Episodes
Well this one was quite intimidating, to be honest. My guest this week is Baroness Hale of Richmond, one of this country's finest legal minds. She was the first woman President of the supreme court, the youngest and first female commissioner to be appointed to the Law Commission and has been dubbed the Beyoncé of the legal world owing to her popularity among young law students. But you might just know her best for her spider brooch, which she wore in 2019 while delivering a stinging ruling...
Published 10/13/21
Today, I welcome the inimitable Stanley Tucci. His talents are legion: he's an Academy Award nominated actor whose credits include everything from The Devil Wears Prada to The Hunger Games and Julie & Julia. He's also a notable foodie, and the presenter of the Emmy-award-winning Searching for Italy and a beautiful memoir, Taste: My Life Through Food, which is published on Thursday. And,  of course, he's the  negroni-making Instagram sensation whose lockdown cocktail skills launched a...
Published 10/06/21
[TW: eating disorders] Oh but how I *love* today's guest. Ruby Tandoh is the former Great British Bake Off contestant who went on to write cookery books, a manifesto for eating what you want (Eat Up), a column for the Guardian and pieces for the New Yorker, among other prestigious publications. Her new book, published next month, is called Cook As You Are and contains 100 original recipes accessible to real home cooks, no matter their age, budget, ability or background. She joins me to...
Published 09/29/21
[TW: discussion around suicide] This week's guest, Ramla Ali, is the first Somali boxer ever to compete at the Olympic Games. Ramla was born in Mogadishu, shortly before the outbreak of a brutal civil war. After her eldest brother was killed by a grenade while playing in the garden, the family embarked on a perilous journey to leave - first to Kenya, where they survived on Unicef food rations, and later to the UK where they claimed asylum.  In London, Ramla first took up boxing to lose...
Published 09/22/21
Today my guest is the excellent Phil Wang, stand-up comedian and soon-to-be published author. As a comic, Wang has appeared on a host of comedy panel shows including Would I Lie To You? and 8 out of 10 Cats. During the pandemic, he became the first UK comedian to tape and release a Netflix special at a sold-out London Palladium. His new memoir, Sidesplitter: How To Be From Two Worlds At Once examines his dual identity as the son of a white British mother and a Chinese-Malaysian father. He...
Published 09/15/21
Dame Jacqueline Wilson is the beloved children’s author of over 100 books and the creator of one of the most memorable characters of all time: Tracy Beaker. But it wasn’t until her 40s that Jacqueline became a bestseller. Now, at 75, she remains as indefatigable as ever. Her latest book, The Primrose Railway Children, a reimagining of E. Nesbit’s children’s classic, is published next week. She joins me to talk about her failure to be practical, her failure as an actress and her failure to...
Published 09/08/21
Today, to mark the publication of my new novel Magpie, I bring you an EXTRA-SPECIAL TREAT in the form of the wonderful Tanya Reynolds. Tanya is a brilliant actress who plays Lily in the hit Netflix show Sex Education and was recently seen on our screens as Mrs Elton in the remake of Emma, starring Anya Taylor-Joy. She's ridiculously talented, an all-round legend and also, as my tremendous good luck would have it, the audiobook narrator for Magpie - this episode even includes an exclusive...
Published 09/02/21
My first guest for Season 12 is mind-blowing in the truest sense of the word. Derren Brown has had a 20-year television and stage career, during which he has deployed magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship with extraordinary - and sometimes - controversial results. He played Russian roulette live on screen. He predicted the results of the National Lottery. He convinced law-abiding citizens to rob a bank. He's also a painter and bestselling author. All of the facets of his...
Published 09/01/21
When I started this podcast, I had a list of dream guests.* At the top was Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her third novel, Americanah, is one of my favourite books of all time. I can remember exactly where I was when I read it. I was moved by the power of its epic sweep, the brilliance of its observations and the characters who made your heart break. But although she's an amazing writer, Chimamanda's cultural reach goes much further than the literary world. Her TED Talks are among the most...
Published 07/28/21
For our season finale, I bring you the glorious Maggie O'Farrell. She is one of my favourite authors, and her books include the highly acclaimed novels After You'd Gone, The Hand That First Held Mine, Instructions for a Heatwave and the bestselling memoir I Am, I Am, I Am. Her most recent work of fiction, Hamnet, imagined the untold story of Shakespeare’s son who died at the age of 11. It won the 2020 Women’s Prize. She joins me to talk about resurrecting the untold stories of women, how to...
Published 07/14/21
SHE'S BAAAAAACK! To mark the third anniversary of How To Fail, I invite back the one and only Dolly Alderton. Dolly was one of my first ever guests in the debut season of How To Fail, way back in the mists of time (by which I mean the summer of 2018). Back then, she had just published her memoir Everything I Know About Love a few months earlier. She could have had little idea of the success that was to follow: it became a bestseller, won Autobiography of the Year at the National Book...
Published 07/11/21
Martine Wright is a survivor of the 7/7 London terrorist bombings. Sixteen years ago today, she was travelling on a Circle Line tube to Aldgate station on the morning of 7th July 2005, when a suicide bomber sitting three feet away from her set off an explosion that would change her life forever. She lost both of her legs and was in a coma for 10 days after which she underwent a year of intensive rehab and multiple surgeries. Astonishingly, Martine went on to become an international sitting...
