9 U.K. Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

Meet the feminist collectives, media geeks, and stand-up comedians behind your new favorite podcasts.

June 30, 2016
9 U.K. Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

Podcasts are booming, but for listeners in the U.K., it can feel like you spend most of your time listening to American accents. As great as U.S. shows are, the joy of podcasts is often that you get to hear yourself reflected in the worldviews they display. For British people, constantly listening to podcasts that —for example — discuss the lack of diversity at the Oscars, but fail to mention the BRITs, can feel alienating.

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Sure, most major British institutions, from the BBC to The Guardian to London’s Tate gallery, have their own podcast series. But the truly exciting realm of podcasting is in the world of independent broadcasts: shows like Call Your Girlfriend, The Read, and Millennial. The podcasts that get timelines talking are the ones where young new voices are able to seize the mic, writing often-overlooked perspectives back into the media landscape and telling real life stories.

Thankfully, more and more British podcasters are taking up the mantle in 2016 and making themselves heard. As Aminatou Sow, co-host of Call Your Girlfriend, enthused in The FADER Issue 103, when it comes to podcasts, “the future is that we get to make. We choose our own lanes; we don’t have to participate in traditional media to be heard.” With that in mind, here’s a few rising U.K. podcasts you should get to know.


1. TYCI

Recording today with @realdoko 💡💡💡

A photo posted by Lauren Mayberry (@laurenevemayberry) on

TYCI is a collective based in Glasgow, Scotland, which was founded by Lauren Mayberry of electro-pop band CHVRCHES and music producer Amanda Aitken, and consists of female writers and artists, including music industry folks Stacey Walton and Halina Rifai. Their DIY-feel variety podcast features the members discussing current affairs with a sprinkling of interviews and regular segments, including a featured chat with Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney and Mayberry’s recurring tour diary.

Notable episode: The May 2016 episode, in which the crew highlight trailblazing female politicians, go to the Glasgow zine fair, and discuss the lack of diversity on festival lineups.

Listen to TYCI here.


2. Sistren

Three friends — Vanessa Babirye, Michelle Tiwo, and Stephanie Tiwo — ”talk the ting.” When they’re not on the mic, two of the three 20-something Londoners might be most recognizable as the actors of Cecile Emeke’s web series and short film Ackee & Saltfish. On the mic, you’ll find them dissecting fake Twitter feminists, offensive Halloween costumes, or Drake’s creepy “Hotline Bling” lyrics. Sistren is short enough to listen to on a bus ride, but bold enough to make you burst out laughing no matter where you are.

Notable episode: The first of their second season — on the importance of self-love and the love of good friends — is nourishing.

Listen to Sistren here or here.


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3. Ctrl Alt Delete

love this colour 🌷💗💕

A photo posted by Emma (@girllostincity) on

A podcast about internet culture might sound a little bit like a snake eating its own tail, but lifestyle blogger-turned-author Emma Gannon makes it human, bite-size, and fun. In her interviews with people who know what it’s like to go viral — like beauty vlogger Zoella and Wild author Cheryl Strayed — she delves into the very real power of blogs and social media to change people’s lives.

Notable episode: This conversation about freelance life, equal pay, and rape culture with writer Ashley C Ford.

Listen to Ctrl Alt Delete here.


4. It Might Just Be That

Grime MC Rival and DJ/journalist Ralph Hardy (pictured) lead roundtables on the topical stories of the day, from Birdman’s demand for respect to why Craig David was the Drake of his day. With a seemingly endless rotating cast of mates and a healthy dose of London slang, listen to this one for a distinctly British take on the headlines in grime, hip-hop, soccer, and beyond.

Notable episode: Grime DJ Logan Sama discusses his involvement in the making of Drake’s “One Dance” in the episode "Music Talk."

Listen to It Might Just Be That here.


5. Melanin Millennials

#Cheese #MelaninMagic #ThisIsElephant #MelaninMillennials

A photo posted by Satia & Imrie (@melanin_millennials) on

20-something Londoners Imrie Morgan and Satia Stark started Melanin Millennials because of the lack of black British women they saw in the mainstream media. As Morgan puts it in a bio for the show: “I’m tired of having to consume American media and news in order to see myself represented, so we created the show so that we can represent ourselves and those like us.” The result is a laughter-filled series of podcasts that mix wide-ranging discussions of mental health and race together with topical headline issues, games, and pure hilarious breeze.

Notable episode: "Crime and Bashment," in which the pair discuss Croydon clubs and unfair police clampdowns on music of black origin.

Listen to Melanin Millennials here.


6. Filler

A photo posted by Filler (@fillerpodcast) on

Filler, on the face of it, is a podcast for people interested in how to break into the creative industries, masterminded by photographer and writer Harry Hitchens, and Guardian podcaster Matt Shore. But Filler isn’t as dry as a trip to a careers advisor: it takes its shape as series of longform, laid-back interviews with young people who have found success in the media — whether that means building a major Instagram presence, writing songs, or vlogging.

Notable episode: Talking the early days of YouTube, social responsibility, and cheese, with lifestyle vlogger Arden Rose.

Listen to Filler here.


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7. Spark London

Spark London is just like the popular U.S. event and podcast The Moth (as featured on Girls) but with British accents. Like The Moth, it’s a series of sporadic events, sometimes open mic, that invite people from across the U.K. to tell their true life stories to a live audience. The podcast collects the best performances from these nights, mixing lightness, darkness, and some uncomfortable mother-in-law anecdotes.

Notable episode: Stories about first dates are nearly always juicy, especially these ones.

Listen to Spark London here.


8. Toku

Just finished recording episode 6- we discuss baby names, squeezable figures, and made up games

A photo posted by Toku Podcast (@tokupodcast) on

Holly Nielsen and Kate Gray are best friends and journalists who both specialise in video games. On their podcast Toku, they offer incisive, light-hearted critique of games, movies, and The X-Files, but also delve into their own life experiences. It’s cultural criticism with the same level of informality and snort-laughing as a chat with your best mate, which inevitably spirals into entirely different, personal topics: in fact, they once recorded a whole menstruation special.

Notable episode: The period special. Obviously.

Listen to Toku here.


9. Deliciously Stella

Deliciously Stella is a satirical spin-off of Deliciously Ella, the wildly successful (and wildly smug) U.K. healthy eating blog that spawned a clean-eating empire. Where Ella is obsessed with gluten-free, chia seed-based “wellness,” Stella (real identity: stand-up comedian Bella Younger) pays tribute to rare flavors of M&M and the joys of a rowdy trip to the pub. Though she started out simply mocking the #CleanEating trend on Instagram, Younger now uses her podcast to investigate and critique the myths upholding the diet industry through interviews, yoga classes, and some deep dives into the notoriously gross Daily Mail comments section.

Notable episode: This one, mainly for this quote: “clean eating doesn’t make you live longer, it just feels like it.”

Listen to Deliciously Stella here.


Thumbnail credit: Adam Middleton

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