Subscriber OnlyTV & Radio

The Rest Is Entertainment: Richard Osman and Marina Hyde know so much about the darnedest things

Podcast review: Choose your lane, get two or three experts with personality and enough passion for the subject - and watch your listener count rocket

If you’d told me back in the early 1990s that the baby-faced, mild-mannered Tottenham Hotspur goalscoring machine who pooped his pants against Ireland at Italia ’90 would become a media mogul noted for his outspoken political views, I would have laughed in your face. But Gary Lineker, of Walkers crisps fame, has become a bit of a Midas in British audio media, his Goalhanger stable producing some of the most successful podcasts in the world. Who’s laughing now, eh?

The formula, as this column has mentioned before, runs along the lines of: choose your lane, get two or three experts with personality and enough passion for the subject to take each other on occasionally – but not so much that it ruins their chemistry – and watch your listener count rocket. The formula has worked for Sports, History, Politics and Money – and we’re at it again with the latest entry in the Rest Is line-up, The Rest Is Entertainment.

This time, they’ve dramatically tweaked the formula by introducing a woman’s voice to the mix. (Okay, fine: The Rest Is Money, which launched last August, also features a female ‘caster, in the form of the journalist Steph McGovern. Clearly she didn’t break anything, so Lineker et al felt daring enough to try it again with the glorious Marina Hyde.)

The Rest Is Entertainment launched last November, just in time to dig into such weighty topics as Nigel Farage appearing on I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, the Robbie Williams vs David Beckham vs Ronnie O’Sullivan documentaries, and the Netflix data dump. It has been an illuminating weekly digest. What we get is a tidy half-hour or so of Hyde, the Guardian columnist with a veritable PhD in the entertainment industry and a steel-trap mind, and the affable murder-mystery writer Richard Osman, a man about whom I knew embarrassingly little before tuning in but who has wooed me with his brazen respect for television and close relationship to the 1990s indie rockers Suede. (The band’s bassist, Mat Osman, is his brother.)


These two know so much about the darnedest things: the lives of Gladiators contestants, the number ones of Christmas past, the dead-celebrity industry (aka “delebs”, FYI) and the temperature of the food served on cooking shows. On episodes various they opine on entertainment news, offer their own cultural recommendations, and answer questions from a pretty savvy audience.

Robbie Williams vs David Beckham: Patrick Freyne on the year of the PR-driven celebrity documentary

Listen | 27:56

It’s a boon that these two don’t try too hard to chum it up; nor do they lean into argumentative theatrics, although their tastes differ enough for them to offer occasionally opposing viewpoints on things like Mrs Brown’s Boys. (One doesn’t watch it at all; one says it’s a classic of the genre.) And like all of the Rest Is-es, the success is down to their eloquence and expertise: they know what they’re talking about, and they do it in a way that’s both informative and easy to listen to.

The brilliance is that in doing so, and joining the elite Rest Is family, they have also elevated their realm of entertainment, oft-derided as low culture by those more comfortable with Farage the politician than with Farage the reality-television star, to something arguably in need of our attention as much as politics or history. After all, both Farages have plenty to say about who we are and where we’re going, but the telly Farage is reaching a larger audience.

Fiona McCann

Fiona McCann, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer, journalist and cohost of the We Can’t Print This podcast