393. OPP: Other People’s Podcasts (Part 3)

In this episode I’m going to recommend some other people’s podcasts. I have done this before – twice in fact. I did two episodes called OPP (Parts 1 & 2) Last time, in episodes 236 and 237 I recommended some of my favourite podcasts that I like to listen to when I’m out and about with my headphones on. I recommended a mix of British and American podcasts. In this episode I’m going to tell you about some more but we’re focusing only on British podcasts this time – ones that are produced in the UK and on which you can listen to British voices.

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Previous OPP Episodes (Parts 1 & 2)

236. OPP: Other People’s Podcasts (Part 1)

237. OPP: Other People’s Podcasts (Part 2)

Sharing is caring ;)

Perhaps I shouldn’t be doing this, because like a jealous boyfriend I don’t want you looking at anyone or spending any time with anyone other than me! But then again my desire to share my favourite podcasts is just too great, and I can’t help letting you know which podcasts have been filling my iPhone in recent months. I love listening to podcasts. I genuinely think the podcast as an invention is one of the greatest things in the universe. It’s amazing that we can get all this really interesting audio, completely free and it’s conveniently stored in your pocket and available whenever you want it. It’s different to video because you can listen to it while you’re doing other things, especially travelling around or doing menial tasks like housework. I just really want you to enjoy some of the shows that I enjoy listening to.

These are podcasts for native speakers

This is not a selection of podcasts for learners of English – I’m sure you know about them. As well as LEP there are some very well-known and popular podcasts out there these days. Nope, this is a list of podcasts made by native speakers, for native speakers – although obviously you can listen too. The main thing is that these podcasts are not about learning English or for learning English, they’re about other things: films, science, comedy, in-depth conversation, history and more.

So, they might be difficult to understand

There are some barriers to your enjoyment of these podcasts. The general language level might be rather high. Also these podcasts exist within a culture that you’re probably not that familiar with – and that’s basically British culture, certainly in relation to British comedy, politics and the general mindset of life in the UK. The people in these podcasts will often be talking about stuff that you’re not familiar with, like local British events, British TV, news, political events or pop culture and so on.

But maybe this is exactly what you’re looking for

Then again, those may be the exact reasons why these podcasts will appeal to you. Perhaps you want the authentic British stuff. I know that some of you really want to listen to British people speaking at natural speed about British things.

It’s good for your English

As I said in my recent episode about breaking the intermediate plateau, it’s very important that you listen to things like this, in order to get exposed to normal authentic English. I have said it before and I’ll say it again – it’s important to listen to a mix of content you can understand without too much trouble – like episodes in which I talk on my own in my naturally clear voice, and content which is more challenging, like these podcasts for native speakers. I do try to cover that in my podcast by presenting you with some content that is not too difficult to follow, and some stuff which is more difficult – such as the interviews and conversations I have with various native speakers.

But, if you want some more challenging listening practice beyond the interviews on my podcast – here are some suggestions from me to you.

Also, these podcasts might not be your cup of tea, but there’s only one way to find out – just listen to them and see for yourselves.

So, without any further ado, let’s look at some of my favourite podcasts.

A reminder of some from last time

First, a reminder of some of my selection from last time (British ones)

Adam & Joe No longer running, but many of the episodes are still available here www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02l57gq/episodes/downloads 

Desert Island Discs (UK) Long-running interview show – a national institution! http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qnmr 

Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo’s Film Review (UK) The BBC’s flagship film review show, and also my favourite podcast of all time – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lvdrj/episodes/downloads 

Acast – www.acast.com

It’s a good app for listening to podcasts on your smartphone. It’s free and you can either download within the app or stream episodes. Other apps are available.

The Allusionist

Helen Zaltzman is an etymologist and historian, specialising in the history of language and specifically words. But this isn’t a boring history podcast. Her episodes are bright, witty and very relevant to the modern world. They’re often fascinating and full of interesting factoids about the way language works.

Helen is the sister of Bugle podcaster Andy Zaltzman, and she is also very funny and clever, like Andy. In fact, she comes across as being both adorable and brilliant. She’s a very charming presenter.

The episodes are very well-prepared with plenty of research done beforehand. These episodes are not rambling conversations but cleverly edited mini-documentaries about aspects of language. You can learn lots of bits and pieces about etymology (origins of words) and also various cultural aspects of how languages work. Also, Helen is very witty and clever.

The Adam Buxton Podcast

Adam Buxton is a huge underground hit in terms of podcasting. In fact, he’s not really underground at all, more alternative. I mean, he’s not a big success with a mainstream audience but the people who listen to his podcasts are very dedicated and he has a very loyal following.

Episodes usually begin with Adam walking in the countryside near his house with his dog Rosie (who he sometimes gives a voice). Then we listen to a conversation between Adam and a guest.

