The 7 Best BBC Podcasts

The Best BBC Podcasts 2024

The BBC has been a radio institution since 1922. In the last decade, it has kept up with the podcast boom by syndicating its most popular shows into longer formats on their BBC Sounds app. But recently, the BBC has started commissioning podcasts as original content. They have invested their funding and star power behind a new generation of shows made for listening on our phones — and the results are suitably interesting.

While BBC Radio 4 podcasts like In Our Time and The Infinite Monkey Cage prove eternally popular, it is this new cohort of shows that is reinvigorating the British podcast scene. They retain the soul of British radio: investigative journalism, extensive fact checking, exclusive access and, of course, “British banter.” But they are also willing to take more risks. The Beeb has given reporters and writers scope to write entire series about niche subjects, as evident in work by Jon Ronson and Kevin Fong. The result? A roster of shows that are finally able to compete with America’s established podcast space.

Things Fell Apart

British-American writer Jon Ronson has made a career out of telling complicated stories. He investigates fringe politics and conspiracy theories, often embedding himself in his journalism without ever claiming to hold an objective opinion. So why does his work, notably his most recent podcast, feel so even-handed?

Things Fell Apart is a show about the “culture wars” in the West. After an acclaimed first season, Ronson has returned with eight episodes on hot topics including vaccine skepticism and hysteria about the threat of Antifa. These are stories we’ve heard before, but Ronson tells them a little differently. He goes back to the beginning, to the origin stories if you will. He finds the people at the heart of these conspiracies and traces their journey from normie to radical. Ronson asks thoughtful questions, offering his opinion only when necessary. Often, we don’t know how his subject got involved until near the end, giving us time to empathize with them.

Miss Me?

Miss Me? is a new BBC podcast hosted by singer Lily Allen and presenter Miquita Oliver, who just happen to have been friends since birth. We usually steer clear of podcasts with formats that are little more than “friends chatting about things.” But Miss Me? is already addictive and we’re keen to explain why.

Since the end of The High Low, a popular podcast for British millennials, there has been a gap in the market for funny, insightful conversations that cover culture, gossip and politics with the right mix of sarcasm and sincerity. From celebrity weddings to the latest election, Allen and Oliver know their stuff. As industry veterans, they turn the story inside out for listeners who quickly feel more like friends than fans. Of course, we don’t buy the “unfiltered” claim for a minute. This is the BBC, after all. But Miss Me? is instantly likeable and pairs perfectly with a glass of white wine.


Bloodlines is a collaboration between the BBC and its Canadian counterpart that explores the tragedy of the children caught up in the conflict in Syria through the story of a child named Salmaan. Set in 2018, the terrorist group ISIS is retreating in the region. But during the confusion, two-year-old Salmaan disappears. His grandfather desperately searches for him from his home in London, but the fate of these children is nearly impossible to untangle.

Investigative reporter Poonam Taneja has spent over a decade covering ISIS. She knows that thousands of children with roots in the US, Canada, and the UK ended up in Syria because their parents became involved in the conflict. But now that it’s ending, how do their relatives get them home? Bloodlines is an award-winning series that deserves its accolades for brave and heart-wrenching reporting. A lot has changed since 2018, but Bloodlines remains compelling listening.

13 Minutes to the Moon

There is no shortage of podcasts about space exploration. But what the BBC captures in 13 Minutes to the Moon is the sheer ambition that propelled America’s missions to the stars. In season one, Kevin Fong takes us to the moon on Apollo 11 with thorough research, original newsreel, and a cinematic soundscape by the film composer Hans Zimmer.

As you would expect from the BBC’s level of access, Fong interviews real astronauts who help him reconstruct those important thirteen minutes preceding the first landing on the lunar surface. Season two is equally compelling. It covers the near-disastrous Apollo 13 mission in chilling detail.

On first listening, 13 Minutes might surprise you. Why was this not a full-length TV documentary? The quality of the sound, interviews, and research would warrant a spot on primetime television. But in many ways, we’re glad that this show was green-lit for BBC World Service. Not only does it set a high bar for other podcasts, 13 Minutes invites a level of intimacy that a streaming service would struggle to match if tackling the same topic. 13 Minutes is a podcast that curious adults and space-mad teens alike will enjoy.


Since the shock US presidential election in 2016, the world has been following American politics with eagle eyes. Americast is the BBC’s answer to our need for regular analysis on everything from local US elections to abortion legislation. This twice-weekly podcast is presented by trusted journalists including Sarah Smith, North America correspondent Anthony Zurcher, presenter Justin Webb, and disinformation and social media correspondent Marianna Spring. Through their reporting, America’s political landscape takes shape. And thanks to their contacts, listeners can expect consistently high-profile interviews with government officials and top journalists. With another election approaching, Americast is essential listening for transatlantic analysis.

Good Bad Billionaire

The premise of Good Bad Billionaire is simple: hosts Simon Jack and Zing Tsjeng figure out how famous rich people made their money — and then proceeed judge them. It’s a timely idea. The discourse around billionaires has never been more bifurcated. Half of us hate wealthy people while the other half venerate them. Elon Musk has more power than some countries. And it’s impossible to navigate the internet without scrolling past posts that read “eat the rich” quickly followed by “how to develop seven streams of passive income.” No wonder we’re all overwhelmed.

Good Bad Billionaire is a BBC Sounds podcast that tries to make sense of the phenomenon by analyzing billionaires without a pre-established moral position. And while it can be annoying hearing about the positive qualities of someone you totally loathe, at least it’s an exercise in compassion. Just kidding, sometimes they simply suck! We recommend Good Bad Billionaire for anyone in brain recovery after exiting their Diary of a CEO phase, as well as more rational fans of shows like Business Wars.


Sidetracked is a weekly music podcast hosted by industry legends Nick Grimshaw and Annie Mac. Grimshaw is a long-time BBC radio presenter. Mac is an esteemed DJ who I may or may not have seen live in a field when I was sixteen. I simply can’t remember.  Together they have shaped the sound of a Brit’s Friday Night for decades. It’s little surprise that Sidetracked is a hit.

Mac and Grimshaw’s conversations on pop culture and music news are fresh and authentic. Their shared experiences in British broadcasting add a layer of delicious nostalgia for all the millennials desperate to feel something. While nothing revolutionary, Sidetracked is easy listening for a weekend drive. Consistently funny and packed with transatlantic references, the show is also a good first taste of British radio for any Americans who want to dip a toe into this domain.


Alice Florence Orr is a staff writer and editor for Podcast Review. She is based in Edinburgh. You can connect with her on Twitter or read her work on