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How to make your week more interesting


What to watch, listen to and read so you finish the week more informed and more cultured – a perfect dinner party guest...


The radio show: Start The Week, on BBC Radio 4 at 9am sets the week’s cultural agenda with thought-provoking chat between high-profile guests from public life. Topics can stretch from feminism to conflict zones. If you miss it download from bbc.co.uk/podcasts.

The newspaper column: an alternative start to the week is Charlie Brooker’s brilliantly original and satirical Guardian G2 column. His pessimistic rants and surreal musings are the best antidote to real news.

The email newsletter: ei Digest is a smart daily précis of the day’s serious watercooler topics – politics, economics and world events – delivered first thing in the morning. Great for the time-poor and knowledge-hungry. Register free at editorialintelligence.com.


The newspaper section: The Times’ T2 addresses health matters with a muscular mix of diet, exercise, medicine, therapy and mental health – no sensation or scare tactics. Dr Mark Porter’s column demystifies the latest medical research, while dietician Amanda Ursell takes a balanced view of nutrition.

The website: Shiny Shiny TV (shinyshiny.tv) is a mainstream tech and gadget site with a young, mostly female audience. Accessible and witty, it rates smartphones, tablets, apps and accessories for practicality, functionality and enjoyment.

The blog: The Economist’s Johnson blog (economist.com/blogs/johnson) is a must for would-be linguists and sticklers for impeccable grammar. Covering crimes against language, recent blog posts include ‘Apostropholypse now’ and ‘The half-life of metaphors’. Prepare to feel smug.


The TV programme: Prime Minister’s Questions – 30 minutes of live House of Commons coverage. Traditionally disorderly, but you will catch early indications of policy and breaking news amid all the bluster. BBC Parliament, midday and BBC iPlayer.

The podcast: Which? Money’s weekly round-up delivers independent, authoritative personal finance news, advice and money-saving tips. If you’re considering investing in an ISA, applying for a mortgage, or switching your bank account, can you afford not to listen? Free via iTunes.

The column digest: The Atlantic Wire rounds up the best five columns of the day from America with a brief summary and links to all. Makes catching up with the top-line topics in the States a breeze. theatlanticwire.com.


The magazine: New Scientist delves into matters that affect and fascinate us all, such as antibiotic resistance, how big a risk sinkholes really are, and, yes, life on Mars. There are few more compact and digestible sources of science, health, environmental and technology journalism than this 57-year-old weekly journal.

The TV programme: Question Time was originally only scheduled for a short run 1979, but the BBC wasn’t counting on how enlightening and entertaining it is watching the fear in the eyes of politicians and public figures as they come face to face with intelligent, informed and eccentric members of the general public. Follow the Twitter hashtag #bbcqt at the same time. BBC1 10.40pm.

The website: Smithsonianmag.com is a hub of intelligent and quirky research from across the globe, ranging from the discovery of ancient dog bones to the history of the bob haircut. Clever, succinct and eccentric it will furnish you with everything you need to impress even the most earnest of dinner party guests.


The radio show: Mark Kermode And Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews on BBC Radio 5 Live at noon is an entertaining debate on the week’s new releases, between Britain’s leading film critic and one of radio’s most seasoned broadcasters. In their hands, cinema on the radio makes total sense. The podcast is available on the BBC website bbc.co.uk/podcasts.

The blog: Bricks Insider (store.thetimes.co.uk) delivers property news, comment and tips from The Times’ online property team; property values, market stability, investment expertise, housing design, other people’s homes – a worthwhile read.

The podcast: Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4 is an effective way to squeeze some joy from the final commute of the week. Comedy sketches and satirical takes on the week’s news either from The News Quiz or The Now Show (depending on which series is currently running) means you’ll be up to date and significantly happier. bbc.co.uk/podcasts.


The column: Caitlin Moran’s artful dissection of popular culture and political issues in The Times Magazine shows exactly why she’s won awards and acolytes (plus some enemies). An opinionated feminist and humorist, Moran’s talent lies in her ability to handle serious issues with a light touch, while giving depth to such frivolities as Lady Gaga, high heels and OK! magazine.

The radio show: Weekend Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 is an opportunity to catch the best of the Monday to Friday mid-morning shows. The presenters’ superb handling of the week’s topics, ranging from the UK’s most powerful women, to chick lit, to open relationships, is digested into an hour of essential listening here at 4pm.

The newspaper section: Traveller in The Independent offers a perfect balance of enjoyment, escapism and practical facts about big trips, short breaks, city guides and hotels. Simon Calder’s travel news, advice and industry insight are unparalleled in the media.


The TV programme: make a 9am date with The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 for hard-hitting interviews with political leaders and sharp analysis of the morning’s news from a mix of media types and highbrow celebrities.

The newspaper supplement: The Observer’s The New Review is worth an hour of your precious Sunday just solely for its concise critique of the week’s music, film, television and book releases. Will keep you culturally relevant at the watercooler.

The radio show: BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme at 12.30pm has never been more pertinent. Not a cookery show, but one that conducts in-depth investigations into food controversies, celebrates Britain’s culinary heroes and explores different cuisines and diets.

How do you stay informed and culturally aware? Share your favourite blogs, TV shows, podcasts and reading lists with us in the comments below or on Twitter @StylistMagazine.



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