Published 07/07/21
[TW: sexual abuse] Today, my guest is the absolute PEACH of a human that is Paris Lees. Paris is an award-winning journalist and a Contributing Editor for British Vogue. She was the first trans woman to present on BBC Radio 1 and Channel 4 and the first to appear on Question Time. Her recently published memoir, What It Feels Like For A Girl, is the uniquely told, semi-fictionalised story of her childhood in Nottinghamshire - which included a spell as a rent boy and an eight-month prison...
Published 06/30/21
Christie Watson is a nurse turned bestselling author who went back to frontline nursing during the Covid-19 pandemic. But if you were to call her a 'hero' she would refuse the label - and during the course of this interview, she tells me why. Watson left school at 16 and volunteered at a charity before training to become a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital. She spent the next 20 years in hospitals in various disciplines and mainly in paediatric intensive care. Alongside that, she...
Published 06/23/21
My guest today is Guvna B, the MOBO-award winning rapper, author and broadcaster. He grew up on a council estate in East London and went on to study at the University of Hertfordshire before forging a full-time career in music. He's since released 10 albums and a memoir, Unspoken, in which he examines toxic masculinity and male identity. Guvna B - otherwise known as Isaac Borquaye - joins me to talk about the death of his father, and two of his close friends, and how he had to address his...
Published 06/16/21
I absolutely loved this interview. Whatever your preconceptions about politicians, please set them aside, because you're about to meet Ed Miliband: former leader of the Labour Party, current shadow business secretary, fellow podcaster and author of a new book, Go Big: How To Fix Our World. Ed joins me to discuss his failure to win the 2015 general election, suffering from anxiety, failing to get the degree he worked so hard for and a failure to keep his late father, the noted Marxist...
Published 06/09/21
Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill is an Olympic heptathlon gold medallist and a three-time world champion. This is a woman who knows what it takes to succeed at the very highest levels, and who has learned to process failure when she doesn't win. I learned so much from her insight. And she's still only 35! We had a truly fascinating conversation about the psychology of competitiveness, the importance of loyalty and roots, how injury taught her the value of rest and how losing the 2011 World...
Published 06/02/21
What better way to kick off a new season of interviews by interviewing one of the very best interviewers? INTIMIDATED, ME? Pahahahahaha. We open Season 11 of How To Fail with the peerless, hilarious and warm Graham Norton. Chat show host extraordinaire, bestselling author and beloved radio presenter, he joins me to talk about his failure to become an actor, to crack America and to throw a ball (no, really). We also talk about the art of the interview, his workaholic tendencies and, in an...
Published 05/26/21
TW: discussions about suicide For Mental Health Awareness Week, we have a very special bonus episode with Dr Alex George. A former Love Island contestant who after exiting the villa, returned to his job as an A&E doctor. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, he’s been hard at work on the frontline. Behind the scenes, he has had to cope with devastating personal tragedy - his younger brother, Llyr, died by suicide in July 2020. Alex’s openness about his own mental health has been a comfort for...
Published 05/12/21
I'm almost too excited to write this but..for this extra-special bonus episode, I bring you none other than Adrian Dunbar: the man, the myth, the legend who plays Superintendent Ted Hastings in one of my favourite ever TV shows Line of Duty. If you're watching season six of Jed Mercurio's addictive police procedural, I suspect you will be obsessed with this interview (and yes, of course I ask him about 'H') but if you've never seen Line of Duty, I promise you'll still love it because Adrian...
Published 04/07/21
It's the season finale, so obviously I insisted our last guest be a Nobel Prize winner and...HERE HE IS! Kazuo Ishiguro, arguably one of our greatest writers of contemporary fiction, and a very lovely man to boot. His most famous book, The Remains of the Day, was written when Ishiguro was only 35. It won the Booker Prize and was adapted into a major film starring Antony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. His other works, including Never Let Me Go and The Buried Giant, collectively earned him the...
Published 03/24/21
On an excitement scale of 1-10 I am currently at a 15 because this week's guest...is my best friend. As well as being my bff (arguably her most important qualification, I'm sure you'll agree) Emma Reed Turrell is also a brilliant psychotherapist and the author of what is destined to become a must-read book, Please Yourself: How to Stop People-Pleasing and Transform the Way You Live. This is the manual every single self-identifying people pleaser needs to read (and in fact, even those who...
Published 03/17/21
Today's episode is an important one. Jim Down is an ICU doctor on the frontline of the Covid crisis. He is a consultant in critical care and anaesthesia at University College London Hospital, running the intensive care unit at one of London’s busiest hospitals, where life and death decisions are an everyday occurrence. Despite having spent all his adult life working in these conditions, nothing could have prepared Jim Down for Covid-19. As the pandemic descended in spring 2020, Down found...
Published 03/10/21
This week, Dr Nicole LePera is here to blow your mind. Better known to many as The Holistic Psychologist on Instagram, where she has over 3.4 million followers, Le Pera has gained huge popularity by breaking down complex but helpful psychotherapeutic ideas into accessible, and often life-changing, social media posts. A trained clinical psychologist, LePera was frustrated by the separation between body and mind in some traditional therapy. Now she's put her theories into a book, How To Do The...
Published 03/03/21
Emma Barnett is the presenter of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, a gifted broadcaster whose forensic interviewing style has reduced politicians to gibbering wrecks and whose compassion and insight can move listeners to tears. She's also the author of Period: It’s About Bloody Time, a book borne out of her own experience of living with painful endometriosis which for years went undiagnosed. At the time of recording, her book was about to come out in paperback, but that's been pushed back to 8th...
Published 02/24/21