Discover the storytelling podcasts that will leave you spellbound

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Helen Booth
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These days, you can find a podcast for almost anything. There are shows that discuss self-care, those that will help you get more sleep, and others that provide expert career advice. However, sometimes you want a show that will help you take your mind off your own problems and whisk you away for an hour or two - and, for that, you need one of these brilliant storytelling podcasts.

The Moth

With events hosted all around the world, The Moth invites people on stage to share their chosen personal story with a rapt audience. All the stories are recorded, and some of the best are selected to appear in this wildly popular podcast. The stories range in listening time from about five to 20 minutes, and each podcast episode features a few different stories on a similar theme. These tales are true as remembered by the storyteller, and are often heartwarming and funny, occasionally truly heartbreaking, and sometimes a combination of all three.

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In each episode of Heavyweight, someone is offered the chance to find closure around a crucial turning point in their life - with a little ‘help’ from the charmingly bumbling host, Jonathan Goldstein. So far, this has included reuniting one man with an old collection of CDs by way of an awkward visit to Moby’s house, investigating why a women named Rose was kicked out of her college sorority over a decade ago, and arranging an emotional meeting between the driver and victim of a car crash that took place four years ago. Each story is told with humour and sensitivity, and there’s an underlying sense of mystery in each episode will keep you hooked until the credits roll.

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After Serial transformed the world of podcasting in 2014, recruiting vast numbers of new listeners to the platform and giving podcast creators fresh insight into what keeps listeners hooked, a number of new cliffhanger-heavy serialised podcasts arrived on the scene. One of those was Limetown, the fictional tale of a large-scale disappearance in a small Tennessee town. The 11-episode podcast kept listeners addicted until the very end, and there are plenty of creepy moments to keep you on your toes.

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Family Ghosts

In this relatively new podcast, host Sam Dingman tells the stories of the mysterious family secrets that cast shadows over future generations. It’s an irresistible concept, and the resulting episodes are the kind you’ll be thinking about long after you’ve finished listening. For now, there are seven episodes to catch up on from the first season. Many of these touch on issues which are quite heavy and can be difficult to talk about, but this makes for important and emotionally raw moments of storytelling. Fingers crossed that this one will be back for season two.

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36 Questions

As the first ever ‘podcast musical’, this experimental production focused on a couple attempting to bring their marriage back from the brink of divorce by using the buzzy ‘36 questions’ challenge that went viral after it was featured in The New York Times. The three-part podcast, which stars Jonathan Groff (formerly of Hamilton) and rising broadway star Jessie Shelton, is surprisingly engrossing - it would be easy to binge on all three episodes over the course of a couple of days.

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The Mystery Show

This podcast only ran for one very short season (there are only six episodes in total) but what it lacks in longevity, it more than makes up for in quality. The show’s creator and host, This American Life alum Starlee Kine, takes it upon herself to solve a different mystery in each episode. Although the cases themselves may seem trivial (they range from the origins of a lost belt buckle to the question of Jake Gyllenhaal’s true height), each episode has a surprising emotional depth and emphasis on the importance of human connection.

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