Culture is a rich seam for some truly great podcasts. There are the presenters for a start: comedians especially have brought real flair to the format. Then there's the scope for aural experimentation, turning some of these podcasts into little artworks in their own right. The surprise is that the wackiest ideas - the ones that really shouldn't have made it past the first production meeting - turn out to be the finest listens, with the awards to match. Here's our selection of five of the best culture podcasts, right now.
Have You Heard George’s Podcast?
A multiple award-winner, this rich BBC-produced podcast takes the genre in an entirely new direction with a unique look at inner city life. Hosted by the charismatic performer George the Poet, it became the first podcast outside the United States to win a coveted Peabody Award. One listen will tell you why - and have you hooked. Subjects range from the Sixties to George's relationship trials and tribulations. The production is a real star here: multi-layered with music, sound effects and George's unique style. One of those rare podcasts that uses sound in a truly innovative way. As near to essential as it gets.
Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster
You'll have to put up with the advertisements, but you won't regret it. This long-running comedy-interview podcast is hosted by two of the top names in British comedy and invites guests to conjure up a fantasy dinner party, complete with attendees, starters, main courses, side dishes, desserts and drinks. Shouldn't work, right? Very much does. Guests include Simon Amstell and Shaparak Korsandi - "I wish I was made of garlic," she tells the hosts - and there are more than 100 episodes available. Tasty.
Hosted by Nihal Arthanayake and culled from his Radio 5Live show, there is no better way to get a grip on what you might and - more to the point - might not want to watch on TV. That's if Nihal and critics Scott Bryan and Hayley Campbell get round to television at all as the conversation follows whichever tributary seems the richest. Stars make regular interview appearances: sometimes, once they've gone, to have their shows panned by the unforgiving Scott and Hayley. Genuinely and unexpectedly funny - plus you'll find your way into some new binge-worthy boxsets and out of wasting your time on the flops. Must Watch? Must listen.
Ever wondered about the history of lift music? Wonder no more. Our pick from Slate's excellent podcast selection, Decoder Ring is hosted by the online magazine's superb television critic Willa Paskin. Lift muzak is one of her signature off-beam topics, along with tattoos, selling-out culturally and the bizarre fate of the Segway among many others. Guests are stellar and insights are unexpected. Naturally the culture most discussed is that of the United States but, trust us, the format, writing and presentation is addictive. It's in-depth, quirky, authoritative and we love it.
The Gramophone Podcast
Time to get a grip on classical music? There's no better place than this very straightforward podcast from those behind the industry's leading magazine. There's plenty of beautiful music, of course, and authoritative interviews with those who make it. Gramophone has a good 90 years of history to draw on, so you just know it's the right place to brush up your knowledge on Chopin's Nocturnes or hear from the legendary pianist Alfred Brendel. It's not just the established classics: there's plenty from new composers too who are braving the crossover between classical and pop. Brilliant brainfood.