The Podcasts Our Lifestyle Editor Is Loving This Month

Our lifestyle editor Sherri Andrew listens to dozens of podcasts each month, so when she raves about something, you can be sure it’s worth a listen. From new series to long-time favourites, here are her top picks for January…
By Sherri Andrew /

High Low With EmRata

EmRata – or Emily Ratajkowski – is the latest A-lister to launch her own podcast. Fans of Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes’s discontinued series The High Low won’t find the same mix of high-brow and low-brow topics, but this new series is honest and candid – you’ll feel like you’re listening to a real conversation between friends. In each episode, Emily is joined by a celebrity pal to talk everything from politics and philosophy to feminism to sex. Some guests, like Julia Fox and Ziwe, are friends, while others are people she admires who are helping to shape the cultural landscape in the US and beyond.

Episode Highlight: Julia Fox

I’m fascinated by Julia Fox, who, after a brief relationship with Kanye West earlier this year, has carved out a space for herself in the fashion world thanks to her unique and daring outfits. Then there’s her TikTok, which often goes viral thanks to her straight-talking and oddly illuminating opinions. In this episode, Julia and Em talk about being mothers in the public eye and dating the wrong kind of men. Julia also opens up about her past as a dominatrix and her current relationship with sex. 

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Pop Culture With Chante

I love a pop culture podcast to keep myself up to date with the latest news and celeb goss. Cue this new series by The Guardian, presented by writer and broadcaster Chanté Joseph. Each week, Chanté is joined by a different guest to discuss the hottest and most important topics, and how they’re shaping and impacting our lives. Expect to hear about diet culture, Rihanna’s comeback, Harry and Meghan, and the minefield that is dating in 2023. 

Episode Highlight: Heroin Chic? Jameela Jamil Says No

Chanté is joined by actor and creator of the I Weigh platform Jameela Jamil, who was outraged when the New York Post published an article back in November that declared ‘Bye-bye booty: Heroin chic is back’. To emphasise how damaging that narrative is in the media, Jameela talks about growing up with an eating disorder, being scouted for a modelling agency while anorexic, and the pressures of being thin in the public eye. An insightful and important conversation for all. 

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Elizabeth The First

This isn’t a series about Queen Elizabeth I, but rather an exploration of the life and times of Elizabeth Taylor as a Hollywood icon, mother, wife, entrepreneur, advocate – and influencer. Being an influencer today is one of the most sought-after jobs. In fact, according to a recent study, 87% of kids say they want to be famous. Elizabeth Taylor defined the meaning of influence and transformed its power by living a remarkable life beyond the dazzle. Narrated by long-time admirer Katy Perry, the series includes interviews from those who knew her best, including friends, family and fans. 

Episode Highlight: The Boss Who Played Queen

Elizabeth overcomes unthinkable loss and rises to become the biggest movie star on the planet. She uses this power to negotiate a huge fee for her leading role in the 1963 film Cleopatra, becoming the first woman to receive £1m for a movie. As her stardom rises to new heights, the world’s eyes are on her, but there are tumultuous years ahead…

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Fiasco: The Aids Crisis

I love a light-hearted series for background listening, but I also enjoy investigative or historical series that highlight a point in time or topic in depth. Audible’s Fiasco is one of those latter series. Created by the team behind the award-winning Slow Burn podcast, this is an eight-part series about the Aids epidemic in America, focusing on the early years of the crisis, when a diagnosis was akin to a death sentence. Hosted by journalist Leon Neyfakh, it includes original interviews with key players who lived through the epidemic, when dozens of their friends were passing away. It also explores the processes around identifying and treating a new disease, and what it took to get the government to eventually take action.  

Episode Highlight: 2: How To Have Sex In An Epidemic 

The first episode recounts how doctors and scientists responded to the arrival of a strange and terrifying new disease. The second instalment focuses on the LGBTQ+ community which was ostracised from American society and struggled to get those in power to help. As the Aids crisis worsened, gay men in New York City improvised a response, forming alliances and campaigning for resources. 

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Cocktails & Takeaways Podcast

The name doesn’t give much away, but this is the funniest podcast I’ve listened to recently. Originally sent to me by a friend, it’s a long-form show presented by content creator Madame Joyce. She’s joined by a fellow content creator or TikTok star each week to talk about world news, life updates, and the biggest issues coming out of their WhatsApp group chats, from how to get revenge on an ex to getting rid of fake friends. The best part? Joyce’s hilarious quips and effortless chemistry with each guest. 

Episode Highlight: True Crime, Petty Exes & Love Is Blind With Max Balegde

Max Balegde (surname from that Jesy Nelson ‘Jamaican’ accent video) is one of the UK’s rising stars on TikTok. In this episode, he and Joyce put the world to rights, sharing their most scandalous stories and dating disasters. Max also shares his coming-out story and talks about navigating the dating scene growing up. 

