The 10 best podcasts the Stylist team listened to in 2021

Written by Priyankaa Joshi

From true crime to self-care, we’ve rounded up our favourite podcasts of 2021 that are guaranteed to keep you hooked for hours on end.  

For many of us, podcasts have become an integral part of our daily routines over the last year as we’ve been plunged in and out of lockdown. After all, there’s only so much TV you can watch before your eyes go fuzzy and your head starts hurting.

Covering every topic from self-help and music to history, news and sex, we’ve truly been spoilt for choice. As the year draws to a close and the cold, dark evenings are here to stay, there’s no better time to get stuck into some of the year’s best podcast series.

The only issue is, with so many options to choose from, it can be hard to know where to begin. That’s where we come in.

Whether you’re into gripping true crime investigations, life-affirming self-care podcasts or light-hearted comedy shows, here are the best podcast recommendations from the Stylist team. Plug your headphones in and get listening… 

Harsh Reality: The Story of Miriam Rivera

Best podcasts of 2021: Harsh Reality: The Story of Miriam Rivera

Lauren, digital writer:

“It may have only landed earlier this month, but Wondery’s Harsh Reality: The Story Of Miriam Rivera is definitely the most impactful podcast I’ve listened to this year. Hosted by the actor Trace Lysette and made in partnership with Translash Media, the podcast takes a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of one of the 00s most controversial reality shows and the woman at the centre of it all.”

Sweet Bobby podcast

Sweet Bobby podcast: Kirat Assi on a decade of deception, abuse and catfishing

Naomi May, digital fashion writer: 

Sweet Bobby was, by far, the most intense, jaw-dropping, mind-boggling head spin of a podcast I binged this year. Produced by the wunderkinds at Tortoise, it tells the story of one of the most head-scratchingly outrageous catfishing escapades I’ve ever heard of (I’ll leave out any spoilers). I like my podcasts how I like my drinks: strong, gut-punching and incredibly moreish. Be prepared to have your mind blown by the Sweet Bobby saga.”

The Rewatchables podcast

Best podcasts of 2021 The Rewatchables

Ellie Edwards, freelance social media editor:

“I’m all for a dark and grizzly true crime podcast, but in 2021, I’ve needed light relief from the real world and that’s come in the form of The Rewatchables, an American podcast series where film buffs discuss and dissect movies. As someone who struggles to commit to a 90-minute film, it’s a great way to catch up on scenes I might have missed, revisit firm favourites, and generally find out more about an industry I don’t know much about.”

Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster 

Best podcasts of 2021: Off Menu Podcast

Amber Sunner, Stylist contributor:

Off Menu is a hilarious podcast featuring comedians James Acaster and Ed Gamble. They interview celebrities and quiz them about their favourite starter, main, dessert, side dish and drink. It always leads to such interesting conversations that never fail to make me laugh.”

WeCrashed podcast

Best podcasts of 2021: WeCrashed

Alice Porter, Stylist contributor:

“My favourite podcast of 2021 has to be WeCrashed, which tracks the rise and fall of the company WeWork. When it was first recommended to me, I thought it sounded dull but it’s actually a rollercoaster of a listen with such fascinating characters – you genuinely couldn’t write them. If you’re even slightly interested in the world of tech, it’s a must-listen!”

British Scandal podcast     

Best podcasts of 2021: The British Scandal

Jazmin Kopotsha, executive editor digital:

“Funnily enough, I was stuck on a delayed train to visit some friends so I searched Spotify for a podcast. I just typed in ‘scandal’ as I wanted some drama and I found British Scandal, a Wondery podcast series hosted by Alice Levine and Matt Forde. It quite literally talks you through some of the biggest (and juiciest) dramas in British history. I thoroughly enjoyed their retelling of the Phone Hacking Scandal – part dramatised, part reported. It’s an amazing blend of audio storytelling worthy of any otherwise boring train journey.”

The Receipts Podcast

Best podcasts of 2021: The Receipts Podcast

Amy Beecham, digital writer

“In a year of so many heavy news stories, The Receipts Podcast has brought some much-needed brevity. Audrey, Tolly and Milena’s commentary, on cultural issues and relationship dilemmas as much as life in general, is always something I turn to when I’m feeling like I want to switch off from the world. During the lockdowns, something I really missed was gossiping with my friends over a bottle of wine, and in the depths of Covid isolation, this felt like the closest thing to it.”

BBC Sounds’s The Hotel podcast

Best podcasts of 2021: The Hotel, BBC Sounds

Alex Sims, commissioning editor:

“Technically not a podcast, but a series of short stories on BBC Sounds, The Hotel by former Booker-prize nominee Daisy Johnson is a collection of 15 dark, supernatural tales about the history of a mysterious hotel that looms over The Fens. Written in a similar style to Shirley Jackson and Edgar Allen Poe, each of the episodes tells a different story about people’s uncanny encounters with the building and they’re all read magnificently by acclaimed actors like Adjoa Andoh, Nicola Walker, Anne-Marie Duff, Maxine Peake and Juliet Stevenson. I’ve listened to a lot of short stories over the pandemic to try and transport me out of the hellscape we’ve all been living in and these creepy, mesmerising ghost stories were a deliciously eerie distraction.”

West Cork podcast

Best podcasts of 2021: West Cork

Morgan Fargo, senior beauty writer:

“Favourite is an interesting word to use in relation to this podcast but it was fascinating and I recommended it to everyone I came into contact with while I was listening. West Cork – the story of a French woman who moved to Ireland and was murdered in mysterious circumstances – was truly gripping. If my ears were a book, I couldn’t turn the page fast enough. It provided a distraction from the day-to-day of groundhog lockdown and cemented me as an A* podcast recommender. Everything I love.”

The Witness: In His Own Words podcast

Best podcasts of 2021: The Witness: In His Own Words

Katy Harrington, deputy digital editor:

“I was addicted to the incredible story of Joseph O’Callaghan, the youngest person ever to enter witness protection in Ireland. His testimony put two of Dublin’s most notorious and violent drug dealers in prison, but that’s not even half the story here. The podcast uncovers the sickening violence of the drug industry and how a thoughtful young boy is robbed of his childhood and groomed into a crime gang. This one will stay with you long after you’ve finished it.”

Images: Getty/ Courtesy of podcasts

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