Best podcasts of the week: Penn Badgley goes back to school for tales of teenage cringe

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<span>Photograph: Jim Spellman/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Jim Spellman/Getty Images

Picks of the week

Listening In
Widely available, episodes weekly from Wed 25 May
The Marvelous Mrs Maisel’s Rachel Brosnahan is the star of this immersive podcast about a woman who just wants her Alexa-style device to play some jazz radio, but gets more than she bargained for. When it starts broadcasting her neighbours’ conversations (and intimate moments, including plentiful slurpy kissing noises) she gets involved in their lives – which is either a dream or a nightmare, depending on how nosy you are. Hannah Verdier

Look at What You’ve Done
Widely available, episodes weekly from Mon 23 May

There is never a drought of “two blokes having a funny chat” podcasts, but Edinburgh comedy award winner Jordan Brookes has one worthy of your queue. His first guest is Marcus Brigstocke, who moves beyond an earnest discussion about hairy backs, large testicles and having colonic irrigation on Radio 4, to open up about overcoming addiction. HV

Stolen: Surviving St Michael’s
Spotify, episodes weekly

When Connie Walker unearthed a story about her late father crossing paths with the priest who abused him, she decided to investigate the murky world of Canadian residential schools. What follows is a disturbing catalogue of what went on at St Michael’s school in Saskatchewan from the 1950s to the 70s and the effects it had on families. HV

Wait … Am I Toxic?
Widely available, episodes weekly
A podcast billed as “anti-cancel culture” might make you a bit wary, but hosts Fola and Rukiya are definitely not a pair of Piers Morgans. Firstly, they’re hilarious. And in a place “where Black Brits can feel seen”, they have much-needed, raw chats about women’s health inequality and why you can’t live life to please the aunties. HV

Widely available, episodes weekly

One for the Gossip Girl and You fans, each episode hears woke millennial pinup Penn Badgley read out a submitted story about middle school. With his pals Nava Kavelin and Sophie Ansari, he unpicks the awkwardness of adolescence. Guests such as Leighton Meester join in the surprisingly relatable conversations. Hollie Richardson

There’s a podcast for that

Michaela Coel in the groundbreaking I May Destroy You
Michaela Coel in the groundbreaking I May Destroy You Photograph: AP

This week, Hannah Verdier picks out five of the best podcast interviews, from Michaela Coel on I May Destroy You to the late Jamal Edwards’ modest retelling of his rise to success

Michaela Coel on Grounded with Louis Theroux
Social distancing saw Theroux enhance his impeccable interview style via his pod series, which includes a beautiful chat with Michaela Coel. Their sparkly rapport is established within seconds, with talk moving smoothly from Coel’s Christian awakening (including speaking in tongues) to the assault that informed I May Destroy You, along with a flat refusal to talk about her love life. Her take on white men defending their freedom of speech is perfect, as she advises: “gentleness, heart, empathy … trying to accommodate for who other people are and where they’ve come from might just influence how we say things.”

Aisling Bea on Comfort Eating with Grace Dent
When a guest sends comfort food fan Grace Dent potato waffles with melted butter and spaghetti hoops as a snack, you know you’re in for a good interview. Bea comes straight from her bed with no trousers on, and she’s a gorgeously wind-her-up-and-watch-her-go interviewee. Admitting that her mum made her a packed lunch every day until she was 18 is just the start and she’s full of innocent revelations, such as the fact that she assumed every house, like hers, had a “Something nice” tin full of Time Out bars.

Vicky McClure on The Two Shot Podcast
Craig “Dot Cottan” Parkinson has racked up hundreds of interviews on his podcast and it’s always a joy, with buckets of warmth and zero pretence from both the host and his guests. His first episode set the scene, with Vicky McClure brewing a tea in her slippers. She’s soon on a roll, talking about seeing her parents trying to get the money together when she got a place at the Italia Conti drama school and feeling like Julia Roberts at 15 after getting her big break in the Shane Meadows film A Room For Romeo Brass.

MNEK on This City with Clara Amfo
Although no one from outside London really needs to hear people banging on about the capital, Clara Amfo and her friendly enthusiasm make it lovable. And her most adorable guest is singer-songwriter MNEK, who has Spice Girls posters on his wall and giggles as Amfo reminds him how shy he was when they first met. The Catford boy is an excitable ball of fun and love, even when cornered about the moments when commercial success was slow to emerge, and the chemistry between him and Amfo is a delight to hear.

Jamal Edwards on The Diary of a CEO with Steven Bartlett
The Dragons’ Den investor’s podcast isn’t for everyone, unless you enjoy Jordan Peterson being given a platform or influencer Mollie Mae Hague spouting her much-criticised “we all have the same 24 hours in the day” philosophy. But among the ratings-grabbing “hey, you can do it!” guests is an interview with the late Jamal Edwards, founder of the influential YouTube music channel SBTV. His charisma and modesty shine through as he talks about how giving back, rather than making money, is the key to happiness.

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