WHERE TO START
Where to start with… Off Air with Jane and Fi
Our Where To Start series aims to give you a point of entry into the shows you’ve heard of, but never heard… This time, we’re recommending episodes from our coverstars Off Air with Jane & Fi!
As listeners of Off Air with Jane and Fi will testify, nothing quite compares to the much-loved duo’s wry rapport and composure while discussing everything from Downing Street shuffles to, say, the merits of a baked potato. The voices behind the eponymous Times Radio show are, of course, Jane Garvey, who presented Woman’s Hour until December 2020, and Fi Glover, the broadcaster behind The Listening Project (2012 to 2022).
Each episode begins with a familiar format: a chatty introduction from the hosts, recording shortly after they have come ‘off air’ from their live show, which runs Monday through to Thursday. This framing device allows them to debrief from the most recent live segment – they’ll comment on their most recent guests (everyone from Jamie Oliver to MPs), before listeners hear a full replay of the interview itself. Before we get to the interview (and in the episode’s closing segments afterwards), Jane & Fi typically read through some reader emails – always with amusing commentary – and discuss a mixture of domestic anecdotes, for instance the most recent Nigella Lawson recipes they’ve tried out, with some glorious digressions – plus, what’s trending on the news.
It would be totally remiss of me not to mention Fortunately… with Fi & Jane, the award-winning BBC Radio Four show and podcast that featured the powerful pairing since 2017. It hit headlines when they left the BBC for Times Radio in October last year, leaving behind their original show and its 30 million downloads. Four months in, if you’re a long listener yet to follow Fi & Jane to their new home, be reassured that Off Air has proved a popular follow-up – and these are my cherry-picked favourites from the show to help you catch up. Feast your ear lobes on the below…
Chat & Chop – with Jamie Oliver
The first-ever episode of Off Air started with a bang: the pair discuss settling into the Times Radio studio, outline the show format going forward (so this is a good gateway episode if you’re new to the show), then they are joined by Jamie Oliver, who discusses his latest book One Pot and expounds his wisdom of decades of campaigning for healthy eating for children, amid the cost-of-living crisis.
A saccharine note of journo pap – with Elizabeth Day
This episode comes fresh off the back of the controversy around then-Prime Minister Liz Truss, making for a politics-themed beginning followed by a discussion of the difficulties of starting a new job in middle-age. The highlight of this episode is guest Elizabeth Day, a fellow podcast extraordinaire and bestselling author, who as coincidence would have it has interviewed Truss on multiple occasions and shares her insights. Talking of inside scoops – I particularly enjoyed Fi & Jane’s discussion of their former fellow BBC employees’ toilet habits, together with their own ‘favourite cubicles’ at their newfound Times Radio home.
If music be the food of love, order her a Happy Meal – with Fred Sirieix
One for First Dates fans. After a chat about everything from slippery pavements to elderly parents, the pair introduce guest Fred Sirieix, the TV dating show’s charismatic maître d’ frontman, and get into an animated discussion about relationships, together with the politics of cooking for dates and significant others.
I love Nando’s mash – with Romesh Ranganathan
Actor/comedian Ranganathan, also a fellow podcaster, is the guest on this Nando’s centric episode – he tells listeners all about his spontaneous decision to get an Albanian flag tattoo, his committed love of the popular chicken franchise (and the trio open up about their go-to orders and preferred sides) and what he would do (as a former maths teacher) if he were Education Secretary for a day.
At least I’m owning my hypocrisy
This fascinating episode opens with a discussion of Joanna Lumley’s controversial comments about the #MeToo movement. Later, Jane & Fi meet Teresa Weiler, an adopted child who discovered that her biological parents were siblings – a revelation which led to her deciding not to have kids.
Fantastically successful – with Grace Dent
Some amusing reader questions – including a deep dive into an awkward supermarket scenario – begin this episode, while the highlight is food critic & broadcaster Grace Dent, who opens up about giving up alcohol and her ‘deep love’ of breakfast buffets (funeral buffets also get discussed – plus the politics of consuming a post-death vol-au-vent…)
Listen to Off Air… with Jane & Fi on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other popular podcast apps.
To learn more about Jane and Fi, thier love of podcasts, and the new show read our interview in Issue 25 of the Pod Bible Magazine now!