Unfiltered with James O'Brien || JOE-logo

Unfiltered with James O'Brien || JOE

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Podcast by Unfiltered with James O'Brien || JOE

Podcast by Unfiltered with James O'Brien || JOE
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Podcast by Unfiltered with James O'Brien || JOE




43 - Shaun Ryder: pills, thrills and Happy Mondays

Happy Mondays and Black Grape frontman Shaun Ryder joins a starstruck James O’Brien for a rock ’n’ roll rollercoaster of an interview. We journey from Shaun’s early days in ‘monochrome’ Manchester, to the formation of the Mondays, the technicolour highs and explosive lows of band life, break ups and reformations, coming off drugs and embarking on new journeys with Black Grape.


42 - Steve Aoki: Building movements, creating community and throwing cakes

He’s a DJ, a record label boss, a producer and an entrepreneur, but Steve Aoki is really only interested in one thing: building a community. This insightful interview with James O’Brien takes us through Steve’s journey to superstardom, from his childhood struggles with otherness and racism, finding solace in music and the constructive rage of hardcore punk, sowing the seeds of what would become his empire, and finding his way back to the stage as one of the biggest EDM performers in the...


41 - Adam Deacon: trauma, Kidulthood, spiralling down and climbing back

Adam Deacon broke into the British consciousness with his star-making turn in Kidulthood. But while his own movie Anuvahood won him a BAFTA, it led to a bleak period in his life that took over the headlines and saw Adam sectioned for his own safety. In this revealing and personal interview with James O’Brien, Adam shares his story, from his troubled childhood, finding shelter in acting, self-medicating with skunk weed, his much-publicised fallout with former friend and collaborator Noel...


40 - Mark Steel: stand-up, socialism and searching for answers

It’s a laugh-packed interview this week! James O’Brien chats to comedian Mark Steel about growing up in a town that was boring by design, the hilarious misadventures that come with living in a squat, Jeremy Corbyn and left-wing politics, and his varying degrees of success in trying to trace his biological parents. Oh, and Mark has possibly the deepest voice ever recorded on a podcast. Enjoy!


Unfiltered: The best bits you might have missed

James is away finishing his new book, so we’re doing things a little differently this week. Yes, it’s a ‘Best Of’, but it’s the best of the guests that might have slipped under your radar. They may not be household names, but they have rich and interesting stories that we think you’d like to check out. Normal service will resume with a brand new interview next week, but in the meantime you can go back and check out the episodes mentioned in the show here. Scroobius Pip:...


39 - Danny Wallace: the strange and wonderful adventures of an inquisitive man

What happens when you just say ‘yes’ to everything? What happens when you ask random people to join you, when you’ve no idea what you’re asking them to join? Danny Wallace asks these kind of questions, and boy, does he get answers. Danny joins James O’Brien for a witty and revealing interview about his his early days working with Ross Noble and The Mighty Boosh, having Jim Carrey play a version of him in a movie, and his undying belief that people, on the whole, are good.


38 - Vicky Beeching: the secret life of the poster girl for the Evangelical church

In the world of Christian music, Vicky Beeching was one of its biggest stars, but she had a secret, something she’d hidden away for over 20 years: she was gay. In this inspiring interview, Vicky takes James O’Brien through her journey, discovering a talent for music at a young age, her struggles reconciling her feelings with her faith, and a life-threatening illness that changed everything.


37 - Caitlin Moran: bad sex, good advice and how to be famous

Caitlin Moran has a lot to say. Some of it is rib-crackingly funny. Some of it is eye-opening and jaw-dropping. Not all of it is related to the human anatomy, but every word is worth your time. James O’Brien is certainly kept on his toes in this whipcrack of an interview, covering everything from masturbation to politics, Love Island to feminism, and a lot of chat about vaginas. Strap in, folks. We’re going full force on this one.


36 - Howard Jacobson on Jewish comedy, identity, and the dismal state of the world

Novelist, journalist and top-notch conversationalist Howard Jacobson joins James O’Brien for a gloriously sprawling interview, exploring everything from Howard’s birth during a WWII bombing raid, his disdain for “the will of the people”, everyday antisemitism, and his late success as an author, proving beyond proof that it’s never too late for anyone to become what they were meant to be.


35 - Dave Haslam on Madchester, ecstasy, the Haçienda and the art of DJing

In the late 1980s, something was happening in Manchester. A melting pot of music, art and culture was bubbling away, ready to explode, and Dave Haslam was right there in the middle of it. In this fascinating interview, the DJ and writer talks to James O’Brien about his passion for Manchester’s alternative music and culture, DJing at the Haçienda, the introduction of ecstasy to rave culture, and the soaring highs and destructive lows that followed.


