Best podcasts of the week: Kick off 2024 with a self-help show free from ‘delusional positivity’ | Podcasts

Picks of the week

Scottee: Self Help
Widely available, weekly from New Year’s Day
Cabaret artist and activist Scottee has tried many mental health solutions over the years. Now he promises “an amateur’s guide to staying alive … fuelled by class, queerness and fatness”. His podcast is an antidote to what he describes as “delusional positivity”. Framing sanity as a house of cards, looking at how self-pity could help with healing, and showing how capitalism has exploited sadness, it’s thoughtful, helpful and forthright. Hannah Verdier

The Pirate of Prague
Widely available, episodes weekly
If you’re in need of a holiday binge, this Apple Original about a charming Czech conman who persuaded the wealthy to invest in an oil company has been a true-crime slowburner. In six episodes there are Aspen parties, suitcases full of cash and rich people trying to get richer, ripe for exploitation by smooth-talking Viktor Kožený. HV

John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy in Dallas before his assassination.
John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy in Dallas before his assassination. Photograph: American Photo Archive/Alamy

Trace of Doubt
Audible, all episodes available
Twenty-three years ago, author Samantha Weinberg was on her way to interview a murder suspect – of whose guilt she was certain. Now, she’s looking back into the case where a British DNA scientist was murdered in her Californian garden. It’s a twisty, slick series, in which her views are turned on their head. Alexi Duggins

Widely available, all episodes available
This surreally inventive children’s podcast has an almost Mighty Boosh-like quality to its daft character voices, whimsical comic moments and oddball references. No wonder, given that its chronicle of the adventures of a character called Splott was created by a duo whose credits include Toast of London and Motherland. AD

Who Killed JFK?
Widely available, episodes weekly
One of America’s most enduring stories as told by one of America’s greatest storytellers. Film-maker Rob Reiner investigates the assassination of President John F Kennedy (above) 60 years after it happened. He teams up with journalist Soledad O’Brien, and they speak to CIA officials and a secret service agent, to follow the new leads that continue to be discovered. Hollie Richardson

There’s a podcast for that

Andi and Miquita Oliver.
Andi and Miquita Oliver. Photograph: Errol Ettienne/BBC/Somethin’ Else

This week, Hannah Verdier picks five of the best podcasts hosted by families, from welcoming chefs to inclusive drag queens

Stirring It Up with Andi & Miquita Oliver
Who wouldn’t want to pop round mother-and-daughter duo Andi and Miquita Oliver’s house for dinner? Their warm and welcoming podcast has gone from strength to strength, with glorious guests including Kathy Burke, Lemn Sissay and Elizabeth Day sitting down for a chat around the dinner table. While Miquita mixes the drinks, Andi brings the food, with honey-baked chicken and pan-fried seabass among the dishes on the menu. It’s a comforting cue for easy conversations that switch from vulnerable confessions to lovable cackles in each episode.

The Therapy Crouch
If lovingly bickering is the key to a successful marriage, then Abbey Clancy and Peter Crouch are in it for the long run. As podcasting couples go, these two need no script – they’re funnier than some comedians. They also have a knack for letting enough slip about their celebrity marriage to grab a headline or two. Ralph the puppy, their latest addition, unites them in love and divides them in a crate-training debate, with Crouch being relegated into ninth place in their family’s priorities. From moustache styling to beige flags, these two never run out of things to talk about.

Kaitlin Prest’s The Heart is one of the finest podcasts out there and Sisters, a five-part examination of her relationship with her sibling Natalie, is intimate, warm and highly nuanced. Their sisterly bond is realistic and relatable, with mostly off-the-cuff conversations over a period of two years. Although there’s so much love between the two, Kaitlin accurately describes the feeling of being replaced by her younger sister, while Natalie recalls trying to copy her sister because she looked up to her. It’s particularly fascinating to see how easily the pair fall into their old sibling roles as adults.

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Table Manners with Jessie and Lennie Ware
Only a pair of formidable women would serve Nigella Lawson her own pasta recipe, but mother and daughter force of nature Jessie and Lennie Ware are not known for sitting back and being quiet. While Jessie brings the pop-star creds, it’s Lennie who will ask their guests anything she fancies – and her charm means she gets away with it every time. From quizzing Miriam Margolyes about why she has so much wind to pinning down Sadiq Khan’s political ambitions, Mama Ware is unstoppable. Splitting her airtime between poking at her daughter and building rapport with guests, it’s a recipe for fun.

Sibling Rivalry
Friends are the family you choose – and treasured relationships don’t come much closer than the sisterly dynamic between Bob the Drag Queen and Monét X Change. Hilarious, outrageous, ultimately supportive: these two are all the drag queen tropes and more. Not being actual sisters doesn’t stop them from bickering like they are, but behind all the acerbic one-liners are two people who are always ready to talk about inequality and speak up about being Black and queer in America today. Makeup, hook-ups, break-ups: nothing is off limits and it’s all delivered with an almost illegal amount of sass.

Why not try …

  • Music fans get exclusive access to never-before-heard stories about the best-known names in music in Night of Show.

  • From the producers of The World as You’ll Know It, Humans vs Machines looks at the perils and promise of artificial intelligence with cognitive scientist, Gary Marcus.

  • This is Jeopardy! gives an intimate insight into the story of America’s favourite quizshow.

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