Podcast use is growing – rising 25% from 2013 to 2014 and it’s easy to see why. Podcasts are a great way of catching up on subjects that interest you in your own time. Whether you are listening through your computer, or downloading them to a tablet or smartphone to listen to on-the-go.

Many podcasts are off-shoots of radio shows –particularly those from the BBC, enabling you to catch up on what you’ve missed, often with extra content, and interruptions for news, weather and traffic. Others support TV programmes and websites, while some (such as Serial) comprise of unique content.

The majority of podcasts are free, but some – often celebrity ones – charge.

To find out more about how to download podcasts check out our feature The easy way to download and listen to podcasts.

With thousands of podcasts out there, there is something for everyone. If you are new to the world of podcasts, here’s our pick of the 10 best.

MP3 player with headphnes

1: Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo’s Film Reviews

Website: www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/kermode

Each week the extremely entertaining double act of Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo review the latest film releases and chat to directors and actors.

Kermode pulls no punches in his reviews, with the odd “Kermodian rant”, (check out the legendary Sex and the City 2 one here.), kept in check by the level-headed Mayo. Essential listening for film fans.

Download from iTunes


2: Desert Island Discs with Kirsty Young

Website: www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/did

First broadcast in 1942, Desert Island Discs celebrated its 3,000th episode in November 2014, in each episode castaways pick their favourite eight songs, a book and luxury item and talk about their lives. With Tom Jones, Terry Gilliam and Denise Lewis among the castaways this is one podcast where you need to delve into the archive.  Rights reasons means you can’t listen to the songs in full, but it’s still a fascinating insight into the lives of famous faces.

Download from iTunes


3: Football Weekly

Website: www.theguardian.com/football/series/footballweekly

Be it goals, transfers or upcoming matches, catch up with the latest from the beautiful game in UK and Europe in this bi-weekly podcast.  Backed by a team of pundits, presenter James Richardson manages to be witty yet informative.

Download from iTunes


4: Serial

Website: http://serialpodcast.org/

Officially the most popular podcast ever, you may have heard about Serial in the news. In the 12-part series reporter Sarah Koenig eloquently investigates the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, for which Adnan Sayed was convicted. Each week she investigates new leads and interviews people. For crime fans its gripping stuff, but it was the first podcast to capture mainstream attention, showing what the medium can do.

Download from iTunes


5: Stuff you Missed in History Class

Website: www.howstuffworks.com/

Available twice a week, this excellent podcast mixes well-known historical events such as The Battle of Hastings, with the not-so-well-known, such as the 1926 Eggnog Riot. As a US podcast, the focus is more on America, but events are told in a digestible and accessible way.

Download from iTunes

Podcast equipment


6: Ramblings with Clare Balding

Website: www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/factual/ramblings.shtml

In this BBC Radio 4 Series, Balding walks with rambling clubs up and down the UK, exploring the countryside and chatting to people on the way, from ordinary walkers to celebrities who introduce her to their landscape and talk about their lives.  This podcast is a great way of discovering the UK from your armchair and makes you want to pull on your walking boots.

Download from iTunes


7: Friday Night Comedy from BBC Radio 4

Website: www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/fricomedy

This satirical comedy program takes an alternative look at the week’s news events.  From BBC Radio 4’s The Now Show with Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis and a host of other comedians, performing witty and often scathing sketches and stand-up.

Download from iTunes


8: Moby Dick - Big Read

Website: www.mobydickbigread.com/

Written by Herman Melville in 1851, this podcast tells the story of the whaling ship Peqod as it searches for whale Moby Dick. Each of the 135 chapters is a separate episode with a different narrator including, Stephen Fry, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tilda Swinton.  If you’ve not read Moby Dick or fancy revisiting it, this podcast is for you.

Download from iTunes

[Related story: The easy way to download and listen to podcasts]

9: Witness

Website: www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/witness

This historical podcast from the BBC World Service looks at historical events from around the world, talking to the people who lived through them.  In The Life and Death of Agatha Christie you hear from her grandson, while India’s First Call Centre speaks to the man behind the call centre. Updated daily, at just 10 minutes long, Witness is an easy way to take a break from modern life.

Download from iTunes


10: 99% Invisible

Website: http://99percentinvisible.org/

Each episode of 99% Invisible explores a different area of design, focusing on the innocuous things around us we may have missed.  From looking at the “Inflatable Men” you see at shop openings to re-engineering Ikea furniture in “Hacking Ikea”, host Roman Mars is engaging and funny in these bite-size episodes.

Download from iTunes


What’s your favourite podcast? Let us know in the Comments below.