S-Town, Breaking Bad, lies
Where to listen: www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-dirty-john/

Dirty John podcast

The ones to make you gasp


What is it? From the makers of Serial and This American Life, this outstanding podcast entranced the world back in March when all seven episodes dropped online. Host Brian Reed follows up on a tip from the enigmatic John B McLemore about a murder in his home town, but the podcast soon unravels to be something far more shocking and sweeter than that. One of the year’s most stunning podcasts.
For fans of: Southern Gothic, whispering, Serial
Where to listen: www.stownpodcast.org

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The Butterfly Effect

What is it? Author and broadcaster Jon Ronson investigates the effect of free porn in the modern world. From the people who made it happen to those who lose out because of piracy, it’s an eye-opening an often heartwarming exercise in breaking taboos.
For fans of: The Men Who Stare At Goats, My Scientology Movie, investigations
Where to listen: www.audible.co.uk

The ones to make you feel smart

Revisionist History

What is it? Acclaimed author and economist Malcolm Gladwell digs deep on a range of topics from the education system to religion, with a set of deeply interesting and personal case studies. A touch of chin-stroking and cutting analysis here and there, in typical Gladwellian fashion.
For fans of: Documentariessociology, Panorama
Where to listen: www.revisionisthistory.com

This American Life


What is it? This American Life is a weekly American radio show and podcast that focuses on non-fiction journalistic reports around a broad scope of topics. In fact, it’s this show that spawned the hugely successful Serial as a spin-off series. TAL is considerably wider in its scope, and in the past has featured first-hand stories of men with long-hair, plumbers and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A diverse bunch, then.
For Fans Of: Serial, documentaries, compilations
Where To Listen: www.thisamericanlife.org

The Cold War: Stories From The Big Freeze

What is it? One for the history buffs, this. The Cold War lasted over decades, but broken down into 15-minute segments, Bridget Kendall tells the story of the conflicts and incidents that formed the decades-long stand off with the people who are in the thick of it.
For fans of: Deutschland 83, US-Russia relations, The Americans
Where to listen: www.bbc.co.uk

The ones to make you laugh

My Dad Wrote A Porno

What is it? Yes, it’s exactly like the title suggests. Jamie Morton’s father has self-published a dreadful erotic novel and put it on Amazon. The only way to get over the shame is to embrace it – and enlist his two pals Alice Levine and Jamie Cooper to read along, with hilarious and cringe-inducing results. Elijah Wood, Daisy Ridley and Michael Sheen are such big fans – they’ve all made guest appearances in various episodes.
For fans of: 50 Shades Of Grey, dodgy dialogue, cringe-a-long
Where to listen: www.mydadwroteaporno.com

My Dad Wrote A Porno – Episode 01 by My Dad Wrote A Porno

Imagine if your Dad wrote a dirty book. Most people would try to ignore it and pretend it had never happened – but not Jamie Morton. Instead, he’s decided to read it to the world in this brand new comedy podcast.

Adam Buxton Podcast

What is it? British funny man Adam Buxton found fame when broadcasting on 6 Music with co-presenter Joe Cornish. The latter has since moved into filmmaking and Buxton now hosts his own podcast, with guests like Scroobius Pip, Rob Delaney and Louis Theroux bringing anecdotes aplenty.
For fans of: Laughing, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Vic Bob
Where to listen: www.adam-buxton.co.uk/ad/



The ones for the music fan



Mogul: The Life and Death of Chris Lighty

What is it? Based on the life and times of Violator Records founder Chris Lighty, Mogul tells the inside story of his rise to the top, during which he helped manage and release record by 50 Cent, Q-Tip, Missy Elliot, Diddy and more – as well as his suicide in 2012. Told with cameos from rappers Warren G, Fat Joe and others. It’s a profound and often funny journey through hip-hop’s origins and explosion.
For fans of: Hip-Hop, Empire, The Get Down
Where to listen: www.gimletmedia.com/mogul/

Song Exploder

What is it? The podcast invites esteemed musicians to break down one of their most successful songs, beat-by-beat. Just this week, MGMT were on the show to detail the insightful and bizarre stories behind ‘Time To Pretend’.
For fans of: NME’s Soundtrack Of My Life, 6 Music

The ones for the pop-culture buff

Channel 33

What is it? After moving from the now-defunct Grantland website (RIP), Andy Greenwald, Chris Ryan Juliet Litman and more talk pop culture, breaking down the finest television, films and music on offer.
For fans of: Game Of Thrones, award shows, fan theories.
Where to listen: www.soundcloud.com/channel33




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