It is a truth universally acknowledged that podcasts are slowly taking over the world.
Back in 2018 I wrote two posts (here and here) about the history podcasts that had me hooked. As podcasts have continued to grow in popularity, its only natural that a few new players have entered on to the history podcast scene.
So, what am I listening to at the moment? Here’s my pick of the best new history podcasts from the past year.
You’re Dead To Me only started in September 2019, but has quickly become one of the most popular history podcasts out there. Created by Horrible Histories‘ chief nerd Greg Jenner, it’s a podcast that combines comedy and history, and is aimed at people who hated the subject at school.
The format is simple. Greg is the host, and is joined in each episode by both an expert historian and comedian to discuss an historical topic. Greg starts by summarising what most people know about the subject, before everyone has a nice, long chat about it. Then there’s ‘The Nuance Window’ – where the historian gets to go full on history geek for 2 minutes. The podcast then ends with a quick fire quiz to see what the comedian has remembered.
It seems to be a winning format and I can’t wait for the next series!
There are two main reasons why I love this podcast. Firstly – for the pop culture twist. At the end of every episode the host recommends what books, films and TV you can go to to learn more about the historical person discussed in the podcast. I think its a great idea as many people are introduced to historical personalities through film and TV.
Secondly, I love the way the host JT Siems has structured her podcast series. You start with one main episode about the historical personality, but there are also ‘Storical Footnotes’ episodes which explore specific elements of that person’s life. Depending on how interested you are in that person or how much time you have you can listen to all or just pick the ones that interest you.
There are soooo many podcasts out there focusing on women’s history. I’m not complaining – but many do follow the same format and talk about the same women. Many lack that necessary USP. And that makes me switch off. It’s therefore a testament to Ann Foster, creator of Vulgar History, that her podcast has kept me listening!
Vulgar History is described as ‘a feminist women’s history comedy podcast about the scandalicious stories of people from olden times’. Its the scandalicious part that has me hooked. Instead of revisiting the same old characters from history Ann talks about females I truly haven’t heard about before, who lead such interesting lives.
4. Noble Blood
This new podcast explores the stories of some of history’s most fascinating royals – ‘the tyrants and the tragic, the murderers and the murdered, and everyone in between’. Given its from the creators of renowned podcasts Lore and A Cabinet of Curiosities, its no surprise Noble Blood is also a smash hit.
The strength of this podcast is undoubtedly its storytelling. Writer and host Dana Schwartz creates such an engrossing and dramatic narrative that easily ensnares listeners, accompanied by brooding melodies. Even the titles of the episodes capture your imagination – the last one I listened to was ‘The Swan King Went Mad’.
5. Past Matters
I am so pleased to feature this podcast in my list. Past Matters is a history podcast from Ploy Radford, history-loving journalist and member of the History Girls community over on Instagram.
The concept is simple but effective. Museums and historic houses are full of amazing objects from the past – but how easy is it to unknowingly just walk straight past an object with an incredible story to tell? Ploy talks to the experts at these different sites about the most underrated objects in their collection. The stories and facts she unearths in the process are often mind-blowing.
The concept of Hidden Histories is similar to that of Past Matters – but instead of exploring the past via an object, historian Helen Carr explores it via some of the amazing historical sites this country has to offer.
For many people their regular interaction with history may come from their weekend walk at their local National Trust property. Its places like these that provide a great opportunity to make a wider audience interested in history, and a podcast like this is just the thing to deepen their understanding and get them hooked on the past.
Have you listened to any of these podcasts yet? Which one floated your boat? Or are there any new history podcasts I have missed? Let me know in the comments below.