Life

This week’s best podcasts – including maternity discrimination, Gok Wan’s childhood and scamfluencers

Here’s our favourite podcasts of the week…

Gok Wan features on the Stirring It Up podcast
Gok Wan Gok Wan features on the Stirring It Up podcast (Lucy Ray/PA)

Do you believe in the innovation of storytelling and technology? Are you a budding entrepreneur with a great idea? This week’s podcast keeps us both educated and entertained.

Podcast of the week

1. Working Hard, Hardly Working

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Business

Grace Beverley – the 20-something entrepreneur behind activewear brand TALA, fitness app SHREDDY and The Productivity Method – has been getting into the nitty-gritty of business motivation and success since 2021 on her top-charting podcast.

The latest episode features Liverpudlian Ben Gallagher, who co-founded Luxe Collective (which sources, cleans up and sells pre-loved designer items) with his brother as a teenager, inspired by his own desire to have a luxe wardrobe on a non-luxe budget. Five years on, the business has a multi-million-pound turnover and recently secured investment from Steven Bartlett following an appearance on Dragons’ Den.

Gallagher maps out his journey from having no idea what to do after finishing school, to falling in love with second-hand shopping, and taking a punt on turning this into a business – and whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or not, this lively conversation is full of nuggets.

Gallagher explains how things really started to change for him after he watched a video by American businessman Gary Vee on the concept of ‘if you want to grow your business, you’ve got to grow yourself’.

Despite resisting at first, after getting on board with this Gallagher says he gained mental clarity, confidence and better connections. He and Beverley also dig into the importance of breaking goals down into doable steps, so you can tick off the small successes and use this to keep driving forward – rather than trying to go from zero to hero and setting yourself up for overwhelm.

The second half sees them get more into the nuts and bolts of business models and strategy, with a deep-dive into social media – particularly growing a brand on TikTok. As living proof of how effective social media marketing can be, it’s essential listening for any budding entrepreneur or brand looking to grow their social presence.

(Abi Jackson)

2. In My Opinion

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Society

In My Opinion podcast

Hosted by three friends, Uzoma, DT and Mulinde, the In My Opinion podcast has quickly become the “home of edutainment” – where listeners can be educated and entertained by their honest thoughts and opinions on a broad range of topics and dilemmas.

In their latest episode, a special one, they speak to their fourth member Letitia – who was initially on the first iteration of the podcast before becoming a mother – about how much her life has changed since having her first child, especially in regards to the new dynamics of her friendships, including the one she shares with Mulinde.

In his defence, Uzoma said: “As a good friend, when you understand that someone’s circumstances have changed, you have to adapt.” Do you agree? Letitia understood where he was coming from and assured Mulinde that there were no hard feelings, but did speak about the friendship breakups she has experienced since becoming a mother.

Just like myself, the hosts were disappointed to hear about the maternity discrimination Letitia and what so many pregnant women experience throughout their careers. It made me think about how important it is to know your rights and stand up for yourself.

I think this lesson can be applied to other areas of our lives too. In My Opinion truly lives up to its name, because I was educated and entertained at the same time.

(Yolanthé Fawehinmi)

3. Stirring It Up

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Food

stirring it up

The Stirring It Up podcast concept is simple: the Olivers invite a special guest and their plus one to gather around their kitchen table and enjoy a home-prepared feast while discussing food, culture and life.

Hosted by mother and daughter duo Andi and Miquita Oliver, the podcast is back with its third season and Gok Wan – who is a pescatarian – and Fanny McPhee – a vegetarian – come over.

With this in mind, Andi, who is also a TV presenter and chef, creates a new South American-inspired meal that isn’t vegan but suitable for both guests. It’s a recipe of pumpkin and carrot terrine, with a blood orange glaze, while Miquita makes up some delicious Bloody Marys.

But thanks to the bonus episode, listeners get to hear the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that give more context to their conversation about Wan’s early life in Leicester, drama school, his love of music, his new obsession with running, and the fantastic love and friendship between himself and McPhee.