33 - Ronan Farrow on bringing down Harvey Weinstein, Trump’s America, and the power of the pen

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow normally asks the questions, but this time he’s in the hot seat. In this sharp and incisive interview with James O’Brien, Ronan takes us through his prodigious childhood, working in the Obama administration at 21, then going on to forge a career in journalism, most famously as one of the reporters who broke the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and now training his eye on the decline of American global influence, both under Trump and before.


32 - Akala: race and class in the ruins of empire

Rapper, poet and scholar Akala joins James O’Brien for a scintillating interview, in which they discuss two issues that run to the heart of modern Britain: race and class. In a breakneck hour of conversation, Akala picks apart many of the modern myths around gangs, street violence and black youth, looking at the ways these are perpetuated in the media and who benefits from perpetuating them, as well as looking back to the Windrush generation and the institutionalised injustices that led to...


31 - Michelle Lyons: 278 executions, and life watching death row prisoners’ final minutes

In her time working with and for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Michelle Lyons was witness to nearly 300 executions, and though she watched hundreds of inmates be put to death, she’s one of the most cheerful people you could ever meet. In this extraordinary interview with James O’Brien, Michelle takes us into the execution chamber, into the lives of the inmates that she came to know, and the personal, professional and moral conflict she was forced to grapple with. Last chance to...


30 - Jamie Oliver: The Naked Chef’s crusade to change the world

More than almost any other Unfiltered guest so far, you know exactly who Jamie Oliver is. Except, you don’t. In a revealing and impassioned interview with James O’Brien, Jamie takes us back to being a young boy in Essex working in his parents’ pub, not only discovering his passion for food, but his passion for what food can do. The Naked Chef saw Jamie become a household name overnight, and while he may have sold a few cookery books off the back of it, his fame enabled him to pursue the...


29 - Plan B on rap, soul and our degraded moral system

Before he was Plan B, a young man called Ben Drew was growing up in London’s Forest Gate. With a guitar and the music of Smokey Robinson to work with, Ben set about becoming what he is today: a chronicler of our times. In this enthralling interview with James O’Brien, Ben shares his story, a story that is inextricably tied to his music, experiencing violence at home from a young age and losing friends to crack and heroin, and how he channelled those stories into songs, breaking into the...


28 - Shappi Khorsandi: Revolution, assassination plots, and stand-up comedy

You know comedian Shappi Khorsandi from Live at the Apollo and her legendary shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, but Shappi was learning how to make people laugh well before she picked up the mic. In this funny, fascinating, and at times emotional interview with James O’Brien, Shappi shares the story of her family fleeing Iran in the face of revolution, the uncovering of an assassination plot against her father and the paranoia that revelation instilled in her family, and her struggles adapting...


27 - Nigel Owens: struggles with sexuality and the road to self-acceptance

Arguably the best rugby union referee in the world, known for his witty one-liners and no-nonsense attitude, Nigel Owen’s career highs came with some unimaginable lows. In this vulnerable and moving interview with James O’Brien, Nigel shares his struggle as a young man in rural Wales coming to terms with his sexuality, surviving a suicide attempt at the age of 26, and his journey of self-acceptance that led him to the top of his game. Vote for Unfiltered at the British Podcast Awards! Head...


26 - Russell Kane: robbed by birth, funny by nature

In one of the funniest Unfiltered interviews to date, James O’Brien meets the whirlwind that is comedian Russell Kane who, as you’re about to discover, has a lot to say. The pair cover everything, from Russell’s relationship with his rough ’n’ tough father, to his unique passion for watches; from the stresses and pressures that success put on your relationships, to the realisation that his working class upbringing was going to hold him back, but he wasn’t about to let that happen....


23 - Lord Alf Dubs: escaping the Nazis and fighting for refugees

As the Nazis closed in on Prague, a six-year-old Alf Dubs was carried away from his native Czechoslovakia on the Kindertransport rescue operation that saved 669 predominantly Jewish children. In a remarkable interview with James O’Brien, Lord Dubs talks about the modest bravery of Nicholas Winton, the man who organised the rescue, growing up in Britain with a love of politics, the horrors he witnessed in the Calais Jungle, and spending his life fighting for the rights of refugees even...


20 - Scroobius Pip: rap, poetry, podcasts, and the stutter that started it all

After almost drowning at the age of four, Scroobius Pip developed a stutter. Not only did it not stop him from becoming a successful rapper, spoken word poet, actor and fellow podcaster, he believes it was directly responsible for all of it. He joins James O’Brien for a fun and thought-provoking interview that will leave you believing that you too can do anything, just as long as you put your mind to it.