How To Fail With Elizabeth Day
S6, Ep7 How to Fail: Fearne Cotton

S6, Ep7 How to Fail: Fearne Cotton

November 6, 2019

Fearne Cotton blazed the trail for podcasts like mine. When she launched Happy Place in March 2018, it went straight to the top of the iTunes chart and has seemingly stayed there ever since. It has done so much to bring discussions about mental health into the mainstream, partly because Fearne has also been honest about her own experiences with panic attacks and anxiety.

So when I started How To Fail in July 2018, I always knew Fearne would be top of my list of dream guests. A few months later, we ended up sitting next to each other at the British Podcast Awards (spoiler alert: neither of us won but embarrassingly, we both presented awards to other winners) and having a good old natter, and then I was sent to interview her for a magazine and we got on so well that we hatched the idea of doing each other's podcasts now HERE WE ARE.

What makes Fearne so special is not just her impressive broadcasting career as a TV and radio presenter, or her bestselling books or the fact that she turned Happy Place into a full-blown festival, complete with yoga workshops and inspiring talks. No, it's that she is unafraid to be honest. She believes, as I do, that true strength comes from true vulnerability, and it's these qualities that make her a phenomenal guest.

Fearne joins me to talk about failing most of her GCSEs, a failed engagement and, in one of the most powerful passages of any interview I've ever had the privilege of doing, about her failure to be herself in her 20s and how she lived with an eating disorder for years. This is the first time she has ever spoken about it, and I am so truly grateful that Fearne felt this was a safe enough space to bare her beautiful soul.

Thank you, Fearne. Your words and your courage will help a great many people.

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The How To Fail Live tour is almost over. SNIFF! There are limited tickets left for Belfast with Sinead Burke (14th November) and Gateshead with Jess Phillips MP (8th December). Dublin with Amy Huberman (15th November) has SOLD OUT! Thank you! These events are not recorded as podcasts so the only way to be there is to book tickets via www.faneproductions.com/howtofail

The Sunday Times Top 5 bestselling book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day, is out now and is available here.

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You can listen to Fearne Cotton's Happy Place here

This season of How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp and sponsored by Sweaty Betty. Sweaty Betty are offering listeners 20% off full-price items with the code HOWTOFAIL

To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Fearne Cotton @fearnecotton

Sweaty Betty @sweatybetty

 

 

 

 

 

 

S6, Ep6 How to Fail: George Alagiah

S6, Ep6 How to Fail: George Alagiah

October 30, 2019

For 15 years, George Alagiah has been a familiar face on our television screens as the presenter of the BBC's Six O'Clock News. Before that, he was one of the corporation's most respected foreign correspondents. Before that, he was born in what was then Ceylon, the only boy in a family of four sisters, and was sent to boarding school in England at the age of 12.

George joins me to talk about his self-perceived failures at fatherhood, the challenges of reporting from the front-line in times of humanitarian crisis, his nuanced relationship with racial identity and how he dealt with racist incidents in his youth. He also talks movingly about his bowel cancer diagnosis in 2014, which has seen him undergo over 40 rounds of chemotherapy and make his peace with death. What struck me most about George was his elegance: in person, but also in expression. He has no anger or bitterness or stored-up resentment, and this to me is the definition of a quiet sort of heroism.

(Obviously I also asked him about BBC equal pay and if he'd watched Anchorman.)

I loved this interview. It moved me and made me think. I hope it does the same to you.

 

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The How To Fail Live tour is almost over. SNIFF! There are limited tickets left for Belfast with Sinead Burke (14th November) and Gateshead with Jess Phillips MP (8th December). Dublin with Amy Huberman (15th November) has SOLD OUT! Thank you! These events are not recorded as podcasts so the only way to be there is to book tickets via www.faneproductions.com/howtofail

The Sunday Times Top 5 bestselling book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day, is out now and is available here.

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George Alagiah's novel, The Burning Land, is out now and available here.

This season of How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp and sponsored by Sweaty Betty. Sweaty Betty are offering listeners 20% off full-price items with the code HOWTOFAIL

To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

George Alagiah @BBCAlagiah

Sweaty Betty @sweatybetty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S6, Ep5 How to Fail: Shirlie Kemp

S6, Ep5 How to Fail: Shirlie Kemp

October 23, 2019

Today, I welcome Shirlie Kemp to the podcast. She was an 80s icon: a backing dancer for Wham! who ACTUALLY APPEARED IN THE MUSIC VIDEO FOR 'LAST CHRISTMAS', as well as being a best friend to George Michael until his untimely death in 2016 at the age of 53. She was also one-half of the pop duo Pepsi & Shirlie and the wife of Martin Kemp, of Spandau Ballet fame (fun fact: their son, Roman, is the Capital Radio DJ).