Communal eating always finds a way of increasing social bonding – especially when a relationship has already been established – and creates a safe place for people to share more of who they are. It was beautiful to hear how their bonds grew even stronger after this conversation.

(Yolanthé Fawehinmi)

4. Scamfluencers

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Pop culture

SCAMFLUENCERS

Every week, the Scamfluencers podcast unpacks a new scam, talking about what happened and how the con was pulled off. Whether it’s a grifter you’ve heard of – like Anna Delvey or one of the Real Housewives – or someone completely new, each story is a captivating look at how far someone can actually go by blagging as hard as they can.

This week, they put the spotlight on a very modern type of scam. Jeff Carpoff had the genius idea of making portable solar generators – which became a huge hit among environmentally focused businesses and investors, while also netting Carpoff a sizeable tax credit with them.

The problem? He’s in way over his head – and has to cut more than a few corners to keep the business going, making sure he’s still getting those government tax credits.

Presenters Scaachi Koul and Sarah Hagi are skilled storytellers, making each episode a captivating listen – making you realise that people can get away with a whole lot with a bit of self-confidence and luck. But as Carpoff shows, few scams can last forever – and tend to come with a sizeable fall from grace.

(Prudence Wade)

Spotlight on…

5. Jack Whitehall’s Safe Space

Streaming platform: Audible

Genre: Entertainment

Four blank puzzle pieces. One of them disconnected. Isolated on a white background-
Four blank puzzle pieces. One of them disconnected. Isolated on a white background- Four blank puzzle pieces. One of them disconnected. Isolated on a white background- (JoKMedia/Getty Images)

Stand-up comedian and actor Jack Whitehall is no stranger to awkward moments, having built his career on sharing his toe-curling experiences, so he’s the perfect host for Safe Space, back for a new series as he and best friend, comedy writer James Serafinowicz, invite a range of celebrity guests into the ‘safe space’ to fess up on their most humiliating, awkward tales from their past, and in doing so, hopefully feel better about themselves as they analyse their actions.

Whether you’re a fan of Whitehall or not, I defy you not to laugh out loud as he teases cringe tales out of his guests. Unsurprisingly, many of Whitehall’s guests are comedians, who are more than happy to unpack their capacity for embarrassment.

From Bad Education actor Charlie Wernham’s excruciating trip to an sexual health clinic, broadcaster Nick Grimshaw on boring Rihanna in a bar, to comedian Sara Pascoe thinking her life was over aged 14 when a so-called friend at school started a vicious rumour about her toilet habits (‘it was to distract from the rumour that she had mouldy boobs’), it’s full of mortifying celeb encounters, disastrous dates, drunken nights out and hideous social faux pas.

But comedian London Hughes has a refreshingly different relationship with embarrassment. ‘There’s no point in me being in a safe space. I have never cringed over something I said. It is a British thing to feel shame, I have American energy and attitude.’ Food for thought.

Most of the tales are guaranteed to make you feel better about your own actions – and if you’re in need of a laugh, this podcast is for you.

(By Caroline Duggan)

6. The Gatekeepers

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Technology

The Gatekeepers artwork (1)

For BBC Radio 4’s host Jamie Bartlett, something strange has been happening online for years, but most of us have no idea what’s going on.

In The Gatekeepers, a BBC Sounds podcast, Bartlett takes a deep dive into the heart of Silicon Valley to tell the story about who really has power in our online space.

At the start, entrepreneurs who worked in Silicon Valley thought they would be able to democratise communication for all through their social media platforms. But in giving the power to online users, what happened wasn’t as they had expected.

Today, life is shaped by what we see online. It was fascinating to hear all that Bartlett discovered through speaking to some of the pioneers of social media and Silicon Valley. If you are into the innovation of technology, then this podcast will be a treat.

(Yolanthé Fawehinmi)