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Acting For Others

This new podcast helps to raise funds for its eponymous charity, which aids the theatre industry by providing both financial and emotional support to all UK theatre workers. Award-winning actress Samantha Bond opens episodes which feature two actors from different walks of life: some meeting for the first time, others catching up as old friends. You’ll hear from Olly Alexander (It’s a Sin) and Judi Dench; David Tennant and Paapa Essiedu (The Capture, I May Destroy You); and Dame Eileen Atkins and Adjoa Andoh (Bridgerton, Invictus) among others. Expect to hear everything about their lives and experiences in the industry.

Episode Highlight: Miriam Margolyes and Sir Derek Jacobi

Friends and theatre patrons Miriam Margolyes and Sir Derek Jacobi join forces to talk about their career highlights and showbiz memories. Through Derek’s soft tones and Miriam’s hilarious anecdotes, the two discuss Miriam’s first years out of the closet, being mentored by Sir Laurence Olivier, and Miriam’s embarrassing moment in front of Harold Pinter…

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They Did That

During last year’s LGBTQ+ History Month, I made a conscious effort to learn about notable people in the queer community who have been forgotten over time. There are some useful books, but I found podcasts were a great way to broaden my historical knowledge, including They Did That, hosted by Canadian journalist Takara Small. Each episode highlights an individual or group of trailblazers who never got the recognition they deserved because of who they were: women, people of colour, or queer. From the first female film director in 1920s France to the Black engineer who revolutionised the transport industry in America, Takara shines a light on the most important forgotten figures.  

Episode Highlight: The Cup Noodle King: Momofuku Ando

Did you know that instant noodles were invented during World War II to stave off hunger in Japan? However, they weren’t created by a big corporation – a Taiwanese man named Momofuku Ando created them in his garden shed after weeks of trial and error. He went on to become a serial entrepreneur, creating the first instant noodles in a pot. A fascinating and inspiring listen.

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Closet Confessions

If your idea of a good podcast involves two friends sharing secrets and hilarious anecdotes, this new series will be right up your street. Author and journalist Candice Brathwaite and content creator Coco Sarel invite listeners into their wardrobe where they share secrets and have a proper gossip. From bad behaviour and dodgy dates to controversial opinions, the closet is a safe space to reveal all. I’m a big fan of Candice so I’m looking forward to seeing more of her playful side. You can even send in your own confessions if you want advice – or a few laughs – from the duo.

Episode Highlight: Ghetto twins, Colons and Kiddibups

It’s the start of 2023 and Candice and Coco don’t hold back with their first confessions of the year. Candice keeps it real and discusses her recent colonoscopy, before revealing her body image struggles after giving birth to her son five years ago. They also talk about breaking off toxic friendships and the reality of female loneliness.

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Mother Country Radicals

Part true crime, part memoir, this podcast is narrated by Zayd Dohrn, whose parents were radicals on the run from the FBI in the 1970s. In this series, he speaks to his mother – who at one time was declared the most dangerous woman in America – to find out what happened. Zayd was born underground; his parents were counter-culture outlaws in the Weather Underground Organisation which declared war on the US government. They fought with riot police on the streets of Chicago, bombed the Pentagon and the Capitol, broke comrades out of prison, and teamed up with Black militant groups to rob banks, fight racism, and help build a revolution. A timely release.

Episode Highlight: Chapter 3: I Am A Revolutionary

Zayd’s mother is arrested by the police and his father is charged with criminal conspiracy. Meanwhile, a young Jamal Joseph is radicalised at 15 and joins the New York Black Panthers. The group is sharing resources and working with the Weathermen. A deadly attack by Chicago police puts both groups on a path towards a violent revolution.

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Infamous

This podcast tackles some of the most explosive scandals from this century. Journalists Vanessa Grigoriadis and Gabriel Sherman take an in-depth look at the stories that turned into a media frenzy, from celebrity stories to the downfall of some of the world’s most powerful people. From high-profile divorces and sex cults to the lies that started a war, they guide listeners through the juiciest, most outrageous tales of the last two decades, and give you a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to shine an unflattering light on the world’s most influential people.

Episode Highlight: Boy Gone Wild

The third instalment in the series focuses on Girls Gone Wild, the softcore porn company started in 1997 by frat entrepreneur Joe Francis. The videos featured women – and girls who were barely 18 – who were slim, attractive, and usually drunk while on holiday with their friends. Francis was a serial physical and emotional abuser, many of the videos were filmed without consent, and young girls were forced to perform sexual acts for the camera. This first episode charts Francis’ uncomfortable rise to fame and the ways in which he exploited young girls for money.  

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