Shirlie joins me to talk about what went on behind the scenes of fame and her memories of George, including the last conversation they ever had. She talks about her challenging council estate upbringing, feeling a failure at school and developing an eating disorder in her teens. We also discuss her long journey to self-confidence as a woman and how she and Martin coped with his brain tumour diagnosis in 1995, and what got them through those tough times as a couple. And we touch on the mean photography teacher whose criticism she will NEVER FORGET (but more fool him, because now she's an amazing photographer so there).

Thank you for coming on How To Fail, Shirlie: you are truly the loveliest woman.

  

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The How To Fail Live tour has now started! I will be at various venues around the UK and Ireland over the next two months, sharing my failure manifesto with the help of some very special guests. Limited tickets left! These events are not recorded as podcasts so the only way to be there is to book tickets via www.faneproductions.com/howtofail

The Sunday Times Top 5 bestselling book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day, is out now and is available here.

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Shirlie and Martin Kemp are releasing a joint album, In The Swing of It, next month. You can pre-order it here.

This season of How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp and sponsored by Sweaty Betty. Sweaty Betty are offering listeners 20% off full-price items with the code HOWTOFAIL

To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Shirlie Kemp @shirliekemp

Sweaty Betty @sweatybetty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S6, Ep4 How to Fail: Lisa Taddeo

S6, Ep4 How to Fail: Lisa Taddeo

October 16, 2019

Lisa Taddeo is a phenomenon. Although she is too humble to recognise that description of herself. But this is a journalist and author who spent eight years - EIGHT YEARS - of her life travelling the United States and embedding herself in the lives of three 'ordinary' women in order to report back on that hitherto unexplored topic: female desire as it really is. Not as pornographic exploitation or rom-com fantasy viewed through the male gaze, but as women truly experience love and loss and expectation and sex and marriage and crushes and abuse and threesomes and motherhood and daughterhood and sisterhood and all the liminal spaces in between.

The resulting work of narrative non-fiction, Three Women, caused a sensation on its publication earlier this year. It shot simultaneously to the top of the bestseller lists in both the UK and America. Elizabeth Gilbert called it 'the best book of the year'. Dave Eggers said it was 'scorchingly original'. When I read it, I was blown away: I had never experienced a book quite like it. It turned out I had been desperately thirsty for these female stories to be shared, and Three Women was like a long, cool glass of water.

I'm so thrilled to welcome Lisa as a guest on How To Fail. Meeting her was like falling in platonic love. She speaks so openly about crippling anxiety, losing both her parents in her 20s, quitting university for a boy and professional rejection, that I'm pretty sure you won't be able to help falling in love with her too.

Along the way, we also discuss female desire and repression, the practicalities of writing Three Women, and her relationship with the women she wrote about.

Thank you Lisa, for your work, your empathy and your humanity.

 

S6, Ep3 How to Fail: Cush Jumbo

S6, Ep3 How to Fail: Cush Jumbo

October 9, 2019

If you're a fan of The Good Wife or The Good Fight (and if not, why not?) you will know Cush Jumbo as Lucca Quinn, the whip-smart, ambitious lawyer who speaks with a flawless American accent. But Cush was actually born in South London, the daughter of a British mother and a Nigerian father and the second of six children. She took dance classes from the age of three, and went on to study at the Central School of Speech and Drama. An award-winning stage actress who wrote and starred in her own highly-acclaimed one-woman show, Josephine and I, she is returning to the theatre next year to play Hamlet at the Young Vic.

Way back in the mists of time (well, ok, 2012), I interviewed Cush for the Observer. I was struck then by how impressive she was, as well as being nice and funny. We stayed in touch over the years as I proudly watched her ascent from afar, and now I'm delighted to get the chance to interview her again because she is unafraid to talk honestly and beautifully about her most vulnerable moments.

She joins me to talk about her fears of letting her family down, the self-perceived failure to 'have it all' as a working mother, plus the rejection and sense of terrible failure she felt as an actress starting out and the spiral of depression that ensued, during which she thought 'obsessively' about suicide, before seeking medical help (and getting a dog). Thank you Cush, for being fearless in your honesty and generous with your talent. Also thank you for bringing me delicious cakes from Gail's when we recorded. You really are a gem.

ALSO, TODAY SHE COLLECTS HER O.B.E. It's almost as if I'd planned the timing (I hadn't).

I hope you enjoy listening, and if you do, I'd love it if you felt moved to rate, review and subscribe.

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The How To Fail Live tour has now started! I will be at various venues around the UK and Ireland over the next two months, sharing my failure manifesto with the help of some very special guests. Limited tickets left! These events are not recorded as podcasts so the only way to be there is to book tickets via www.faneproductions.com/howtofail

The Sunday Times Top 5 bestselling book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day, is out now and is available here.