Why do I like it? Adam – he’s a sweet and lovely guy, he’s funny, I feel like he’s one of my people, his jingles are brilliant, the conversations are just interesting and they often cover curious topics like social behaviour, personal fears and motivations and more.

Adam calls the Jaffa Cakes hotline

Continues in part 4…


  • Hiro

    Hi Luke,
    Thank you for sharing your favorite podcasts. I tried every one of them, and The Allusionist is my cup of tea! The stylish jingle, Helen’s charming voice, a lot of references, …..besides, each episode has complete transcript! This is a very useful podcast for learners of English.

  • Ptholome

    People you can read a copy of the episode 393 here:


    The Orion LEP transcription team.

  • Catherine Bear

    Luke, in the episode “With Amy Adams” (Nov 11th) Mark Kermodo and Simon Mayo were speaking about “Czechoslovakia” (00:16:13) — that there people would refer to cinema a “bioscope”. Were they kidding using the obsolet name “Czechoslovakia”, or do they mean it? I’m a bit confused now… Thanks for clearance. C.

  • lukasz

    Hi Luke – I have been listening to some of the episodes of The Allusionist Podcast for the last three days and it is really a great stuff. It is a high quality podcast, really well prepared. Helen Zaltzman has a lovely voice to listen to and what is more important she talks about things that we usually take for granted and do not pay attention so much but they can be really fascinating. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Catherine Bear

    Yesterday, I was listening to Kermode & Mayo’s Film Review podcast. To the new episode with Benedict Cumberbatch.
    I’ve only listened to one episode, but I’m already loving it!!! :)
    Luke, thank you so much for the tip.

    • Nick

      Just today I went to see a new film with him, but I liked him more in Star Trek. And he looks a bit older :(

  • Ptholome

    Hi LEPsters: the Doc of the episode 393 is available to be transcribed. Ninja or not you must try to collaborate in this important project.
    I have divided the episode in chunks 3 min long, so you can try 3min or more if you feel great doing it. We are helping Luke and his LEPsters and ourselves. :)


  • Catherine Bear

    Hi Alex,

    Sounds right up my alley. I’ll be one of the Mr Rick Thompsons true listeners there.

    Have you majored in Latin? You appear on your picture like a really modern guy, working for Google or Apple or something. So, you are fond of the Ancient Rome? That’s interesting!

    Do you speak Roman languages then? I tried to learn an artificial language (called Esperanto) back in my Siberian taiga, to be able to communicate with the world (the socialistic world at that time, of course – hinter dem eisernen Vorhang). It turned out to be useful, when I had to learn Latin at the university. I’ve forgotten everything by now, of course.

    Are you going to be a school Latin teacher then? Or do you want to be a scholar? In my son’s school, there is no Latin, just English and Spanish/or/French. But I know, many German schools have got Latin and also Ancient Greek. Which I think is fantastic.

    Take care and enjoy your studies. :)

  • Catherine Bear

    Hi Luke!

    Thank you for these great tips.

    As a former historical linguist, I find the Allusionist podcast quite interesting. Because I am interested in the roots of the words, in how the words change their meaning in the course of the time and stuff like that. So, thank you for this tip! :)

    And never mind the running away of some LEPsters. They definitely will come back, after they have realised, how good you really are. ;) Sometimes one has to compare in order to get a real appreciation of the things one has. So dont’ be worried. :)


    • Dmitry

      Hi Catherine!

      Just passed through and decided to walk out of shadow and leave my first comment here. So now I lost my LEP Ninja title:)

      If you’ve found The Allusionist interesting, then I want to recommend you some podcasts from my list of favorites: it’s Lexicon Valley (www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/lexicon_valley.html) and Grammar Girl (www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl) (though it’s not only about grammar).


      • Catherine Bear

        Hi Dmitry,

        Congratulations on your first comment! :)

        Wow, what wonderful podcasts you’ve recommended here. Thank you!
        I’ve started to the Lexicon Valley’s episode on the Nursery Rhymes (Hickory dickory dock…) right now, sounds lovely.

        Also Grammar Girl looks nice. She’s got loads of awards I see. Well, now for the US podcasts then, from both coasts. :)

        Take care and keep commenting. How long have you been in the shadows then? Did you enjoy being on the sunny side now? ;)


      • Dmitry

        Thanks, Cat! I’m glad that you enjoy those podcasts:)

        I’ve listened Luke for 1.5 – 2 years I suppose… It’s great here on the bright side:)

      • Welcome into the light my friend. www.youtube.com/watch?v=535Zy_rf4NU

      • Dmitry

        Thanks Luke, it’s great to be here!

      • Catherine Bear

        Hi Dmitry,
        Yes it is heartwarming, is it not? :)
        I’ve been here exactly two months now. It seems sooo long. I cannot imagine the world without the LEPstars now. ;)
        Take care, looking forward to your new posts. I’m sure you’ve built up a lot in your mind in the last two years. :)