Episodes
For the next four weeks, we'll be introducing you to four 'ordinary' people with four extraordinary stories as part of a one-off How To Fail miniseries in partnership with Grey Goose. First up: Yinka Bokinni, a radio DJ who grew up on the North Peckham Estate in South London. She was the childhood friend of Damilola Taylor, the 10-year-old schoolboy stabbed to death in a stairwell on his way back from the library in 2000. Yinka joins me to talk about how this experience shaped her, why...
Published 11/25/20
For our second and final bonus episode this season, I bring you the dulcet tones of actor Jamie Dornan. Most recently seen in The Fall (currently on Netflix and BBC iPlayer) playing a serial killer with an incongruously happy family life, Dornan is also well-known for starring as Christian Grey in all three of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie adaptations, which brought him to the worldwide attention of millions. He joins me to talk about failures in acting, failures at school and a failure to...
Published 11/04/20
It is such an honour to welcome the extraordinary Claudia Rankine to the podcast. She is a poet, playwright and essayist, a woman who's life's work has been devoted to the interrogation of race and white supremacy and to the discovery of what connects - and divides - us as human beings. Her 2014 book, Citizen: An American Lyric is the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the non-fiction category. It also won the Forward Poetry Prize. Her latest work, Just Us, explores a...
Published 10/28/20
Yes, it's the SEASON FINALE - I know, I know, it comes around so quickly doesn't it? But fear not, for we have an excellent guest in the form of James Acaster: comedian, podcaster, author and music enthusiast (specifically enthusiastic for anything released in 2016, which he claims in his book, Perfect Sound Whatever, is the best year for music dot dot dot ever). As well as being the only British stand-up to have fronted a four-part Netflix special, James co-hosts the Off Menu podcast. He...
Published 10/14/20
You asked - and we listened. Welcome to one of the most requested podcast guests of all time, the wonderful Nadiya Hussain. Baker, tv presenter, author and all-round good egg, Nadiya joins me to talk about her failure to enjoy life, her failure to finish university and her failure to speak out on issues she subsequently realised were important for a public figure to tackle - such as race, identity and the issues we face as a country (such a self-aware failure, that). We also discuss her...
Published 10/07/20
***SPECIAL EPISODE KLAXON*** To mark the publication of my new book, Failosophy, I take a trip down memory lane and share my favourite moments from the How To Fail archive, featuring Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Mo Gawdat, Alain de Botton and many, many more. AND I discuss the three personal failures that many lovely listeners sent in - they're funny and insightful and moving (best have a hankie nearby, is all I'm saying). Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to write in and to all of you...
Published 09/30/20
I'VE GOT A TEXT...MESSAGE. This week's guest is Ovie Soko, a man who entered the Love Island villa in 2019 and rapidly became iconic by uttering this phrase. But he's so much more than a reality TV star: famed for his laid-back charm and wise advice, Ovie is also a professional basketball player and a soon-to-be-published author. His debut book, You Are Dope, is out next week. Ovie joins me to talk about almost getting expelled from school, cheating on a girlfriend and being caught stealing...
Published 09/23/20
I've wanted to get this guest on for ages and now - hooray! - here she is: the inimitable Ruby Wax. Ruby started out as an actress at the RSC, took a side-step into comedy and had a hugely successful television career, interviewing everyone from Madonna and Imelda Marcos to the Spice Girls. But, after living with depression all her life and a series of breakdowns, she got a Masters from Oxford University in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy and is now a mental health campaigner and...
Published 09/16/20
At the age of 80, Annie Nightingale still manages to be one of the most forward-looking and future-facing people I've ever interviewed. She is the legendary Radio 1 DJ - the first woman ever to get a job at the station and now the BBC's longest-serving presenter and a vital force in British music. Annie joins me to talk about confronting sexism, breaking the mould, getting the best of of interviewees and what it's like to have met everyone from David Bowie to Paul McCartney to Eminem and Jim...
Published 09/09/20
Mohsin Zaidi's memoir, A Dutiful Boy, is one of the most powerful and emotive books I've read this year. It tells the story of his upbringing in a poor pocket of east London, in a devout Shia Muslim community. His family were close-knit and religiously conservative. From a young age, Mohsin knew that his sexuality was a secret he had to hide in a household where being gay was viewed as an inconceivable taboo. Despite these personal struggles, Mohsin became the first person from his...
Published 09/02/20
IT'S SEASON NINE AND I FEEL FINE, BABY! And we open with a humdinger - the podcasting king, comedy legend and all-round thoroughly decent bloke that is...[drum roll + X Factor announcer voice]...ADAM BUXTON. Adam joins me to talk about misdirected perfectionism, dropping out of university, mid-life crises and what it means to be a parent after the death of your own. We talk about privilege, being sent to boarding school aged nine, whether he feels rivalry with his astonishingly successful...
Published 08/26/20
GLORIA STEINEM. Gloria ACTUAL Steinem.   For this very special bonus episode, I had the absolute honour of interviewing one of my all-time heroes, the feminist activist, writer and icon, Gloria Steinem. And yes, I'm still pinching myself.   We talk about her failure to understand her mother, her failure to be at her father's deathbed and her failure to learn lessons quickly enough - yes, we go deep... She also talks to me about how, at the age of 86, she is joyfully outliving society's...
