When the first episode of Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s BBC Radio 5 Live film review show went out in 2005, it was barely a year since the word ‘podcast’ had been coined. The Oxford English Dictionary picked it as the word of the year in 2005. The runner-up coinages point to the other things English speakers were encountering for the first time back then. ‘Sudoku’. ‘IED’. ‘Bird flu’.
The alternative name for their show – Wittertainment – has yet to trouble the OED. But the duo have been part of the podcasting furniture for so long it’s easy to forget exactly how important they’ve been to making podcasts feel like something important and useful.
That first episode was downloaded 42 times. Since then, the duo have been reliably among the most-downloaded podcast hosts of them all in the UK, and returned to the top of the podcasting charts with their shiny new Sony show Kermode and Mayo’s Take. With plush new digs, a big neon sign and crisp HD clips ready for YouTube, it feels like right at home in the podcast landscape in 2022.
But so much remains the same from the BBC days: running jokes which nobody can quite remember the origins of, rants against unworthy films from Kermode, perceptive interviewing and occasional sly digs from Mayo, and a bulging mailbag of thoughtful, enlightened views about films old and new from the listeners.
Here’s a primer to get you going.
Kermode and Mayo’s Take: Tom Hiddleston
The first edition of the new show began just as their first show on 5 Live did in 2001 following their first shows together on Radio 1: with Kermode jabbing a finger and picking up as if nothing had happened with, “And another thing…” New features abound, but the good natured bickering and the revelatory correspondence abides. First guest Tom Hiddleston, on to chat about The Essex Serpent, began with a gushing tribute to the show and its hosts. The old smoothie. Listen now on Apple Podcasts >>
Kermode and Mayo’s Take: Tom Hanks
For some years now, the Wittertainment lodestar has been Tom Hanks, America’s dad and all-round voice of sanity and goodness. His most recent chat with with Mayo saw him on typically ebullient form, talking up the tacky appeal of his Colonel Tom Parker in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic and reassuring us – in acknowledgement of one of many longstanding Wittertainment catchphrases – that everything will, in fact, be alright in the end. Listen now on Apple Podcasts >>
Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review: Chadwick Boseman
Given how simple he makes it sound, it’s easy to forget quite how adept an interviewer Mayo is, and how adroitly he can draw stories and opinions out of pretty much any guest. (A truculent Charlie Kaufman was a notable exception.) Best of all was an extraordinarily thoughtful response from Chadwick Boseman to Martin Scorsese’s dismissal of Marvel’s cinematic credentials. Far from being lightweight, Boseman said, Black Panther tapped into anxieties among black Americans. “We felt that angst, we felt that danger from cinema when we watched it,” he said. “And maybe Scorsese didn’t get that when he watched it. That’s generational. That’s cultural. I’m secure in what we did.” Listen now on Apple Podcasts >>
Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review: Sex and the City 2
A Kermodian rant against a film which has failed dismally is one of nature’s great events, and catching one live on the BBC show felt like seeing the Northern Lights or watching a blue whale breach from the sea in front of a perfect sunset. Kermode’s 2010 review of the SATC sequel is perhaps the definitive, Platonic form. “You’re not gonna get a rant about this,” Kermode says at the outset. Seven minutes later, he’s singing The Internationale and has declared its central characters “imperialist American pig-dogs of the highest order”. Beautiful stuff. Listen now on Apple Podcasts >>
To learn more about Mayo and Kermode, their love of podcasts, and their new show, read our interview in Issue 22 of the Pod Bible Magazine now!