June 19, 2015
Most of this week passed in a jetlaggy fugue state: I just got back from California, where I got to hang out with all the delightful Radiotopians, AND attend MaxFunCon, which is a mountain-top holiday camp for podcast enthusiasts. In front of a very energetic audience, Dave Holmes, Paul F Tompkins, Janie Haddad Tompkins, Nadia Kamil and I recorded this ridiculously fun episode of International Waters. (Which, obviously, the UK should have won. But YOU try slagging off Sesame Street on the away team’s turf.)
Just after I got back, I was called in for The News Quiz to replace an ill panellist. Thanks to jetlag-brain, I can only remember a single word, and I’m scared to listen back to it, but if you want to, it is here and also on Radio 4’s Friday Night Comedy podcast feed.
I also made a tiny cameo on this week’s 99% Invisible about Sigmund Freud’s couch. See if you can spot it.
The big task this week was shunting out the latest Allusionist, which is all about emoji. I don’t use them myself, but having heard about their place in 5,500 years of linguistic history, I have new respect for them. Listen via theallusionist.org/emoji. Content warning: penis trees.
May 30, 2015
Finally, a job my mum can tell her friends about: I was on Radio 4’s News Quiz yesterday! With Jeremy Hardy, Rebecca Front, Francis Wheen and of course presided over by the almighty Sandi Toksvig. The episode is here, or available on the Friday Night Comedy podcast feed.
Here we are on stage at the Radio Theatre, looking studious while Sandi gives Jeremy Hardy an antihistamine.
May 22, 2015
In the new Allusionist episode, I teamed up with Dan Pashman from The Sporkful, one of my favourite podcasts, to consider the semantics of brunch. He also taught me a breakfast-architecture technique known as ‘the porklift’. Find out more about the episode at theallusionist.org/brunch, and you can hear more of my conversation with Dan on this recent Sporkful episode. My capacity for pedantry pales in comparison to Dan’s! Must. Try. Harder.
I was on this episode of a new Radio 4 comedy panel show, Best Behaviour, with Holly Walsh, Richard Herring and Lloyd Langford. It’s all about manners, which I wouldn’t say were my strong point, but my mum listened and approved, so PHEW.
I’m also on this recent episode of International Waters with Dave Holmes, Arnab Chanda, Paul Provenza and Brigid Ryan. We recorded very soon after the general election, so you may feel Arnab and I were slightly forlorn in our defence of the UK. On the subject of Maximum Fun – I’ll be attending my first MaxFunCon this year, so if you’re going to be there too, please come and say hello! And sign up for one of my group therapy sessions if you fancy airing any of your problems and questions.
Finally: listen out for me on the News Quiz on Radio 4 next Friday at 6.30pm!
April 6, 2015
Today, I had the ridiculous joy of appearing on Woman’s Hour‘s craft special. They asked me to teach Jane Garvey how to sew something on air; as the shops are presently full of diaphanous kimono-style bed-jackety garments, I decided we’d make our own, using three vintage square scarves from my ever-expanding collection (a few months ago I did try to count them, but stopped at 70).
I worship Jane Garvey, but ‘interest in craft’ is not one of her strong points. Watching her wield huge scissors and adopt the unconventional ‘Look, no hands!’ approach to machine sewing, I felt like a novice lion tamer on my first job.
Click here to hear the programme, and click the photo below to zoom in on the tutorial for making one of these very simple garments. I promise they are a lot more straightforward than we made them sound.
Here’s one I made earlier, flapping about in a high wind. There are French horns on the front, medieval men on horseback on the sleeves, and a massive striped Z on the back.
September 3, 2014
I love the latest Sound Women podcast, which this month is news-themed. There’s a despatch from Sky News Radio about how they make almost all commercial radio’s hourly news bulletins; podcast regular Ruth Barnes met Jo Carr, who edits Radio 4’s PM, Broadcasting House and iPM; and I spoke to the formidable Petrie Hosken, who doesn’t get phased by much on air at LBC seeing as she used to report from warzones. When you’ve dealt with the threat of being kidnapped on your way to work, you’re pretty much unflappable.
If you’re keen to learn how to podcast, you can still get a ticket for the Guardian podcasting masterclass on 20th September, in which Bugle producer Chris Skinner, Guardian podcast producer Jason Phipps, software developer Drew White, Radio 4’s Film Programme producer Craig Templeton Smith and I will teach you everything we know about the medium. Book tickets HERE.
April 12, 2014
Planning the documentary the high-tech way
I have no recollection of how I marked my own tenth birthday, but I’ll certainly remember how I celebrated a decade since the word ‘podcast’ was born, because Olly and I made a Radio 4 documentary about it! Here is Part 1 and here is Part 2. If those links aren’t working for you, go here, but don’t say I sent you.
We spoke to lots of interesting and inspiring people to make the show, including (but not limited to):
Ben Hammersley, who invented the word although doesn’t seem too happy about it; one of my favourite podcasters, Flight Attendant Betty; the mighty Marc Maron; our former adversary Richard Herring; Theresa Thorn of the excellent One Bad Mother, and one half of the podcasting power couple behind the Maximum Fun empire; Nate Lanxon, editor of Wired.co.uk; Adam Curry, who was podcasting way before ‘podcasting’ even was named; Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, who begat the stratospherically successful Welcome To Night Vale, though it does not seemed to have turned their heads at all; Keith and the Girl, whose fans are so devoted, they cause themselves permanent flesh wounds; Roman Mars, who Kickstarted a shitload of money to fund 99% Invisible because the show is fantastic and so are podcast fans; Pete Donaldson of the refreshingly non-blokey (for a sports show) Football Ramble; and Producer Chris*, John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman (yes my brother) of The Bugle.
There were numerous more excellent contributors, so rather than take my word for it, you’d better listen instead.
*Fun fact: initially Chris missed our interview, because he was recovering from surgery and fell asleep doing a 1,500-piece jigsaw of a map of the world. I can’t be mad at that.
September 2, 2013
One of the boons of making the Sound Women podcast is that I get to interview people I think are very interesting. Before even starting the series, I had Woman’s Hour‘s Jane Garvey in the crosshairs, so I was utterly delighted to stick a microphone in her face for SWP5. Naturally she did not disappoint.
Also on the episode: Amazing Radio‘s Ruth Barnes and Rachael Devine, and head of Sound Women regions Lucy Duffield. Dose yourself with the show via iTunes and SoundCloud.
This week is the third birthday of BBC 5 Live’s Saturday Edition, on which I’m continually delighted to have a weekly gig. In its podcast form it is known as Let’s Talk About Tech, and on the 31st August episode I contemplate the Huffington Post’s decision to abolish anonymous commenter accounts, and the mother-daughter team who make over $1m scamming online daters.
I have to admit, I’ve been feeling a bit of ‘seven-year itch’ about Answer Me This! lately – but nonetheless I think the show has been on rather good form recently. It is available for your attention at answermethispodcast.com.
May 31, 2012
I was very excited to be on last night’s episode of Charlie Brooker’s So Wrong It’s Right on Radio 4, alongside Graham Linehan (progenitor of Father Ted and The IT Crowd) and Matthew Crosby (occupant of my spare room 2007-2010. Amongst other life achievements).
The show was recorded in March, and having not listened to it yet, I can’t remember anything of what I said. Fingers crossed, eh? I do remember having a lovely conversation beforehand with Charlie Brooker’s mum, who showed me the balls of yarn she had bought earlier that day. She is a very accomplished knitter, FYI.
Also, since Jubilee weekend is almost upon us, allow me a final plug for the Answer Me This! Jubilee album, the aural equivalent of Union Jack bunting.