Posts Tagged ‘This American Life’

Thursday Listening Party

October 8, 2015

On the Thursdays with no new AMT, we crank up the spoken word audio and have a Thursday Listening Party.
Click here to attend all previous gatherings.

The other day I heard this very interesting episode of All In The Mind about the Truman Show Delusion, and it must be Truman Show Delusion Season, because lo, on this week’s This American Life, there it is. (And in the same episode, I was glad to hear this absolutely bonkers story again.)

There’s a new series afoot of Radio 4’s Digital Human, and listening to it is making me feel smarter, even though my brain is actually rapidly crumbling. I’ve also been happily blasting through FiveThirtyEight‘s podcast What’s The Point, which makes tech and stats and data stuff a lot more engaging and entertaining than you would expect from the words ‘tech’, ‘stats’ and ‘data stuff’.

We’ve been keeping ourselves busy as well: for Guardian Tech Weekly, Olly met the founder of Instagram to celebrate the app’s fifth birthday. Regarding things that are even younger than that, in the latest Allusionist I found out why we talk to babies like we, and they, are idiots.

PS I know I mentioned Adam Buxton‘s new podcast last time, but given how enthusiastic you were to hear him in AMT300 and Jon Ronson in AMT190, I thought you should know that the latest episode features Adam Buxton AND Jon Ronson ie is probably your ideal podcast.


Thursday Listening Party

February 12, 2015


On the Thursdays we don’t release a new AMT, we crank up the spoken word audio and have a Thursday Listening Party.
Click here to attend all previous gatherings.

What have you been listening to lately, AMTpals? Share your picks in the comments. Here are some of the things that have infiltrated my ears:

Last weekend, to keep me company whilst I raced to finish a ridiculous craft project, I chained several episodes of Why Oh Why? with Andrea Silenzi and Date Night, both of which feel like eavesdropping on very candid conversations. More reliable than hoping you hit the jackpot on the train by getting a seat in front of a couple of people having a very juicy chat…

Also candid: latest Radiotopia recruit Mortified. During the craft project I watched the Mortified Nation documentary, and now I can get my fix of adults reading their embarrassing teenage diaries and letters on their new weekly podcast (here it is on SoundCloud and iTunes).

I’m SO glad I never kept a diary. All my teenage feelings, not saved for posterity! Thank goodness…

Many people have noted that this recent episode of This American Life about trolling is brilliant. They are right. Get on it.

I was rooting around in the Radio 4 archives and happened upon an episode of Chain Reaction in which Rebecca Front is interviewed by her brother Jeremy Front. Who doesn’t love Rebecca Front? That’s right, none of you raised your hands. Then I looked down the chain and saw who else was coming up in the series – Chris Addison! Derren Brown! Caitlin Moran! – and, well, that’s three hours taken care of. Then I noticed the other nine series, so that’s me sorted until March.

What else have we been up to since the hijinks of AMT307?

You can hear Olly every late night/early morning on LBC, and every fortnight on the Media Podcast, of which there should be a new episode later today.

You’ll enjoy the latest episode of The Allusionist, especially if you’re that listener who wrote in a few years ago to tell me he enjoyed hearing me say ‘cunt’. Because this whole show is about the word cunt. Find the show at, iTunes, SoundCloud or those other places you like to find podcasts.

Aaaaand finally: here is my very last podcast for Sound Women. I’m taking early retirement. Aptly, my swansong is all about podcasting; I chat to Theresa Thorn of the very entertaining One Bad Mother, and to my new boss/patron Roman Mars of 99% Invisible. If you’ve ever wanted to hear podcasters moaning about what goes on behind the scenes, your ship has come in (on SoundCloud and iTunes):

See you next Thursday for AMT308!


Thursday Listening Party

May 15, 2014



In case you’re interested in podcasters talking shop, we’ve started putting up the full-length interviews we conducted for our podcasting documentary on Radio 4. My thoughts on talking to Maron, Savage, Mars etc al (and my brother) are here.

Long-term AMT listeners will already be familiar with my thoughts upon My So-Called Life, but I aired them at greater length on Little Atoms. You’re very welcome.

Then, in the May edition of the Sound Women podcast, I reflect upon My Brilliant Career coughspluttercough, and also learn about prison radio, headed notepaper campaigns, and how YouTube stars are made (talking about hair, apparently):

Further audiotainment:

I’ve spent much of this week doing a large and very fiddly drawing with a tiny dip pen last used by my grandfather at school. My eyes were busy, but my ears were not, so it was an optimal time redress how lately I’ve been slacking on This American Life-listening duties – so many other shows are influenced by This American Life, it made me take the actual This American Life for granted. But blasting through several episodes, including this week’s Call for Help, brought me right back in. I’ll never leave you again, This American Life!

I chased this with an episode of TLDR featuring Alex Tew, who in 2005 created the Million Dollar Homepage whilst sitting around waiting to go to university. Nowadays the site is a bit of a joke for being a relic of a past internet age, and for being more than 20% dead links – but to me, it’s incredible that it is still nearly 80% undead, and still hauling in money. While I was waiting to go to university, I learnt Italian, which earnt me zero dollars and I’ve since forgotten nearly 100% of it. You win this round, Alex Tew!

Drawing with a dip pen takes a REALLY long time, so I also blasted through two series of Radio 4’s The Ideas That Make Us, which is the kind of radio show that makes you feel cleverer as you listen (like In Our Time) whilst being very fun (unlike In Our Time). (Sorry, In Our Time. Melvyn Bragg, please don’t enact revenge on Bettany Hughes for my offence.)

