Best known for this acting and presenting (as well as being a bonafide National Treasure) Stephen Fry released his first ‘Podgram’ way back in 2008! We caught up with the host of the excellent 7 Deadly Sins to discuss his love for the podcast format and the shows he adores. From issue #009 0f the Pod Bible Magazine, this is The Gospel According To… Stephen Fry.
What is it about podcasting that appeals to you?
You can be ironing, walking, driving, running, cooking, shaving, in the bath, knitting, doing a jigsaw puzzle – there are so many ways you can occupy yourself delightfully and yet with a human voice in your ear. The range of subjects too – it’s astounding. If there’s anything you’re not sure about, some detail of history, thought, science, technology, culture, sport … there’s a podcast for you.
If you could go back to before you started your show and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Relax: don’t try to broadcast – chat, be yourself. Easy does it.
What makes a great podcast host?
Warmth, ease of tone and delivery, not trying too hard.
And what about a great guest?
Honesty, openness, thoughtfulness, surprise.
What’s been your worst podcast moment so far?
My podcasts don’t involve other people – just me talking. I started a lifetime ago – literally some people’s lifetimes – and in those days I called them Blessays… a silly compound of blog and essay, with a hint of blessing. So my worst moments aren’t to do with interviews/chats with guests, they’re more to do with laziness. Not providing new content.
Is there anything you found frustrating as a podcast listener but understand now that you make your own.
Not that I can think of. The only things that frustrate me as a listener are, of course, too many commercial advertising interruptions and too much trying to be liked. But that’s true of what’s annoying in radio and TV too of course!
What episode of your podcast means the most to you?
Crumbs. I did a blessay on language and the idiocy of pedantry and so on, which I think is important. The recent series on the 7 Deadly Sins is important to me, because I think it offers a different way of looking at the problems of the world without recourse to the usual blandishments of echo chamber politics and culture on the one hand or endless reiterations of neoBuddhist mindfulness on the other. With all due respect to both brands of podcast.
Which podcasts or podcast hosts do you take inspiration from?
Those that are excited by ideas but which don’t presume to espouse any one point of view: those that embrace the ambiguities, strangeness, complexities and contradictions of our silly and wonderful world.
Finally, what are your current favourite podcasts?
No Such Thing As A Fish from my old friends the QI Elves, Alan Alda’s Clear + Vivid. Lawrence Krauss’s The Origins Podcast, Peter Adamson’s History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History. Helen Zaltzman’s The Allusionist. Anything by Jon Ronson. Homo Sapiens, which Chris Sweeney and Alan Cummings do. It’s LGBT focused but not exclusive and unmissable. Various BBC shows put out as podcasts. Friday Night Comedy, Last Word, Desert Island Discs, Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time, the Tech Tent, Books and Authors, but top of the list Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review. Just gold. And lastly, let’s not forget the magnificent Distraction Pieces from the one and only Scroobius Pip…
Stephen first started podcasting back in 2008 with the release of his popular ‘Podgrams’, a collection of his writings, speeches and collective thoughts. After a lengthy gap he returned in 2018 to release the documentary podcast series ‘Great Leap Years’ which explores the stories behind well known inventions. His most recent series 7 Deadly Sins is available now on all good podcast platforms.