Best podcasts of the week: Nicola Coughlan’s corking comedy

The Bridgerton star joins forces with Camilla Whitehill for a glorious send-up of rural Ireland. Plus: an absorbing investigation in Mississippi Goddam, and Esther Perel returns

Picks of the week

Whistle Through the Shamrocks (from 1 Nov)
Nicola Coughlan teams up with Camilla Whitehill for a glorious comedy podcast that exploits all the Brit-bashing, potato-munching cliches of rural Ireland. While waiting for a call from supposed star guest Andrew Scott, Coughlan and an all-star cast (Susan Wokoma, Ed Gamble) tell the tale of a hard-working family whose simple chip-making lives are shattered by a greedy lord. All this, and Jonathan Van Ness as a banshee.
Hannah Verdier

Am I Normal? With Mona Chalabi
Can you use spreadsheets to answer life’s questions, from “How many friends do I need?” to “Why are we so obsessed with women’s fertility?” Data journalist (and Guardian US data editor) Mona Chalabi has all the figures she needs in this TED podcast, but the magic comes when the messiness of life gets in the way – particularly when she talks about her hatred of her ex’s shoes. HV

Yours Sincerely, With Jess Phillips
Like it or not, politicians doing podcasts is a thing, and Jess Phillips has become a regular in the recording suite. Led by the grief she observed during the pandemic, the Labour MP decided to ask guests about the three letters they would write to people in their lives, should anything happen to them. Morbid, perhaps, but it actually makes for tender, uplifting listening. Guests include Deborah Frances-White, Benjamin Zephaniah and Charly Cox.
Hollie Richardson

Mississippi Goddam
From the Peabody award-winning Reveal, this powerful series focuses on Billey Joe Johnson Jr, a black high-school American footballer who was shot in the head after being pulled over by the police in 2008. Was his death a suicide, an accident or something else? An absorbing investigation.
Hannah J Davies

Offline With Jon Favreau
The former Obama speechwriter and Pod Save America co-host Favreau examines how being online – namely “scrolling without a reason ... is this healthy?” – shapes our lives in his insightful new series. First guest – Trick Mirror author Jia Tolentino. HJD

Producer pick: Philosophize This!

Philosophize This covers the big names, among them Aristotle.
Philosophize This covers the big names, among them Aristotle. Photograph: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Chosen by Elena Morresi

It is addictive and educational, but mainly I started listening to Philosophize This! because I found it comforting.

Host Stephen West explains the history of philosophy, covering all the big names – from Aristotle to Marx – and all the big topics: ethics, existence, love. Philosophy was a core subject in my Italian state school, and the series takes me back to simpler times in my favourite teacher’s classroom.

But if you didn’t learn philosophy, you can now. Relax into an episode, don’t get scared when words like ‘epistemology’ are bandied around, and just wait for West to say ‘and that means’ followed by a great example. It’s like physio for the mind.

My advice: pick an episode on a topic you are interested in right now, be it love, power or failure. Someone will have philosophised about it – and their thoughts might just comfort you.

Talking points

  • If the Esther Perel-a-like therapist in season three of You hasn’t quite hit the spot, the real Esther is back with a new series of her hit relationship therapy podcast. In the fifth run of Where Should We Begin?, Perel meets more couples in crisis – dealing with loss, polyamory, infidelity, sexuality and more – as she attempts to untie their “Gordian knots”.

  • Why not try: Treat | Believe Her | Curious Creatures

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Contributors

Hannah Verdier, Hollie Richardson, Hannah J Davies and Elena Morresi

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