Wednesday, 20 December 2017

2017's Best Podcasts

This year I have mostly been listening to Podcasts whilst cycling around Denmark.  The usual suspects  BBC Radio 4's podcasts - In Our Time and Great Lives plus the Friday Night Comedy - have been much enjoyed travelling companions but for me 2 independent Podcasts have stood out:

James Holland's Chalke Valley History Hit and;

Dan Snow's History Hit have proven to be very high quality productions with fascinating topics.  

The Chalke Valley History Hit provides roughly hour long talks recorded at Chalke Valley History Festival's over the years and topics this year have ranged from Andrew Marr's take on Brexit and Tory leadership contenders to succeed Theresa May to Bettany Hughes' history of Istanbul.  Himmler's Great Niece talks of the struggles of the family in coming to terms with their infamous relative whilst James Holland tells the story of Dunkirk. For me though the best episode was undoubtedly the one in which Jung Chang spoke of the Empress Dowager Cixi.  This particular episode talks of a figure that will be unfamiliar to Western Audiences by an author with a superb grasp of modern Chinese history and who herself witness Mao's cultural revolution 1st hand.  If you listen to nothing else from 2017 listen to this podcast.

Dan Snow's history hit has a similar wide sweep but is wonderfully prolific and reactive to ongoing world events with 'emergency podcasts' on Theresa May's calling of the UK General Election in 2017 and then another on the unexpected outcome of that election, the troubles in Catalonia and the toppling of Confederate memorial in the US as well as Donald Trump's policy of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital provide great topics for Dan and his expert witnesses to provide historical insight on these current events.  The rate at which Dan produces high quality insightful podcasts is stunning - sometimes new episodes appear on a daily basis and the historians who contribute are leaders in their fields - from Margaret MacMillan to Mary Beard to Anne Applebaum to Niall Ferguson

Highly Commended:

Other podcasts that I have dipped in and out of this year include:

Brian Moore's Full Contact which given how much I dislike Moore's commentary on rugby matches on BBC has been a revelation as it is balanced, informative and very enjoyable though I tend only to listen on International weekends it has been a must listen in a Lion Year.

Remainiacs - only recently discovered this keeps me in my happy place.  Ian Dunt and crew with 'a no flim flam Brexit podcast for everyone who knows that leaving the EU won't be un morceau de gateau. We're not sick of experts and we won't shut up and get over it.'

The Outdoors Station - Bob Cartwright has passed the 10 million download mark thisyear and still produces this excellent podcast the highlight this year for me being his 2 Moors Way Trip from South to North across Devon.  Bob also produced a You Tube record of the trip well worth a watch.

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