The best podcasts of 2022 so far

The Trojan Horse Affair

Hard to imagine any listeners to Brian Reed’s previous podcast, S-Town, predicting that its follow-up would shift focus from a murder in small-town America to a national British scandal. Yet this look at the supposed 2014 Islamist plot in Birmingham schools did just that, leaving no stone unturned in its investigation – to the extent that it ended up dragging an ex-teacher’s dentist to South Africa. Passionate co-host Hamza Syed, in his podcast debut, made the storytelling all the more compelling.

Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts

The Superhero Complex

Phoenix Jones
A wild ride … costumed crusader Phoenix Jones. Photograph: Reuters

We knew we’d be in for a wild ride as soon we met the magnetic subject of this podcast, who dressed up like a comic book character, formed a team of “real-life superheroes” to fight crime then ended up getting busted for drugs. And from the moment we encountered Ben Fodor – AKA costumed crusader Phoenix Jones – that’s exactly what happened. But he also proved a completely unreadable personality. Is he really working with the FBI? Did he start stealing equipment from his team-mates, as they claim (and he denies)? And is his crime-fighting just a way to pivot into a career as an MMA fighter? With differing accounts coming from all sides, it made for an intriguing web with more questions than answers – and was all the better for it.

Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts

Wild Things: Siegfried and Roy

Siegfried and Roy with thier white lions and white tigers, Las Vegas.
Astonishingly flamboyant … Siegfried and Roy with their white lions and white tigers, Las Vegas. Photograph: Willi Schneider/REX/Shutterstock

Sometimes a podcast’s story is so obviously dynamite you can’t believe it hasn’t already been done. Such was the case with this eight-part exploration of the astonishingly flamboyant lives and careers of Las Vegas magicians Siegfried and Roy. From the arresting opening moments that chronicle a tiger mauling Roy’s neck, to an origin story involving Nazis, cheetah-smuggling and Grace Kelly, it was packed with mindboggling detail. And just like the shows of the two men in question, it was solid gold entertainment start to finish.

Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts

28ish Days Later

India Rakusen’s mind was “so blown” when she started talking to experts about the menstrual cycle. The audio producer was kind enough to share her discoveries via this fact-filled series, which covers everything from heavy bleeding to hormones, period tracking apps to perimenopause. Her bite-size episodes are elevated by diverse voices, among them the first transgender man to front a period product campaign, and the people for whom the “time of the month” is a rare occurrence indeed.

Available on BBC Sounds, Spotify and Apple Podcasts

Ki & Dee: The Podcast

In this pick-me-up podcast, singer/songwriter friends Chiara Hunter and Diana Vickers (she of X Factor fame) have a hoot chatting with guests such as Drag Race’s Cheryl Hole and pop star Ella Eyre. But the main reason to plug in are the extremely funny songs about the lives of single millennial women – first recorded on social media while the pair were holed up in lockdown and now performed here. Topics include: the Moroccan oil in Jack Grealish’s hair, the “live, laugh, love” sign you didn’t expect to see in a new friend’s hallway, the summer of no 69s. They’re joined by ditties written especially for each guest that are never short of painfully relatable – and laugh-out-loud funny.

Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts

Run Bambi Run

This eight-part series about the murder conviction of 21-year-old ex-police officer Laurie “Bambi” Bembenek was less a did she?/didn’t she? procedural, and more a sympathetic look at the life of a woman who became a national icon after a successful jailbreak. Host Vanessa Grigoriadis’s focus on Bembenek’s supposedly supermodel good looks initially comes off a bit strange, until it’s clear that it coloured her treatment by the police force that would eventually fire her, and influenced the media coverage of her trial and most likely the verdict. Ultimately, it’s a sad tale of a wasted life which holds up a mirror to the prejudice of the 1980s and raises serious questions about that era’s Milwaukee cops.

Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts

The Antidote

With an enjoyable don’t-give-a-damn attitude, this podcast tries to find the joy in our increasingly dark world. Whether it’s the hosts’ determined commitment to swearing, or high-energy guest interviews on topics such as the grownup way to drink tequila, it’s unfailingly funny. Hardly surprising, given that Amy Aniobi and Grace Edwards met as writers on the excellent HBO comedy Insecure.

Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts

HeidiWorld: The Heidi Fleiss Story

Heidi Fleiss.
Prescient … Heidi Fleiss. Photograph: Shahar Azran/Getty Images

Writer Molly Lambert and a cast of actors tackle hypocrisy and sexual politics in a prescient 10-part series about “Hollywood Madam” Heidi Fleiss. It’s a story that could be straight out of a blockbuster film, following the hustling LA brothel owner who made hundreds of thousands of dollars per year setting up senators and rock stars with young sex workers, and was later the subject of a scandalous trial to rival OJ Simpson’s.

Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts

Unreal: A Critical History of Reality TV

Jade Goody and Davina McCall on Big Brother in 2002.
Feeds our need for nostalgia … Jade Goody and Davina McCall on Big Brother in 2002. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA

“The dumbest genre in entertainment, or the one that tells us the most about ourselves?” That’s the question Pandora Sykes and Sirin Kale comprehensively explored in this addictive 10-part series about reality television. Speaking with more than 60 experts, commissioners, producers and contestants, the duo fulfil our greedy need for nostalgia by recalling shows such as Big Brother, Pop Idol, The Hills and Made in Chelsea. They then set about scrupulously unpicking the genre’s darker side. There is no judgment or snobbery here; just smart takes on something we’ve all engaged in to some degree – whether we admit it or not.

Available on BBC Sounds, Spotify and Apple Podcasts


Hundreds of hours of live conversations, experiences and intimate moments were recorded for this docu-series following four trans people who live in LA. It’s a revealing and eye-opening portrait of the lives it profiles, whether looking at the poor medical advice for trans people who want to take testosterone, or how you navigate a relationship when one partner is transitioning. Stylistically, it has moments that nod to reality TV (not surprising given that it was led by an ex-executive producer of Keeping Up With the Kardashians), but it’s full of heart, humour and passion.

Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts

What are your favourite listens of the year so far? Please let us know in the comments below.