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This season of How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp and sponsored by Sweaty Betty. Sweaty Betty are offering listeners 20% off full-price items with the code HOWTOFAIL

To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Cush Jumbo @cushjumbo 

Sweaty Betty @sweatybetty

 

 

 

S6, Ep2 How to Fail: Alain De Botton

S6, Ep2 How to Fail: Alain De Botton

October 2, 2019

This week on How To Fail, we are doing something slightly different. I know, I know, we don't like change, but sometimes IT'S GOOD FOR US. It's especially good for us when it comes in the form of Alain de Botton, one of the most intelligent, eloquent and thoughtful people on the planet.

And because it's Alain de Botton, modern philosopher, founder of The School of Life and bestselling authors of life-changing books such as Essays In Love, I decided to allow him a little leeway. Instead of choosing personal failures, Alain wanted to talk about three philosophical 'failure concepts' and I'm so glad he did, because it led to one of the most fascinating and enlightening discussions I've ever had on the topic.

We discuss the idea that we can be good people and yet fail, and the concept (which I'm forever banging on about) that failure is the norm, and that we should find contentment in the average rather than constantly expecting the exceptional. He also has brilliant insights into why romantic break-ups are not, in and of themselves, tragic, because each relationship teaches you something you need to know, and when the time is right, it is ok to move on. Along the way, I also ask him about X Factor, so fear not, I'm there to pepper his brilliance with my usual lowbrow content, as per.

It was such a delight to meet Alain. An hour in his company left my brain fizzing with new (and reassuring) ideas, and I hope it has the same effect on you.

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The new book from The School of Life, co-authored and introduced by Alain de Botton, is out now and available to buy here

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I am thrilled to be taking How To Fail on tour around the UK in October, sharing my failure manifesto with the help of some very special guests. These events are not recorded as podcasts so the only way to be there is to book tickets via www.faneproductions.com/howtofail

The Sunday Times Top 5 bestselling book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day, is out now and is available here.

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This season of How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp and sponsored by Sweaty Betty. Sweaty Betty are offering listeners 20% off full-price items with the code HOWTOFAIL

To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Alain de Botton @alaindebotton

 

Sweaty Betty @sweatybetty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S6, Ep1 How to Fail: Camilla Thurlow

S6, Ep1 How to Fail: Camilla Thurlow

September 25, 2019

We're back! Did you miss us? Go on...say you did. I'm really very, very needy.

It's such a treat for me to be opening season six with a truly fantastic guest: Camilla Thurlow. Camilla was always one of the most genuine and impressive contestants on ITV2's hit reality show, Love Island. A former bomb disposal expert who worked in life and death situations in Cambodia and Afghanistan, she came second in the 2017 series. Instead of launching a clothing line or advertising detox tummy teas, Camilla went on to use her new-found public platform to talk about issues close to her heart: namely, the immigration crisis and mental health. Her first trip after Love Island was to a refugee camp with the contestant she coupled up with, Jamie Jewitt (oh, and by the way, they are still together).

Set aside any preconceptions you might have about reality TV and listen to the wisdom this extraordinary woman imparts about love, loss and human connection. We talk about her periods of extreme anxiety and panic as she was forced to confront who she really was rather than the Camilla she was trying to be. We talk about the challenges of public expectation and the fear of not living up to other people's idea of her. We talk about social media, turning 30 and her ingrained fear of making a fool of herself. We also talk about a near-fatal car accident and the unexpected lessons it taught her.

I am so grateful to Camilla for opening up to me and for showing that strength comes through an acknowledgement of - and respect for - vulnerability. I know that you will find so much to relate to in what she says.

Thank you for listening. It's great to be back.

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I am thrilled to be taking How To Fail on tour around the UK in October, sharing my failure manifesto with the help of some very special guests. These events are not recorded as podcasts so the only way to be there is to book tickets via www.faneproductions.com/howtofail

The Sunday Times Top 5 bestselling book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day, is out now and is available here.

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This season of How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp and sponsored by Sweaty Betty. Sweaty Betty are offering listeners 20% off full-price items with the code HOWTOFAIL

To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Camilla Thurlow @camillathurlow

 

Sweaty Betty @sweatybetty

 

 

 

S5 BONUS EPISODE! How to Fail: Philippa Perry and Sadie Jones

S5 BONUS EPISODE! How to Fail: Philippa Perry and Sadie Jones

August 21, 2019

A live recording of a one-off How To Fail With Elizabeth Day special with authors Philippa Perry (The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read) and Sadie Jones (The Snakes) about How To Fail...At Families.

Recorded in front of a live audience at Foyle's bookshop on Charing Cross Road in London.

This episode is sponsored by Penguin Life, which publishes books by experts who share a passion for living well.

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Philippa Perry's The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read is available to order here.

Sadie Jones's The Snakes is available to order here.

