Nearly six million people listen to podcasts in the UK, and its growing every day. I have a couple of theories why podcasts, especially history podcasts, are gaining traction all the time.
Firstly, I think the obvious reasons why people listen to podcasts is to learn something new about a subject they’re interested in. I also think the amount of bad news we see on the TV and hear on the radio has honestly put a lot of people off news and current affairs.
Lastly, us humans love stories. Podcasts are just the modern version of people sitting around a campfire sharing stories. And history is just full of amazing stories waiting to be shared. To discover some of these stories, check out my second post on the top history podcasts out there (P.S. Check out my first post on top history podcasts here).
You Must Remember This is a podcast dedicated to exploring the secret and forgotten histories of Hollywood’s golden age. The Guardian describes it as ‘a dreamy mix of film noir voiceover, 1940s gossip column and Pathe news broadcast’. However you choose to describe it, it is completely addictive.
The podcast is written, produced and hosted by Karina Longworth. It is immaculately well-researched. The show’s website is also really good and contains show notes, including research sources, information about special guests and even the music if you want to learn more. For all these reasons, I’m really looking forward to Karina’s forthcoming book Seduction: Sex, Lies and Stardom in Howard Hughes’ Hollywood.
I simply LOVE this new discovery of mine. Gallus Girls and Wayward Women is a podcast all about the naughty and notorius women from history (because they’re so much more fun to learn about, right?). Favourite episodes to date include the ones about King Charles II’s many mistresses, including Nell Gwyn and Barbara Villers.
I also love the chemistry between the two presenters, artist Donna McGlynn and actor Tom Freeman – they have some right banter going on! Donna provides the historical detail and Tom provides the laughs. Their effervescence makes you realise how many podcast presenters lack that special something.
This podcast – all about the accuracy of historical films and their costumes – should come with an explicit content warning. Hosts Trystan L. Bass, Sarah Lorraine, and Kendra Van Cleave drink and swear their way through analysing films and frankly tearing them to shreds, and tbh I LOVE IT! This is exactly like what I am like at home after a few glasses of wine on a Saturday night!
The only (slight) criticism I have is, as a British listener, sometimes there are American cultural references I just don’t get. But that’s a small criticism of an otherwise great podcast.
Dress: Fancy explores the popularity, prevalence and power of fancy dress. It is hosted by Lucy Clayton and cultural historian Dr Benjamin Wild, and looks at the social significance and psychology of people in costume.
Episodes consider why fancy dress has been a constant theme throughout history; sometimes as an act of celebration or escapism, on other occasions as a form of protest or disruption. Some episodes have more historical content than others, so not all of them may appeal to hardcore history buffs.
I particularly like the episodes they do about famous balls from history, including the Devonshire House Ball and the Romanov’s Costume Ball of 1903.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you will know I am a big fan of all things spooky and paranormal. I therefore adore the Dark Histories podcast, written and produced by Ben, a hair stylist from Brighton.
Dark Histories is a recent discovery of mine so I have an extensive back catalogue to work through. The podcast explores famous mysteries in an interesting and entertaining way, all the while being as accurate as possible and rooting the mysteries in the available evidence. That’s why I think I like this podcast so much – it explores topics that could easily veer into speculation and fabrications but with an historian’s analytic eye.
What are your top history podcasts to listen to? Are there any you think I should be subscribing too?