BBC Radio Podcast Stable


I’m rather fond of quite a few of the British Broadcasting Corporations’ radio podcast catalogue and I was wondering how far that interest extended to the Waypoint forums. As part of it’s many duties, the BBC produces broadcast radio content, a lot of which is, in 2017, also backed up in podcast format and accessible for everyone (including those outside the UK). A great deal of it is geared to be educational in outlook, although there’s a certain amount of ‘fluffy’ shows too.

As a fair warning, those without a UK TV lisence should download episodes rather than try to stream them, as you will otherwise have to log in to a BBC account which is tied to the TV licensing system.

I’ve only dipped into parts of its catalogue, but I would be interested to hear thoughts, recommendations, and criticism of the BBC’s podcast radio output. What’s your experience with the BBC’s podcasts output? What did you listen to and what did you make of it?

I’ll be making a little list of recommendations as we go, so, if you feel strongly about something coming up, feel free to write a little something and post it in the thread (or send it to me) and I’ll append it to this post (with credit!).

  • 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy (nykgordon)
    • Hosted by Tim Harford. Short-form educational podcast, discussing specific topics, from market research to the Haber-Bosch process, in five-minute episodes.
  • In Our Time (robowitch)
    • Hosted by Melvyn Bragg with a rotating guest panel of academics. Guests discuss a set academic topic (in fields such as history, science, mathematics, and others), explaining the concept in 45 minutes while being shepherded by Bragg. Educational.
  • The Inquiry (padraic_padraic)
    • Hosted by a variety of people. Run by the BBC World Service, The Inquiry deals with a single clearly-posed question and discusses it… The production is a little shakey at times, and they can definitely fall prey to a little of the BBC’s uncritical both-sides-ism, but they’re generally good for a quick, informative overview.
  • Kermode & Mayo’s Film Review (robowitch)
    • Host Simon Mayo and film reviewer Mark Kermode review the movies released in this week, along with discussing the UK box office top ten. Much banter ensues. The ship that launched a thousand in-jokes (hello to Jason Isaacs). Geared towards entertainment, occasionally educational. Probably the easiest to listen to if you’re used to podcasts.


Its twice daily global news podcast is still the premiere international news podcast which is much appreciated but I find myself really enjoying 50 Things That Made The Modern Economy. Bite sized 5 minute knowledge capsules.


As a person from Britain I kind of hate the BBC and avoid it where possible.


Oh this is a really good thread idea; the US is definitely disproportionately represented in my podcast feed, to the extent where I can feel like I end up more informed on US current affairs than I am about UK and especially European news.

I personally really enjoy The Inquiry from the World Service, which answers a single clearly posed question (grounded in current events). The production is a little shakey at times compared to something like a PRX show, and they can definitely fall prey to a little of the BBC’s uncritical both-sides-ism, but they’re generally good for a quick, informative overview.

As an example, their recent-ish episode on "Who gets to have their own country?" is really good at setting out a quick history on contemporary notion of nations.


Actually, not to hijack a thread, but I’d be interested if any of you have suggestions for British/European podcasts more generally? Because my feed is almost entirely dominated by US shows at the moment.


On the BBC thing, Dr Karl does a Q & A session once a week that is released as a podcast. There is also another podcast in the same feed which is OK, but the Dr Karl one normally has some pretty interesting stuff in it:

For other British ones, Richard Herring does one each week which can be interesting/funny depending on the guest (it’s famous as Stephen Fry was on a few years back and admitted for the first time his suicide attempts). Armando Iannuci was on last week and that is a pretty decent one.


I’m a big fan of the Food Programme. Usually smart or interesting if not both—better than most food related podcasts out there most of the time.

BBC Food Programme

I also like The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry. It’s generally pretty entertaining, even if it isn’t in my first tier of podcast favorites.


What is your podcast jam? I’m going to recommend Crudely Drawn Swords because I make it, but there’s enough good shows coming out the UK that one could probably spend a lifetime listening to them and not be done, so depending on what you’re into I might have a few suggestions.


I listen to the News Quiz and News Quiz Extra whenever that is available. Was fantastic when Sandi Toksvig presented it and is still great with Miles Jupp now hosting and Jeremy Hardy as a regular guest.

As for other British podcasts I’m guessing it’s very well known due to John Oliver having a TV show in the US but I’ve always loved the Bugle. I just started listening again after falling off of that around the time John left to concentrated on his TV show (wish that was on free TV here) but it seems to be a regular show again and Andy Zaltzman is great on it.

I’ve downloaded In Our Time which can be interesting and some of the Reith Lectures (though mainly to hear Bertrand Russell) but have only listened to a few. I need a job where you can listen to podcasts more as I’m not the most knowledgeable.


I also picked up on The Food Programme (today infact) and they have some really great and interesting topics that may be directly or tangentially related to food. And oddly enough, The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry was also on my list to suggest as being another one to try out.


Bumping this after catching @robowitch recommend an absolutely WILD sounding BBC show in the community waypoints thread that I had never even heard of, and because I’m increasingly growing tired of the NPR-style podcasts that seem to dominate my feeds atm.

I’m here to (tentatively) recommend a show I’m only just starting to listen too, Kitchen Cabinets. My brother pitched it to me as “Gardener’s question time, but for food”, hosted by the Guardian’s resident surly restaurant critic Jay Rayner.


Just gonna quote myself further to what @padraic_padraic said:


Inside Science is a very accessible science programme that has a nice mix of new discoveries, long-term projects, and historical science.

All In The Mind is a well presented, well-meaning, and intelligent look at mental health, psychology and neuroscience. They recently had a project on loneliness, and also present an annual awards series looking at different things people have done to help mental health from being an exceptionally good friend to running bicycle maintenance classes.

Thinking Allowed is a sometimes-good/sometimes-okay/sometimes-meh sociology programme. The subjects and their researchers can be really interesting, but the presenter often talks over people and refers to tedious anecdotes of his life as a middle-class white man.

Inside Health is probably more relevant to UK listeners, and is about health discoveries, projects, healthcare, etc. Margaret McCartney is awesome.


I have spent a significant time getting around to this, but am now listening to an episode — this is a good recommendation! Very akin to In Our Time in some ways.


It was a limited run but The Assassination was a great podcast about Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

I also love the Africa Today podcast, African news stories get dropped and ignored by larger news outlets regularly so having a podcast focused on those issues is really informative.

The Infinite Monkey Cage is a fun science panel podcast

Not sure if Spotlight Tonight with Nish Kumar is still running but it was very enjoyable

Outside BBC but still British I like the Novara Media podcast for coverage of British politics from a left wing perspective

The Bugle has been super great even after John Oliver aka Johnny Showbiz left. Andy Zoltsman has a talent for terrible puns and the guest hosts have been amazing.