In Brief

Podcasts of the Week: from Danny Dyer to French & Saunders

Sometimes all you want from a podcast is light relief and silliness

Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French: light relief and silliness

There are “big bucks” to be earned from podcasts these days, said Fiona Sturges in the FT – and increasingly it is celebrities with millions of Instagram followers who top the podcast charts. The latest celebs to cash in on the boom are EastEnders actor Danny Dyer and his 21-year-old daughter, the reality TV star Dani. In Sorted with the Dyers, their new advice podcast from Spotify, the pair do little more than “pop to their garden annex, read out some emails and chat about family life”. But here’s the strange thing: it’s great. Danny makes a wonderfully no-nonsense agony uncle, while Dani “plays the soft-hearted foil, expressing love and sympathy for their correspondents, however daft their problems”. You might not “rely on them if your life was falling apart”, but the Dyers are warm and funny, and they make great company. 

For something far more serious and expert, try the psychotherapist Philippa Perry’s Families in Crisis from Audible, said James Marriott in The Times. I came to it having just read Perry’s “brilliant” graphic novel about a kleptomaniac barrister in therapy, and was hoping to find her podcast just as “comfortably diverting”. But while it is certainly gripping, it is not at all comfortable. The episodes I listened to tackled anorexia, heroin addiction, alcoholism and the challenges involved in adopting traumatised children. “At times I found myself scrabbling to hit pause because it was all getting too horrible.” But when I could “bear to listen, I was thoroughly compelled”. My tip: if you “can’t take too much horrible”, listen to the anorexia and adoption episodes first. “Both offer glimmers of hope.” 

In a year that has presented great challenges and stresses for many of us, sometimes all you want from a podcast is light relief and silliness, said Hannah Verdier in The Guardian. French & Saunders: Titting About provides both those things in spades. It’s a funny, mischievous, uplifting podcast from Audible that Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders bill as “two fat old women using strong language and adult content”. In it, the comic duo chat about topics ranging from sex education to the seven deadly sins. I found listening to them discuss such inconsequential subjects as organising their diaries or “trying to blag double school dinners” to be “a joy”. And the finale, in which they “imagine creating a parody of Fleabag and Killing Eve with Kathy Burke, should be a new show in itself”.

Also recommended is Timeghost, in which comedians Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller pose as “cultural commentators” Martin Bain-Jones and Craig Children, giving their “buttoned-up take on the hot topics of the moment”.

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