Published 08/05/20
It is the SEASON FINALE, BABY! I know, I know - it goes so quickly doesn't it? But here we are, two months after we started season eight, with a truly phenomenal guest. Bernardine Evaristo was the first black woman to win the Booker Prize, with her stunning novel, Girl Woman Other. She joins me to talk about her failure to be an actor, her failure to drive from London to Australia (hey, it happens to the best of us) and...brilliantly...her failure to be a lesbian. Along the way, we talk about...
Published 07/22/20
Siena Castellon is my youngest ever guest. She's a 17-year-old activist and mentor. She is autistic, has dyslexia and dyspraxia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. And she's just published her first book. Her book, The Spectrum Girl's Survival Guide: How to Grow Up Awesome and Autistic, is a brilliant guide for neurodiverse girls navigating a neurotypical world. It is packed full of information and insight into many of the challenges that autistic teen girls face. There are sections...
Published 07/15/20
This week, I bring you the utterly sensational Glennon Doyle. She is the author of three books, the latest of which, Untamed, is a memoir that defies easy categorisation - somewhat like the woman herself. Untamed is thrilling, original and brave. In it, Glennon dismantles our socialised preconceptions of what women should be and challenges us all to look at the boxes we're trapped in that are not of our own making. She joins me to talk about all of this, and about why women are taught to...
Published 07/08/20
Today's guest is someone I fell in platonic love with by reading her work. Julia Samuel is one of the country's leading psychotherapists but she is also well-known as an author. Her first book, Grief Works, was a Sunday Times bestseller and is routinely cited as one of the most helpful and compassionate books on bereavement you will ever read. Her second book, This Too Shall Pass, Stories of Change, Crisis and Hopeful Beginnings, was published just before lockdown and could not have been a...
Published 07/01/20
Scarlett Moffatt was working at the checkout in Asda when she and he family got the chance to be on Channel 4's Gogglebox. She rapidly became the show's break-out star with her brilliant one-liners. Television fame followed - she co-presented with Ant and Dec, won 2016's I'm A Celebrity and now hosts the official podcast for Rupaul’s Drag Race UK. But with her overnight celebrity also came increased scrutiny and criticism. She joins me to talk about becoming an accidental famous person and...
Published 06/24/20
Matthew Syed is an acclaimed author, newspaper columnist and broadcaster. He is also, in many ways, is the father of failure. I mean that as a compliment, obviously. Through his seminal, bestselling books - Bounce, Black Box Thinking and his latest, Rebel Ideas - he has shown again and again that failure can actually be the richest seam of data acquisition.  His interest in making mistakes in order to evolve started, incongruously, with table tennis. He was the British number one in 1995 but...
Published 06/17/20
*This episode was recorded before recent tragic events in America. There are links to useful Black Lives Matter resources and ways to help below* You know when you read someone's work and feel like you'd be friends in real life, and you become basically a little obsessed and Google them to inhale all the online content that is out there about this person and their work and THEN you get to to meet them and despite thinking they couldn't possibly live up to all your overhyped expectation, they...
Published 06/10/20
*This episode was recorded before recent tragic events in America. There are links to useful Black Lives Matter resources and ways to help below* WE'RE BAAAAAACCCCKKKK just like Backstreet, The Mack, and the toilet roll that's now in stock again in Sainsbury's. And what a guest I have for you! It is the one, the only, Jessie Ware. Not only is she one of my favourite singer-songwriters (four Brit nominations to her name, three top-ten albums and a whopping 120 million streams on Spotify for...
Published 06/03/20
Ok, so I said I was done with the special lockdown episodes but, forgive me, I CHANGED MY MIND. The reason for this is that I watched Normal People and thought it was the most exceptional piece of television I've seen in...well...an absolute age, and I basically hunted down Daisy Edgar-Jones like the obsessive fan I was until she agreed to be interviewed by me. And so here it is: Daisy Edgar-Jones, who gave the performance of a lifetime as Marianne in the BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney's...
Published 05/20/20
In the last of four special episodes specifically designed to help you through lockdown and Covid-19 anxiety, I welcome the fashion designer Henry Holland onto the podcast. This week, How To Fail returns to its usual format of discussing three failures but I've chosen to make this a special episode because one of Henry's failures will speak directly to a lot of people right now. It is the failure of his business, House of Holland, a failure linked to the impact of Coronavirus and which has...
Published 04/22/20
Published 04/22/20
For this extra-special listener episode, I asked you to get in touch with your stories. And you did not let me down. I received so many responses that when I printed them out they ran to over 100 pages of typed text. I wished I could read every single one of them out, but that would have taken quite a long time, so I did the best I could and picked a selection of the most moving, most eloquent, most reassuring, most funny, most inspiring, most heroic stories you are ever likely to hear. I...
Published 04/15/20
In the second of two special episodes, the renowned philosopher Alain de Botton, returns to How To Fail With Elizabeth Day to talk about how to be human and how to stay (relatively) sane in the grip of a global pandemic. We talk about the fact that, right now, it's rational to be a little demented and how we should all take lessons from our childhood and be less ashamed of bursting into tears when we really need to. He tells me about the merits of stoicism, the comfort that comes from...
Published 03/31/20