Recently Woman’s Hour ran a belter of a fashion special, featuring such legends as Celia Birtwell, and Grayson and Philippa Perry; there was the serious business of sustainable clothing and the Rana Plaza disaster, and the less serious business of stripes and how they used to be the pattern of the devil. The more you know, eh?

Lastly, if you’re interested in how writing for TV goes:
Greg Jenner, historical consultant for Horrible Histories, discusses writing historical documentaries and dramas.
Brent Forrester, who has worked on such shows as The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Mr Show and the American version of The Office, talks about the sweaty business of comedy writing.


Catch up on AMT289 and the episodes preceding it.
AMT episodes 1-170 and the special AMT albums are all available for a piddling little price at, and if you buy any of them you’re bankrolling the podcast, so thank you very much indeed.
Olly’s on LBC every weekday 1am-4am. If you’re an insomniac, a night worker, or in a time zone where those hours are compatible with waking life, tune in.
On Saturday evenings I’m on BBC 5 Live’s Saturday Edition, available subsequently as the podcast Let’s Talk About Tech.
I also host the monthly Sound Women podcast.
Martin the Sound Man makes numerous other podcasts, including Brain Train, The Global Lab and The Sound of the Ladies.

To keep your ears ever busy until AMT290 next Thursday, here are some other podcasts we like.

Requests are welcome at the Thursday Listening Party. No need to dance sexily next to the DJ booth hoping to be noticed, just recommend shows in the comments.


EPISODE 261 – SO delicious

June 13, 2013

Hello listeners,

This week, we learn a few very important lessons about sheep: not to underestimate them intellectually and emotionally; what they have in common with Margaret Thatcher; and what they also have in common with Helen’s mum. Discover these things right now in Answer Me This! Episode 261:

Subscribe to AMT! on iTunes listen to the MP3 through your computer soundcloud-icon our podcast feed on Libsyn Share with Facebook

In which we also learn about:

emogothpunk style
Casper the Suicidal Ghost
small-talk with accountants
the losers’ cafe in The Apprentice
BHS Dr Martens
free sunglasses
pony-drawn rollers
the Cabinet vs. the Divine Right of Kings
iced coffee vs. cold coffee
Olly’s face vs. Richard Gere’s face
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
advice from Paul Ross.

Plus: Olly had to go cold turkey on the brown, by which we mean Mr Brown drinks, not heroin; Helen sounds and looks and smells like an old fart; and Martin the Sound Man’s emotional needs are not going to be met by sheep. Let’s not even contemplate whether they can meet his sexual needs, please. But you can meet Martin’s needs by going to his website or YouTube to watch his spectacular new music video (/visual evidence of his nervous breakdown).

In this week’s Bit of Crap on the App (available for iDevices and Android) Helen expresses her ever-unrealised desire for unusual-coloured hair. She may have wimped out of having an experimental phase in her teens, but when she’s a geriatric she WILL go full-bore Marge Simpson. Promise.

Promise us to send us your QUESTIONS for our next series: leave voicemails on the Question Line – call 0208 123 5877 or Skype ID answermethis – or send emails to

We’ll be back with AMT262 on 11th July, so please join us then; in the meantime, check back here for our imminent album, the Answer Me This! Holiday, our all-new follow-up to our Top 20 (no really!) albums Jubilee and Sports Day, available for your delectation at


Helen & Olly

AMT261 Child-Friendly Rating: 90%.
References to hiding pornographic magazines; very mild profanity.


EPISODE 157 – Freddy Krueger gets piles

November 18, 2010

In honour of the Answer Me This! book being officially (well, close) declared ‘one of the greatest pieces of toilet literature of all time‘, we’ve got an accidental toilet-reading theme running through Answer Me This! Episode 157. What does Jack Bauer read on the bog? Is Timmy Mallett’s How to be Utterly Brilliant or Kenny Everett’s Ultimate Loo Book the biggest star in the loobrary firmament? Why does Martin the Sound Man dream sweet dreams of lavatories? Find out all:

This classic episode is available to BUY NOW for just 79p at the Answer Me This! Store, through a secure server, without DRM restriction. CLICK HERE to find out more and support our podcast. (This helps keep our most recent episodes free)

This week, we amuse ourselves with:

the Mann Booker prize
Nightmare on Hygiene Street
The Piano: The Musical
Gibson vs. Fender
T3 vs. 3T
tarts vs. tarts
salesmanship vs. psoriasis
The Guardian Bedside Reader
martini-making machines
David McAlmont and Michael Nyman
the Nissan of the guitar world
the Captain Corelli’s Mandolin-branded backgammon set
hairy oil spills
No More Nails
nut hamper
the Alcor Life Extension Foundation
parallel parking
the Strawberry Strumpet.

Plus: Olly has some dodgy plans for death row prisoners; Helen revolutionises bridal traditions with the help of Stilton; and Martin the Sound Man sold off his glorious ponytail for far less than its current market value. This week’s bonus bit on the app is a question from Jack, the 21-year-old undertaker in Uckfield, who feels uncomfortable with atheism in front of mourners and wanking in front of his cat. What a shy soul!

As ever, we have a hankering for YOUR QUESTIONS, so sate us by leaving a message on the Question Line 0208 123 5877, Skype-ing answermethis, or emailing

Now, if you’ve got time this evening (that is, Thursday 18th November), please do pop along to see us read bits from our book at Waterstone’s Gower Street. We kick off at 6pm sharp, but if you can’t make that, how about a rerun at noon on 26th November at Rough Trade East, huh? Come and have a little pre-lunch fun with us. There are some excellent bagel-shops a mere gherkin’s throw away.

Helen and Olly

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