Table of contents
So far, we’ve released almost 100 episodes this year (89 to be precise).
Here, I wanted to share my favourite 12 episodes. Sometimes my favourite ones have also been very popular, in other cases my favourite ones have been a little more niche.
But all of them, in their different ways, have been fun to make, and I hope you’ve enjoyed them.
My Favourite Free Episodes
In the first section, I wanted to share my favourite free episodes.
You can listen to any of these without a membership, so if you haven’t done so already, here are–I think at least–the best ones from this year.
Keep on reading until the end to see my favourite member-only ones, and find out which one I wrote and recorded with COVID...
Episode 234: The Future of The British Royal Family
This episode was released in February 2022, just before the Queen celebrated her 70th anniversary of being on the throne.
In it, we looked at what might happen when Queen Elizabeth eventually dies, who will come next, and what this might mean.
Just over 7 months later, Queen Elizabeth died, meaning that some of the ideas in this episode could be put to the test. Give it a listen and see how right (or wrong) they were…
Episode 238: A Short History Of Tea
Not only was this a very fun one to make, it has also been one of the most popular episodes this year.
Perhaps it’s understandable why - people from all over the world drink tea every day, so it’s a familiar subject to billions of people.
Episode 250: A History of Smoking
This was another fun one to make, and it’s second only to the episode on tea in terms of popularity.
Again, perhaps this is completely understandable. Over a billion people smoke around the world, and if you’re not one of them, you probably have friends or relatives who are.
Understanding where this habit comes from is clearly of interest to lots of people.
Episode 240: The Rise and Fall of Boris Johnson
If you listened to this episode when it came out, in February 2022, you’ll remember that Boris Johnson was still the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
The episode talked about his inevitable fall, but he hadn’t yet fallen.
It did take some time, and in fact the country is already on its second Prime Minister since Boris Johnson, but the inevitable did happen: Johnson did fall.
Episode 278: Londongrad: Why Russian Oligarchs Fell In Love With Britain’s Capital
Interestingly enough, this episode wasn’t actually very popular, but it was still one of my favourite ones.
If you haven’t listened to it already, it might surprise you to find out that London was (and perhaps even still is) the location of choice for Russian oligarchs, with a financial and legal system that makes it incredibly easy to hide money away from prying eyes.
Episode 292: Chess & The Cold War
Did you know that the game of chess was used as an important tool in the Cold War?
This episode talks about how this worked in practice, some of the characters involved, and some strange scenes between chess players.
Perhaps it’s even more interesting now when contemplating how games and sports will be used in 2023 and beyond.
Bonus: Daphne Caruana Galizia Mini Series
This isn’t a single episode but a three-part mini-series. It was difficult to make, because the subject matter is more personal than any of the others, but the reception has been very good so far.
If you haven’t listened to it yet, this mini-series describes the assassination of Malta’s most famous journalist, the political corruption she had uncovered, and the national scandal that unfolded afterwards.
My Favourite Member-only Episodes
In case you weren’t aware, members of Leonardo English get access to all of our bonus episodes, as well as the transcripts, interactive vocabulary, and subtitles.
My favourite episodes are normally reserved for members, and here are six of my favourite ones.
Episode 229: Doomsday Cults
It’s a fascinating thought exercise to ask oneself what it might take to believe something that seems so strange and unlikely. In this episode, we looked at four doomsday cults, and even learned the gruesome origin of the English term “to drink the kool-aid”
Fun fact: I wrote and recorded this episode when I had COVID...can you tell?
Episode 255: The Cobra Effect
In a perfect world, humans can be persuaded to do certain things with a combination of a carrot and a stick, of incentives and disincentives.
Unfortunately, these incentives often have completely different effects.
In this fun episode, we explored how well-intended policies led to very unexpected outcomes.
Episode 265: Fentanyl: The Drug Devastating America
If you had to think of what the number one cause of death for Americans aged under 45 would be, perhaps you might say car accidents, guns or COVID.
You’d be very wrong. It’s a powerful opioid called Fentanyl, and it kills 195 Americans every day. The situation is so bad that it has actually caused the US life expectancy to reduce.
In this interesting but provocative episode, we explore what’s really happening.
Episode 287: Humans For Lunch | A Short History of Cannibalism
Why would a person eat another person? It’s certainly a good question, but as we discuss in this episode, there are plenty of reasons for it.
This was a really interesting one to make, it was very popular, but if you decide to listen to it I’d recommend not doing so over lunch.
Episode 289: King Leopold II of Belgium | The Butcher of Congo
You might well have heard of King Leopold, and know something about general Belgian “misbehaviour” in the Congo, but you might be shocked to find out quite how inhumane and abhorrent it was.
In this episode, we explored how a man got himself the nickname of “The Butcher of Congo”, and why he managed to get away with it for so long.
Episode 295: Eli Cohen | Mossad's Man In Damascus
Sometimes great episodes write themselves, and this certainly fits into this category. In this episode we tell the story of the brave Israeli spy, Eli Cohen.
Through a combination of courage, quick thinking and charisma he managed to work his way into the Syrian elite and almost became the Syrian Deputy Minister of Defence.
These are only a small selection of my favourite episodes. You can find the rest of our 300+ episodes over at our podcasts page. If you’d like to unlock all of our bonus episodes (some of the best ones), I’d love for you to check out becoming a member of Leonardo English.