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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO… Abby Hollick from Duvet Days


THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO… Abby Hollick from Duvet Days

For World Mental Health Day 2022 we’re uplifting some of the great podcasts about mental health that we’ve spoken to over the years. First off, we’re revisiting our interview with Abby Hollick from Duvet Days – one of the first podcasts released by BBC Sounds. This article was first published in July 2019.

Ever fancied jumping into bed for a duvet day with a celebrity? You’d get to find out what their bedroom looks like, what pulls them under the duvet, their weird sleep habits and how they got out of bed during the tough times.

In Duvet Days, Abby Hollick jumps into bed with special guests for unfiltered, honest chat. You can listen in as musicians and artists open up about mental health, fame, recovery, childhood and relationships. In this longform interview series, Abby discusses what a ‘duvet day’ means to Emeli Sande, Munroe Bergdorf, Nicola Coughlan, Joel Golby, Camilla Thurlow, Yrsa Daley-Ward, Yola, Rosie Jones, Laura Dockrill, Hannah Cockroft, Lemn Sissay and Ray BLK.

The podcast has recently returned for series 2 so we sat down with Abby to ask her a few questions…

What is it about podcasts that appeals to you?

A mate in your ear. It’s company on a long journey or while I’m in the bath. I also love learning more about people I admire and investigating how our minds work – using podcasts as free therapy basically! Podcasts are also a chance for the world to hear stories from people who have been silenced or ignored for too long.

If you could go back to just before you recorded the first episode of your podcast and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Don’t record for hours as you have to edit this Abby! Also, It’s ok to say ‘sorry my arm has gone dead I just need to put the mic in the other hand’! For some reason I was embarrassed to say this and would stay fixed in this painful, rigid position.

Abby with Paralympian Hannah Cockroft

What makes a great podcast guest?

Funny, vulnerable, open and hopefully saying something for the first time. Someone who says it like it is and is a bit of a maverick or someone who has survived something extraordinary and has some wisdom on how to do life and cope. Also, guests whose stories and experiences have been shut out of mainstream radio for too long.

What makes a great podcast host?

A woman! I was desperate to hear more women, back in the day the longform interview podcast was dominated by men but thankfully that’s changed. I want to think the host is my friend, so a good listener and someone who asks insightful follow-up questions. I’m not surprised so many comedians have podcasts as a funny host with outrageous anecdotes is always a laugh and you want to be in the pub with them.

What’s been your worst podcast moment?

I mean I live in fear of not pressing record. When I flew to Ireland to interview Nicola Coughlan I made her tell me she could see the red light and I had pressed record before we started, as I couldn’t go all the way to Galway and mess up! I’ve definitely had tough moments when I’ve asked questions and been told ‘I don’t want to go there’ and felt like I was being too intrusive but I just apologise and say fair enough. I’m not going to stop asking the questions I think listeners want to hear.

What is your podcast/podcaster pet peeve?

It annoys me that I can’t listen to podcasts when I am editing my own podcast as I feel podcasted out. Also I say ‘so’ a lot which irritates me when I edit myself. Its also a peeve if a group of friends on a podcast all talk over each other and share ‘in-jokes’ and I feel left out.

Is there anything you found annoying as a podcast listener… but then understood when you started making your own?

I used to think ‘why didn’t the host ask this or follow-up on that?’ but when you’re in the hot seat and being the interviewer your mind can go blank or you can worry about the time pressure, your battery power etc and you can make these mistakes so I am now less judgmental as a listener. Kirsty Young is the queen of the follow-up!

Previous guest Emeli Sandé

Which one podcast episode of your own means the most to you?

It means a lot when anyone says yes to be honest as they are trusting me to sit on their bed and chat about such personal stuff but I am really proud of Laura Dockrill’s episode as she was so open about suffering from postnatal psychosis, recovery and CBT therapy. I was extremely moved by her and full of admiration and I think it’s one of the most extraordinary descriptions of a mind exploding and then she pieces it back together again. Also, she’s hilarious and our babies were born around the same time. Both her and Joel Golby, whose parents died by the time he was 25, don’t feel sorry for themselves at all and use humour to explain really traumatic things, I loved meeting them. It was also huge for me to interview Christine and the Queens the day after her gig as I am such a fan and that gig blew my mind, I went with a friend who didn’t know her and we both left shaking – her dancing is out of this world!

Which one podcast episode (not of your own) has had the biggest impact on you?

One?! Ok out of Maya Angelou on Oprah’s podcast, Robin Williams on WTF with Marc Maron, Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on the New York Public Library, Aisling Bea on Griefcast, Zadie Smith on Adam Buxton and Toure Show (can you tell I love Zadie Smith) and Ellen Burstyn on Death Sex and Money I am going to go with Ellen Burstyn’s ‘Lessons on Survival’.

Finally, what are your plans for the podcast moving forward?

Ooh that’s a question for BBC Sounds! Season 3 hopefully as I’m hitting my stride now and I’d love to interview Lizzo. And Michaela Coel and Jill Soloway.

Listen to the Duvet Days archive on BBC Sounds, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other popular podcast apps.

Read our other World Mental Health Day 2022 suggested posts.

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