Best podcasts of the week: Paul McCartney looks back on The Beatles and beyond

In this week’s newsletter: Get unmatched access to the musician’s story in the 12-part Life in Lyrics. Plus: five of the best podcasts about modern masculinity

Widely available, episodes weekly from Wednesday
Poet Paul Muldoon has had enviable access to Paul McCartney, as the two collaborated on a book about lyrics, so their podcast is delightful and detailed. McCartney proves he’s one hell of a storyteller as he describes the characters he’s created, revealing that the US audience thought Penny Lane was about selling puppies. With a huge back catalogue, there’s plenty more to come, from Back in the USSR to Eleanor Rigby and Live and Let Die. Hannah Verdier

Black Earth
Widely available, episodes weekly
A brilliant ball of positivity and action, Black Earth is back for season two, in which host Marion Atieno Osieyo reimagines the environmental movement with the help of inspiring Black female figures. First up is gardener, forager and cook Poppy Okotcha, who jumps straight in to examine her relationship with nature. HV

Comfort Eating
Widely available, episodes weekly
Nadiya Hussain (below) confesses her love of Minstrels, Milton Keynes and instant mashed potato topped with cheesy tomato soup as this Guardian podcast with Grace Dent returns for series five. It’s the usual lively fun, with plenty of engaging culinary chatter. Alexi Duggins

The Real Sex Education
Widely available, episodes weekly
Inspired by the hit Netflix series, the fifth season of this podcast – which actually isn’t anywhere as awkward as it should be – is hosted by sex therapist Cate Campbell and her inquisitive son Diggory. They dig into questions about sex and relationships, and start with “the ick” – when you are suddenly turned completely off by someone. The fact they are mother and son certainly doesn’t stop them getting into the nitty gritty. Hollie Richardson

The Today Podcast
BBC Sounds, episodes weekly from Thursday
One of the UK’s biggest radio news shows gets a bespoke podcast. Nick Robinson and Amol Rajan host this show from BBC Radio 4’s Today, promising behind-the-scenes insights on how the programme is made and deeper dives. Plus, a slower pace that – less tantalisingly – will see Robinson “take a breath and kick off my shoes”. HV

This week, Charlie Lindlar chooses five of the best podcasts on modern masculinity, from tips on fatherhood with a good dollop of humour to sharing experiences of trauma and how to persevere

Rylan: How to Be a Man
Not a particularly simple question: what does it mean to be a man? “The rule book has been ripped apart”, believes the X Factor hopeful turned presenter Rylan Clark, host of this compelling podcast on modern masculinity. In his curious quest to answer that question, the charming everyman presenter meets men from boxer Amir Khan to the young gay footballer Jake Daniels and transgender journalist Freddy McConnell for their take. His opening question for each episode alone – “how masculine are you feeling today?” – immediately sees each one hit its stride from the jump.

At first glance, The Art of Manliness founder Brett McKay is the antithesis of our last host – his online bio says he “enjoys barbell lifting, hiking, and burgers” – yet it has the same spirit: how do we become the best men we can be? McKay’s approach is more practical and less spiritual than Rylan’s, with gruff episodes on why men fight, which fitness supplements work and how to throw a networking event (there’s also a lot here on habits and productivity). But scroll through more than 900 episodes in McKay’s archive, and every man will find something to dig into.

Rob Beckett and Josh Widdicombe’s Parenting Hell
In the hands of lesser hosts, podcasts talking about how much of a raw deal it is to be a dad can be cringey. But these two successful comedians took on the prickly topic of fatherhood with humour, panache and a healthy dose of not taking themselves too seriously. Seven seasons later, the pair are still producing one of the finest podcasts – let alone parenting podcasts – out there. The key? A startling ability to go both low-brow and high, and extract compelling advice (and better yet, confessions) from their celebrity pals.

A Gay and a NonGay
“The UK’s #1 LGBTQ+ podcast” sees James Barr (the aforementioned “Gay”) and Dan Hudson (“NonGay”) challenge whether straight and homosexual men are all that different, and ponder what is driving increased homophobia and hate in the headlines. While the podcast – which has over 300 episodes since its inception in 2016 – naturally focuses on LGBTQ+ issues such as being queer in the Middle East or the scourge of heteronormativity, no episode is inaccessible to a listener pressing play for the first time. Everyone is welcome.

Stories of Men: Beneath the Surface
Podcasts on male tales of perseverance often focus on the business hustle, survivalism, or what it’s like to endure some genre of military training in the woods. Stories of Men dares to focus instead on male experiences of trauma, and how these experiences shape the people we become – and aspire to be. Host Alex Melia meets a range of men – in episodes that can be as short as 15 minutes – to hear the lessons they have learned from enduring the tough stuff. And while the show wades through deep topics such as family estrangement or why men avoid the doctor, Melia is unafraid to throw in curveballs such as a recent episode on why queer men struggle with the hypermasculine space that is the barbershop.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Mick Jagger John & Yoko’s Elvis Presley & Priscilla Presley