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The 10 most popular podcasts in the UK

What are the most popular podcasts in the UK? Here are the top 10 podcasts at the moment

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The 10 most popular podcasts in the UK

The official British singles chart turned 70 recently, and while we’re all obviously delighted for that venerable institution to celebrate its Platinum Jubilee it should probably be looking over its shoulder. There’s another numerical ranking which might one day overtake it as the barometer of exactly what the nation is thinking about and feeling: the podcast charts.

There are a few different podcast charts around, and they all seem to have slightly different ideas of what’s popular and who’s going, as Smash Hits used to put it, down the dumper. We’re going by the Apple Podcasts chart, and this is just a snapshot of things as they stand in December 2022. That said, there’s a fair few instant hits which have clamped themselves to the upper reaches of the charts just in the second half of this year, and look difficult to dislodge.

The Diary of a CEO

Part business heavyweight, part new age sage, all podcast behemoth, Dragons’ Den’s Steven Bartlett is Britain’s highest profile example of a very 2020s archetype: the CEO who’s almost as much a spiritual leader as someone who knows how to stick a business together. His podcast is all about finding that thing every business leader with their LinkedIn recommendations likes to talk about now, purpose, with the help of guests who’ve been down to the bottom as well as up at the top, much like him. Listen now >>

The Rest is Politics

One of the many unexpected narrative turns of British politics in the last few years is the rebirth of Alastair Campbell and Rory Stewart as centrist dads with a runaway hit podcast reflecting on domestic and international politics twice a week. Originally pitched as a classic odd couple dynamic – Campbell the trenchant Labour scrapper, Stewart the old Etonian liberal Tory – the reason it works is actually that they realise they’re so similar, and happy to do what they call ‘disagreeing agreeably’. They’re both fuming with the government, for one thing, and both good at taking a global view on the news. Listen now >>

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Wake

Kathy Burke is a national treasure, and – weirdly for someone who says she doesn’t listen to any podcasts – her brand new one where she chats to comedians about exactly how they’d like to face their final curtain is the platform a lot of us have been waiting for her to be handed. She’s working her way into it, and it can feel like the format’s a bit too restrictive at times, but her irreverence and the fact her guests clearly love her to bits have made it a strong start. Listen now >>

The News Agents

BBC heavyweights Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall all left the corporation earlier this year to lead Global’s banner current affairs pod, and even this early on in proceedings it looks like the gamble’s paying off. Through the late Johnson collapse, the Tory leadership scramble, the Truss interregnum and the Sunak ultimatum, they’ve been around Westminster and the party conferences reporting with authority and confidence. Listen now >>

The Rest is History

The other big hit in the Goalhangers production house stable sees historians Dominic Sandbrook and Tom Holland (not that one) digging through corners of history both familiar and obscure, and also using it as a means to look at current affairs with a longer view than most other podcasts tend to take. A recent series of World Cup-themed specials which dive deep into a slice of a competing nation’s history have been particularly good. Listen now >>

NearlyWeds

These days Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing is in and out of podcast studios more often than he’s in and out of those odd MIC bits where they happen to bump into each other off the King’s Road, and he and his fiancée Sophie Habboo’s has stuck around at the top of the charts for most of the year. It’s all about wedding advice: what to do, and, more often than not, what not to do. Very funny stuff. Listen now >>

The Guardian Football Weekly

A rotating cast of guests join Max Rushden and curmudgeonly Guardian sports writer Barry Glendenning three times a week to pick over the bones of the week’s footballing action from the Premier League to the rest of Europe and beyond. This was the original sports podcast, an institution which started out back in 2006 and formed what a lot of the sports pods which followed would strive to be: packed with insight from leading journalists, an eye on the global game, and never too serious. Listen now >>

Off Menu

You know your podcast is doing quite well when you collab with a menswear brand on a run of tie-in t-shirts. Ed Gamble and James Acaster’s food pod is that kind of big, and you can see its popularity in the rash of podcasts where guests think up a fantasy thing: festival line-up, film screenings, that sort of thing. But Off Menu still does it best, and draws on guests as varied as Stanley Tucci, Rina Sawayama, Ed Sheeran and Rylan – plus Rylan’s mum, who called in during their recording because she was worried he’d died. Listen now >>

Empire

Why do empires rise, and how do they start to fall apart? How do they change the people and places which they absorb – peacefully and violently – and what is left in the wreckage when they’re gone? The first season of William Dalrymple and Anita Anand’s podcast explored Britain’s colonisation of India in the kind of detail that makes you look afresh at the country we see today, however much you know about it already. The second focuses on the Ottoman Empire. Listen now >>

Huberman Lab

There are a lot of popular science pods out there which connect the latest research with digestible take-homes that are going to improve your everyday life, and Huberman Lab does exactly that with psychology and behavioural studies. The Huberman with his name above the door is Andrew Huberman, a neurobiology professor at Stanford with a manner that’s in the sweet spot between engaging and intense. Listen now >>

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