Sometimes pottering around a museum or popping out to a talk might seem all too tricky. For days when you simply want to sit tight with a cosy cup of tea, online recordings are the answer. Here are a few Encorum favourites – a flavour of podcasts and videos for lifelong learners who can’t – or won’t – face the wind & rain again: 

The National Gallery

For Art History aficionados

Who knew? The National Gallery offers a wonderful programme of lively lectures in London – no doubt some of you have attended them yourselves. Fewer of us are aware, however, that the Gallery also shares recordings of their talks online here, as well as snippets exploring particular works in detail – such as the ‘History of Taste‘ series – or delving into aspects of recent exhibitions, including the widely publicised ‘Australia’s Impressionists‘, piquing the viewer’s interest and leaving you eager for more. From Michael Palin’s favourite paintings to the Colour & Vitality of Van Gogh with Special Projects Curator Colin Wiggins, there’s no shortage of insightful material to watch and to listen to – ideal for budding art historians based more than a stone’s throw from the capital!

The National Gallery on Youtube | Free

TED Talks

For ideas about almost anything & everything 

Explore modern notions of a global identity and sense of belonging with writer Taiye Selasi, or seek inspiration from the lovely Lisa Bu, for whom books have created a gateway to opportunity and growth. Founded in 1984, TED has developed into a series of conferences, sharing ‘ideas worth spreading‘, as they put it, through free videos on all manner of topics. Broadcast in more than one hundred languages and varying widely in length, these are a hands-down favourite of ours: perfect for a burst of thought-provoking knowledge on a drizzly afternoon. Poets, artists, scientists, comedians, inventors and great thinkers from across the world all have words of wit and wisdom to share. Where to begin? The most popular TED Talks of all time seems a fairly solid place to start.

TED Talks | TED Radio Hour | Free

Edinburgh Book Festival

For thoughts about books, history & literature, straight from the Scottish capital 

Can’t make it to Edinburgh? Never fear – the acclaimed Book Festival’s online audio and video archive is brimming with fabulous recordings of talks from the likes of human rights lawyer Philippe Sands, whose ‘East West Street‘ we pored over in spring 2017, to a short interview with David Crystal, who so delighted us at the Stratford Literary Festival – and whose ‘“You say Potato”: The Story of English Accents‘ seems wonderfully intriguing. The Festival’s YouTube channel is also home to a brilliant array of talks – and we’d be quick to point you in the direction of ‘Trading Stories‘, a playlist bringing together writers from across the world to explore how tales travel. Those featured included the highly-lauded Elif Shafak, Amit Chaudhuri and Joanne Harris, amongst a whole host of talented others.  Go on, have a listen, and spirit yourself away to Scotland!

Look & Listen at Edinburgh Book Festival | Ed Book Fest on YouTube | Free

Dan Snow’s History Hit

For History buffs – the clue is very much in the name!

A well-established weekly podcast linked to the media channel, Dan Snow’s History Hit is a treasure trove of interviews with highly regarded historians and writers – a wonderful way to wile away time on the train, to liven up a long drive, or to put on in the background as you potter around at home. Hear Ben Macintyre talk SAS: Rogue Heroes (and pick up a copy of his best-selling book here), consider Human Rights after Hitler with Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at SOAS, or listen as Anthony Ray Hinton recalls his 28 Years on Death Row in Alabama. From Chinese philosophy to women in the Navy, the Stuarts to B-25 bombers discovered at the bottom of the Pacific, there are terrific – and true – tales aplenty here, to suit a whole variety of tastes and areas of interest. The site is easy to navigate, and divisions into ‘WWI’ and “WW2′ make it even simpler to step back in time in just seconds. Plug in, sit back, and soak it all up.

History Hit Podcast | History Hit.TV | Free

Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts

For ideas aplenty – from the sunny Welsh countryside and further afield…

Missed this year’s Festival? Catch up with Hay Player, the Festival’s excellent array of audio and video recordings of past events. From Fiction to Science, Shakespeare to History and everything in between, there’s no shortage of ideas here – and from some top speakers too. Hear Max Hastings on The Secret War: 1939-45, Salman Rushdie in conversation with Jerry Brotton, Richard Dawkins on The Making of a Scientist, and Germaine Greer delving into Shakespeare’s poetry. Sure, there’s something special about being there, in the moment – with the sun shining, the bunting swaying gently in the breeze and the speaker right in front of you – but until we’ve all worked out how to hop back in time to last spring (and the one before that) this is as good as it gets. And it’s pretty good, we reckon.

Hay Player | £1 to listen to each talk

There are countless excellent videos and podcasts available online, simply awaiting discovery. Festivals, galleries and museums are the simplest place to start, as most will have online offerings to delight faraway listeners. If you have a particular favourite that we haven’t mentioned, do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you via – we’re always eager to find out about fabulous resources that we might never have thought about!


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