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I am thrilled to be taking How To Fail on tour around the UK in October, sharing my failure manifesto with the help of some very special guests. These events are not recorded as podcasts so the only way to be there is to book tickets via www.faneproductions.com/howtofail

The Sunday Times Top 5 bestselling book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day, is out now and is available here.

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This bonus episode of How To Fail With Elizabeth Day was hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and Naomi Mantin and sponsored by Penguin Life. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Sadie Jones @thatsadiejones

Philippa Perry @philippa_perry

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

Naomi Mantin @naomimantin

 

S5, Ep8 How to Fail: Jess Phillips

S5, Ep8 How to Fail: Jess Phillips

August 14, 2019

Well, old friend, here we are again. The end of another season. Where does the time go?

I saved this guest for the finale because she's bloody spectacular. Jess Phillips is the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, a campaigner on women's rights, an outspoken critic of Brexit, anti-semitism and the politics of the hard-left, and the author of an acclaimed book, Everywoman: One Woman's Truth About Speaking The Truth.

She joins me to talk about coping with failure in politics, living with daily death threats and how she stays sane by prioritising her female friends. She talks about the failure in contraception (!) that resulted in her eldest son, her failure to get on the Home Office Fast Track scheme and, in an extremely moving admission, her self-perceived failure to fix her brother's drug addiction.

This makes it sound pretty heavy, but Jess is so naturally funny and such a self-deprecating force of nature, that I promise you this interview will leave you feeling energised and quite possibly punching the air.

That's it for season five (apart from one bonus live record COMING SOON. Make sure you're subscribed so you don't miss out). I'll be back in the autumn with eight brilliant new guests.

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A THANK YOU FROM ME:

Thank you so much for subscribing and rating and reviewing and for all your lovely messages over this season and all the others. It really does mean the world to me. Truly. And if you don't like me / this podcast / actually took time out of your day to leave a one-star review / worry that my guests all went to Oxbridge (they didn't) / are too middle-class (they aren't) / think I'm too gushing (well...ok, maybe you have a point there, but I genuinely mean it when I say someone's amazing...) then please know that however angry or sad or lonely or un-heard you feel, I send you nothing but love in return. Bet that winds you up, doesn't it?

To the rest of you: I feel so blessed for your companionship on this crazy, beautiful journey. You have helped me make sense of things. You have met me in a place of vulnerability and made me feel so much stronger. You have shown me that love, compassion and kindness is strength. You have taught me what I always suspected: that failure does not have to be an end point, but can instead be a stepping stone on a journey towards greater understanding. Thank you.

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Jess Phillips's new book, Truth to Power, is out in October and available to pre-order here.

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I am thrilled to be taking How To Fail on tour around the UK in October, sharing my failure manifesto with the help of some very special guests. These events are not recorded as podcasts so the only way to be there is to book tickets via www.faneproductions.com/howtofail

The Sunday Times Top 5 bestselling book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day, is out now and is available here.

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How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and Naomi Mantin and sponsored by Teatulia. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Jess Phillips @jessphillips

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

Naomi Mantin @naomimantin

Teatulia @TeatuliaUK

 

 

 

 

 

S5, Ep7 How to Fail: Meera Syal

S5, Ep7 How to Fail: Meera Syal

August 7, 2019

This week, I welcome the multi-talented Meera Syal to the podcast: actor, comedian, playwright, novelist, producer and, most notably, sister-of-my-friend-Rajeev. Meera first came to prominence when she co-wrote and starred in the award-winning BBC comedy series Goodness Gracious Me and was Bafta-nominated for her later role in The Kumars at Number 42. She, along with her husband Sanjeev Bhaskar, almost single-handedly reinvented British-Asian comedy, taking it from the stereotypical and lazy racist tropes of old and bringing it brilliantly into the mainstream (I mean, who can forget the hilarious 'Going for an English' sketch? If you haven't seen it, YouTube it now).

Meera joins me to talk about failing at maths (and having a bigoted teacher), failing to live up to her parents' expectations of her, failing at auditions (and hating them), failing to raise her second child how she wanted and instead getting obsessed with a rigid regime rather than following her own maternal instincts. Along the way, we discuss ageing, race, school, womanhood, ice-cream vans and embarrassing smear tests. Yes, really.

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I am thrilled to be taking How To Fail on tour around the UK in October, sharing my failure manifesto with the help of some very special guests. These events are not recorded as podcasts so the only way to be there is to book tickets via www.faneproductions.com/howtofail

The Sunday Times Top 5 bestselling book of the podcast, How To Fail: Everything I've Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day, is out now and is available here.

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How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Chris Sharp and Naomi Mantin and sponsored by Teatulia. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

Social Media:

Elizabeth Day @elizabday

Meera Syal @meerasyal

Chris Sharp @chrissharpaudio

Naomi Mantin @naomimantin

Teatulia @TeatuliaUK