Where to start? Lets start at the end
Griefcast won Podcast of the Year at this years British Podcast Awards. It warmed up for this by winning Best Entertainment and Best Interview in the preceding hour, and host Cariad Lloyd left the event with more awards than she could reasonably carry
Back to the beginning. I first listened to The Griefcast when it appeared in the autumn of 2016 and have been tweeting about it and talking about it on other podcasts since then. It’s an extraordinary programme. It’s everything podcasting is about and everything radio often isn’t. I don’t believe it was ever pitched as a radio show, but how would that have read on paper? A comedian, you probably haven’t heard of, talks to other comedians, you mostly haven’t heard of, about death. For an hour. Can’t quite hear it can you?
There was also that slightly magical podcast thing when it started, in that its something you have discovered, it’s your thing. It’s a bit tricky to recommend to other people (listening to this GREAT podcast about death and loss, check it out!), and then you begin to discover that other people are listening too.
Comedian Cariad Lloyd lost her father to cancer at the age of 15. You can read more here and here. I lost my mum at 23. And this podcast talks about all the things you know when that has happened. All the hurdles, the emotions, all the things that nobody ever talks about. The constant membership renewal of a club you never asked to join, and can’t unsubscribe from. Ever.
I spoke to somebody the morning after the show won, someone who listens to everything, and she said she had never listened. She was a bit worried it would just upset her. Yes it might a bit. But you will also laugh. A lot. It’s OK to laugh at Griefcast. And it's OK to cry too, If you need a starting point, listen to a couple of the bigger names, David Baddiel and Robert Webb who are genuinely funny about experiences of grief. And then listen to Amy Hoggart, who is now on US TV with Samantha Bee, and hear her talk about the loss of her father, the writer and broadcaster Simon Hoggart, one of my favourite episodes. And then listen to the stories of people you really haven't heard of at all, and share in the commonality of your own experiences.
I don't think I have ever heard anyone actually shed a tear on the show, it's hard to believe nobody has. So credit to producer Kate Holland who keeps the podcast on an even keel, so it's never distressing to either interviewee or listeners. But it does feature some of the most honest conversations you have ever heard. Its compelling, powerful and yes, funny. A seemingly impossible trick to pull off. I have been lucky enough to have worked with some of the best interviewers in the business, and Cariad Lloyd creates an atmosphere and mood here that brings out the best in every guest. To ask people to talk about their greatest loss, their lowest moments, their most personal memories, requires an extraordinary ability and empathy from a broadcaster.
At the very end of the podcast, Cariad pauses and says ‘remember you are not alone’. At the time of writing Griefcast is Number one in the itunes chart. Cariad is now, very much, not alone.