Looking for a new podcast to get stuck into this January? Here are 14 of our top podcast picks for 2021, including Wondery’s The Apology Line and Sky News’ Into The Grey Zone.
We were spoilt for choice when it came to choosing a perfect podcast to plug into last year.
From fascinating conversations on Grounded With Louis Theroux to Michelle Obama’s highly-anticipated first podcast offering and, of course, Stylist’s very own Nobody Told Me… series, there was something great for every daily walk, three-hour-long bubble bath and intense banana bread-baking session.
As we continue to navigate a third lockdown, this time in the icy months of winter, it’s likely that we’re going to have just as much free time to discover new podcasts in 2021.
But where should you start?
From a deep examination of sibling relationships to two friends dissecting each and every Marvel film, here are the podcasts we predict will bring you great comfort, laughter, tension, intrigue and pure entertainment this year.
The Apology Line
Looking for something completely different to listen to? The Apology Line offers exactly that.
For 14 years, people could call a number in Manhattan and anonymously apologise for doing something. This new podcast from Wondery tells the story of the line, and the man at the other end who became consumed by his own creation, “Mr. Apology”.
As thousands of callers flooded the line, confessing to everything from shoplifting to infidelity to drug dealing and murder, Mr. Apology realised he couldn’t just listen: he had to do something, even if it meant risking everything.
Marissa Bridge, who actually knew Mr. Apology better than anyone (they were married!), hosts this six-episode series about empathy, deception and obsession.
Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown is a quirky, informative, and interactive podcast that breaks down the myths and misunderstandings about mental health and emotional well-being.
Neuroscientist Mayim Bialik combines her academic background with a vast personal experience to provide listeners with valuable practical advice focusing on removing the stigma surrounding mental health and encouraging an understanding of the mind-body connection.
Nothing is off-limits as Mayim breaks it down with an amazing collection of guests.
Into The Grey Zone
Presented by Sky News foreign affairs editor Deborah Haynes, Into The Grey Zone is a new 9-part weekly series that explores the grey zone between war and peace, where no one is too unimportant to be a target.
Discover the covert tactics used by states, criminals and terrorist groups to deceive, gain influence and, at times, kill. With world-exclusive interviews with spies and military chiefs, the series offers a chilling insight into a murky evolution of warfare.
This is serious stuff, and it deserves your full attention. The first episode recently kicked off by taking a deep dive into the Salisbury poisionings.
Period Power With Maisie Hill
Menstrual health expert, acupuncturist, life coach and Period Power author Masie Hill brings us a no-nonsense podcast all about periods. If you’re dealing with menstrual cycle issues, or you’re ready to harness your hormones, this podcast will help you understand your periods more. It’s informative, very helpful for our daily lives and absolutely fascinating.
I've Never Seen The OC
The biggest news of the year so far, arguably, is that The OC will be available to stream on All 4 later this month. So you’re going to need a podcast all about the nostalgic teen drama to plug into after those weekend binges.
I’ve Never Seen The OC is a sweet and funny conversational podcast, which sees a hardcore fan dissect every episode with a total newcomer to Orange County. They’ve just started the third season, so you can catch up with previous episodes while waiting for the weekly new ones to be released.
The Morning After Mix
We’ve accepted this is going to be one of the toughest Januarys ever, so ease yourself into it with these weekly two-hour mixtapes from BBC Sounds. Gentle new songs and old favourites are mixed together to provide some audio comfort and make you feel better. It’s perfect background noise for that first week back at work or for those long, wintry weekends spent indoors doing chores.
Love them or loathe them, siblings play a massive part in our lives. On Relatively, host Catherine Carr will bring siblings together to talk about the connections they have with each other as adults, as well as what it was like growing up. But she’ll also talk to them separately, to get a private take on the relationship. Expect nostalgia, honesty and lots of teasing.
Desert Island Dishes
Think of the Desert Island Dishes format but swap music for food… and you’re onto a winner. Chef and food writer Margie Nomura returned with a new series of the foodie podcast late last year, and she’s got more episodes lined up for 2021. Be warned: hearing her guests (including Nadiya Hussain and Alice Liveing) talk about food glorious food in such detail will make you feel very, very hungry.
The Marvel Virgin
Paul is a virgin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kayleigh, on the other hand, knows everything – and I mean everything – about the MCU (she’s also Stylist’s digital editor-at-large). What happens when the two pals chat after Paul watches each Marvel film for the first time? Irreverent and fun banter, full of factoids for all the other Marvel fans and virgins out there.
Thank You Next
If you broke up with someone last year, you probably want to leave them in 2020 and move on. On Thank You Next, Raj Pander and Hardeep Dhadda invite you to turn your relationship losses into wins. Expect super honest, awkward and embarrassing chats with the hosts and their guests. And it’s not just romantic relationships being discussed here: it’s also about friends, family and work.
Pepp Talk Podcast
Who’s in need of a good pep talk before heading into 2021? Cue: straight-talking Breeny Lee. The love coach and influencer gives her opinion on every situation you may be facing in your day-to-day life. From how to stop being a people pleaser to the truth about fairytale relationships, there is an episode that will speak directly to you right now.
The Orgasm Cult
In the search for wellness, how far would you go? That’s the question BBC Radio 4’s The Orgasm Cult examines. Nastaran Tavakoli-Far investigates One Taste – a wellness company that is currently facing allegations of sex trafficking, prostitution and violations of labour law – through exclusive interviews with former employees and asks big questions about the wellness industry.
Death Of A Starlet
Every podcast roundup needs a new true crime offering, right? Death Of A Starlet is a six-part series by Wondery and the team behind the hit Hollywood & Crime series. In August of 1980, Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten was found dead at just 20 years old. How did Dorothy’s Hollywood dreams lead to her death? Co-hosts Tracy Pattin and Josh Lucas investigate.
Grounded With Louis Theroux
Louis Theroux launched his podcast on BBC sounds during last year’s first lockdown. Here we are again, “grounded” in the third lockdown. So thank the broadcasting heavens that Theroux’s podcast is still going strong with a second series. With recent guests including Michaela Coel, Miriam Margolyes and Ruby Wax, we always know that each episode will be a treat.
Images: supplied by each podcast
Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…