The last year has seen an explosion in excellent new audio. These podcasts, radio shows and Instagram Live Videos will while away the hours.

Having endured three lockdowns in the space of one year, you’ve probably trotted through a fair few episodes of Desert Island Discs. You may still be in mourning for Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes’s total hit of a podcast, The High Low, which sadly bowed out last December after 150 episodes. You’re likely to be very grateful that Times Radio came into being in our hour of need. But you are also bound to be thrashing around, right about now, for more to listen to. Are we correct?

Here is our selection of the best things to listen to online at the moment.

Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour

Everybody’s talking about Woman’s Hour. (Other topics are thin on the ground, admittedly.) Not only is the programme celebrating its 75th birthday this year but it has a shiny new presenter to boot. Replacing Jenni Murray and Jane Garvey, who did the job for 33 and 13 years respectively, Emma Barnett brought confidence, daring and energy when she began in January. Her guests are interesting and relevant. Listen if only to join the national debate about whether Woman’s Hour is better now or past its peak.

Archewell Audio

Since their departure from the UK, one of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s many high-profile projects is their exclusive podcast deal with Spotify. The plan is to create and host shows, under the banner of Archewell Audio, that will ‘bring forward different perspectives and voices’ and ‘celebrate kindness and compassion’. So far only one episode, December’s Holiday Special, is available. In it, a fascinating roster of singers, poets, artists, activists, writers and athletes send Harry and Meghan video diaries in which they reflect on the lessons they learned in 2020. Big names like Elton John, Brene Brown and James Corden feature alongside lesser-known mortals. Subsequent shows are due to land soon.

Clover Stroud’s Instagram Live Videos

Clover Stroud is a mother of five and an author who ‘writes about the way life feels’. Honest, raw, uplifting and real, her Instagram feed is compelling. Her two memoirs, The Wild Other and My Wild and Sleepless Nights, are must-reads. She has just finished the third draft of her third book. Throughout the pandemic she has also been ‘in conversation with’ other writers in a series of thoughtful Instagram Live videos. Trust us: there is gold to be mined here.

Deliciously Ella Podcast

Everything about Deliciously Ella’s recently revamped platform is brilliant, including the latest series of her podcast (which is available wherever you usually get your podcasts from). This upbeat content – hosted by Ella and her husband and business partner, Matt – gives you a chance to ponder, learn about and devote time to your own personal wellness. The podcast, which has had 10 million listens since its launch in 2018, is packed with great tips, knowledgeable guests and plenty of (healthy) food for thought.

Julia Samuels’s Instagram Live Videos

The leading psychotherapist Julia Samuels has taken to Instagram Live with alacrity during the pandemic – and we should be very grateful for it. A couple of times a week, she graces her grid in an Instagram Live video, either for a conversation with an interesting person (fabulous examples include interior designer Rita Konig, Susie Orbach and the writer John Preston) or for a gripping chat with her 10,400 followers about life in lockdown and its impact on our wellbeing. Not to be missed.

Radio 4’s Open Book

You will know Elizabeth Day from her brilliant How to Fail podcast (if you are not familiar, look it up immediately) but now she has started presenting Radio 4’s Open Book programme, too. On this literary treasure trove of a show, she and co-host Johny Pitts take it in turns to discuss new books, interview authors, chew over trends and analyse old classics. Listen to it as you do the laundry and you’ll never want to stop.

Willow Crossley’s Instagram Live Videos

Fragrant florist and author Willow Crossley posts regular videos demonstrating lovely things you can do at home with flowers. Watch them for her soothing voice, pretty garden room and serene vibe. They are all good but the one she posted in the run-up to Valentine’s Day was heavenly. Even if you never recreate any of her projects, just listening to her is good for the soul.

Homeschool History Podcast

This list is supposed to suggest excellent things for you to listen to at the moment; it isn’t meant to focus on your children. However, the BBC’s Homeschool History podcast is so good that you will want to listen to it with your children. In fact, it is good enough to listen to without them. It has just returned – like a gift from God – for a second series. The Great Fire of London? Leonardo da Vinci? The Battle of Hastings? There is no funnier, cosier or more accessible way to learn about history.

By Becky Ladenburg
February 2021

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Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

As the GWG's features editor, Becky has her discerning finger on the cultural pulse. She's also our go-to expert on the property market.