A Collection of Great Podcasts - Part 3 of 4: Entertainment

7 Day Sunday

One of a clutch of weekly news satires that I listen to, this is a hilarious panel discussion style podcast hosted by Al Murray. He’s joined by Andy Zaltzman most of the time, as well, which just jacks up the funny in the show to new levels. Mostly because of Andy’s “boy who cried wolf” relationship with facts. I’m also a big fan of news satire shows and try to watch or listen to most of them.

Answer Me This!

This show has no real reason to exist. Its premise is that listeners send in questions and the daffy duo of Helen Zaltzman (yep, Andy Zaltzman’s sister) and Olly Mann – ably supported by Martin the Sound Man – answer these questions. Why would these questioners not use the Internet? Because the hosts are just that good, that’s why. They aren’t really media professionals (or at least, they weren’t till this show became famous), which gives the show an endearing quality that is really rather hard to define. I got obsessed at some point and listened to all the free back-episodes that I could, then went out and bought their book, watched all their videos on Youtube and memorised all the jingles. One could never get too much Helen and Olly.

Friday Night Comedy - The Now Show

This is another satirical take on the week’s UK news headed up by Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt. Largely in sketch form, there are also topical funny songs and stand-up routines by popular comedians. This is part of the same Friday Night Comedy podcast as The News Quiz – the two shows appear to alternate every other month.

Ian Collins Wants A Word

After listing everything out here, I realised this is the only “shoot the shit”-type podcast that I listen to. That is all Ian Collins and Sideshow Kev do in this show. Not much news, although some big ticket items are occasionaly discussed, with Collins bringing in a pragmatist Tory angle. There are a couple of other sections that are really funny, and my personal favourite is the collection of Random Acts of Irrational Annoyance. They bring on a guest (nearly) every show, and have a bit of light-hearted chin wag. On occasion, they’ve even brought on people who they were clearly poking fun at (Tony Topping, Alex Jones, and David Icke)!

Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews

This is the definitive film review show. Mark Kermode is the (very opinionated, and sometimes just wrong!) film critic, while Simon Mayo brings to bear his considerable radio experience and plays a very capable second fiddle. They discuss the top 10 movies at the UK box office for the week, Mark reviews the movies that’re released that week, and bring on a prominent film personality to discuss an upcoming project, all intermingled with listener interactions and reviews. All this sounds quite pretty basic, but they do a damn good job of it, and the show has built up a strongly dedicated fan following (yours truly included) over the many years it’s been running. Mark Kermode’s occasional headlong dive into an outright rant about shitty or annoying movies are quite legendary, with the review of Sex And The City 2 being of the best examples.


This used to be a hilarious sketch show satirising the week’s news events, headed up by Margaret Cabourn-Smith. Unfortunately, it’s been off air for so long I can barely remember what it was like! I recall it being very similar to The Now Show (mentioned above as part of Friday Night Comedy), so it’s possible that it was just subsumed into that programme instead. Which appears even more likely as Cabourn-Smith is a regular fixture over there as well.

Simon Mayo’s Confessions

Every weekday Simon Mayo hosts the drivetime programme BBC Radio 2, which is made up various little bits between song requests, like book reviews, cookery and general talk. One of these bits is the Confessions corner, where listeners write in confessing to some embarassing act in their past that they’ve not really owned up to. Simon Mayo reads these out, and the assembled panel take a call on whether they’ll forgive the sinner or not. The confessions are often quite mundane, but Simon’s delivery and the forgiveness banter make this one of the shows I most look forward to every week.

The Bugle

This is the funniest, and one of the best, podcasts I listen to. Another weekly news satire show (billed as an “Audio Newspaper for a Visual World”), this pdocast features Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver holding forth their hilarious – and occasionally sensible – views on the news of the week. This is one of the few shows I’ve encountered that has a relatively global approach to the news discussed, and also has a fan-base of total nutters. It used to be hosted by The Times Online, then went independent in January 2012. This was shortly after Andy Zaltzman launched a series of hilariously blistering attacks on Rupert Murdoch and the New Corp empire in the aftermath of the phone hacking scandal. Coincidence? Nobody knows.

See all the posts about the podcast collection here.