Many celebrities enjoy hearing the sound of their own voices, though fame alone doesn’t mean they’re always worth listening to.
These podcasts, while full of distinguished guests or presenters, offer a twist on the well-worn format of starry hosts schmoozing with their celeb mates.
Celebrity profiles are a staple of magazines and newspapers, but some journalists, unable to get to the horse’s mouth, source quotes from their inner circles and dust off old interviews. In the right hands, it’s a compelling formula and is particularly effective on BBC Radio 4’s series Profile (Apple, BBC Sounds, Spotify) in which presenter Mark Coles knits together the lives and careers of those in the public eye by vox-popping their cohorts and splicing in excerpts from previous interviews.
It’s slick, well-edited (episodes around 15 minutes), and on the zeitgeist. Happy Valley actress Sarah Lancashire was recently profiled, as was artist Nan Goldin (the subject of a new documentary), writer Hanif Kureishi (paralysed after a fall in December), and naturalist Chris Packham (on a three-month broadcasting hiatus to make sculptures).
Of Irish interest are Jessie Buckley, Derry Girls creator/writer Lisa McGee, Sinn Féin Northern politician Michelle O’Neill, singer and environmental activist Feargal Sharkey.
Surely little can faze a man who once flew alongside Idi Amin in his presidential jet, sent live despatches from Gaza and investigated the final brutal weeks of Sri Lanka’s civil war. In his “retirement”, Jon Snow – the longest-serving anchor of Channel 4 News, 1989 until 2021 – has turned to podcasting. For his series Snowcast (Acast, Apple, Spotify), he interviews entertainers, academics, authors and entrepreneurs, putting aside a newscaster’s impartiality. Launch episodes include self-professed “humanist journalist” Jon Ronson and neuroscientist Prof Sophie Scott, who shares amazing research on the human brain.
Upcoming guests include comedian Munya Chawawa, actor/director Adjoa Andoh, author Robert Harris, and journalist Gary Younge.
London is the star attraction of Clara Amfo’s This City (Apple, Audible, Spotify) in which the whip-smart radio and TV presenter picks the brains of public figures for their favourite haunts.
There’s an autobiographical element too, with British Vogue’s editor-in-chief Edward Enninful tripping down memory lane of his childhood digs in Vauxhall and Ladbroke Grove, Louis Theroux on his formative years in south of the city, and former Strictly pro Aljaz Skorjanec on swapping Slovenia’s oldest recorded town for the Big Smoke.