Interviews

Unfiltered with James O'Brien

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Welcome to Unfiltered: The inimitable James O’Brien’s new interview show. Subscribe now for a revealing and candid one hour conversation with a mystery special guest every week, featuring the best from the worlds of sport, politics and entertainment....Show More
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How Bill Browder became Vladimir Putin's No. 1 enemy

1:05:38 | Nov 14th, 2017

Bill Browder is Vladimir Putin’s No. 1 enemy. Armed with a true life story cut straight from a bestselling thriller, listen as Bill grippingly recounts his tale from Red Notice in an extraordinary interview, which sees him placed on Interpol’s most-w...Show More
41 - Adam Deacon: trauma, Kidulthood, spiralling down and climbing back

53:47 | Jul 30th, 2018

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. ...Show More
Lord Alf Dubs: escaping the Nazis and fighting for refugees

1:04:44 | Mar 19th, 2018

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 t...Show More
John Amaechi talks race, breaking the NBA, and homosexuality in sport

1:02:19 | Feb 12th, 2018

Few British psychologists can also boast a successful career in the NBA, but John Amaechi can. In this enthralling and thoughtful interview with James O’Brien, John recounts his struggles growing up black, nerdy and exceptionally tall in 1980s Stockp...Show More
James O'Brien: Conscience, empathy, and learning how to be right (with Fi Glover)

1:05:07 | Sep 24th, 2018

After 50 fantastic episodes, James O’Brien’s time at the helm of Unfiltered is sadly coming to an end. In this special episode with BBC Radio 4 presenter Fi Glover, James signs off from the interviewees chair with a touching conversation about his l...Show More
Gina Miller: Brexit, taking on the government, and ending the chaos

58:48 | Sep 17th, 2018

You probably know Gina Miller as the woman who took the government to court for attempting to implement Brexit without a vote in Parliament, but there’s much more to Gina Miller than the headlines. In this fascinating interview with James O’Brien, G...Show More
Alan Rusbridger: phone hacking, WikiLeaks and digital revolutions

55:33 | Sep 10th, 2018

Former editor-in-chief of The Guardian Alan Rusbridger joins James O’Brien for a fascinating interview about the extraordinary stories and technological revolutions that defined his tenure, from the News of the World phone hacking scandal to the Wiki...Show More
Spike Lee (with David Lammy): American terrorism, the KKK, and becoming a master filmmaker

40:03 | Sep 3rd, 2018

Legendary film director Spike Lee joins guest host David Lammy for a fascinating interview about his extraordinary career, his latest effort BlacKkKlansman, reflecting on the presidency of Barack Obama, and a little North London rivalry between Spike...Show More
Idris Elba (with David Lammy): being the best and never fearing failure

45:43 | Aug 27th, 2018

David Lammy steps into the interviewer’s chair while James is on holiday for a very special interview with Idris Elba. The pair chart Idris’ journey to stardom, from his childhood spent mostly alone, getting the buzz for acting, moving to America a...Show More
Kate Tempest: transcending life and exploring the human soul

54:00 | Aug 20th, 2018

Poet and two-time Mercury Prize-nominated rapper Kate Tempest joins James O’Brien for a deep and fascinating interview about art, poetry, transcendence, the human condition, and the dark and beautiful worlds that art and performance can take you to, ...Show More
Shaun Ryder: pills, thrills and Happy Mondays

56:32 | Aug 13th, 2018

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 hi...Show More
Steve Aoki: Building movements, creating community and throwing cakes

59:27 | Aug 6th, 2018

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 chi...Show More
Mark Steel: stand-up, socialism and searching for answers

58:19 | Jul 23rd, 2018

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 vary...Show More
Unfiltered: The best bits you might have missed

50:27 | Jul 16th, 2018

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 inter...Show More
Danny Wallace: the strange and wonderful adventures of an inquisitive man

59:48 | Jul 9th, 2018

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...Show More
Vicky Beeching: the secret life of the poster girl for the Evangelical church

57:25 | Jul 2nd, 2018

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 ...Show More
Caitlin Moran: bad sex, good advice and how to be famous

59:19 | Jun 25th, 2018

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 whi...Show More
Howard Jacobson on Jewish comedy, identity, and the dismal state of the world

57:16 | Jun 18th, 2018

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 ant...Show More
Dave Haslam on Madchester, ecstasy, the Haçienda and the art of DJing

58:24 | Jun 11th, 2018

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 Ja...Show More
Simon Thomas: grief, faith, and perseverance in the face of devastating loss

58:17 | Jun 4th, 2018

You may know Simon Thomas from his work on Sky Sports and Blue Peter, but the devastating loss of Simon’s wife Gemma brought him to a prominence that no one could ever wish for. In this emotional and inspiring interview with James O’Brien, Simon sh...Show More
Ronan Farrow on bringing down Harvey Weinstein, Trump’s America, and the power of the pen

56:43 | May 28th, 2018

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 administr...Show More
Akala: race and class in the ruins of empire

57:25 | May 20th, 2018

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 myt...Show More
Michelle Lyons: 278 executions, and life watching death row prisoners’ final minutes

57:08 | May 14th, 2018

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...Show More
Jamie Oliver: The Naked Chef’s crusade to change the world

58:02 | May 6th, 2018

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, n...Show More
Plan B on rap, soul and our degraded moral system

57:08 | Apr 30th, 2018

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...Show More
Shappi Khorsandi: Revolution, assassination plots, and stand-up comedy

58:04 | Apr 24th, 2018

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 interv...Show More
Nigel Owens: struggles with sexuality and the road to self-acceptance

59:03 | Apr 16th, 2018

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 st...Show More
Russell Kane: robbed by birth, funny by nature

58:15 | Apr 9th, 2018

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...Show More
Irvine Welsh: Trainspotting, heroin and pilates

59:09 | Apr 1st, 2018

Most authors never have a bestseller. Even fewer come to define an entire decade. Trainspotting, both the book and the film that followed it, was a cultural phenomenon in the 1990s, catapulting writer Irvine Welsh into literary infamy. In this unfli...Show More
Mark Hamill on Star Wars, life as Luke Skywalker, and Carrie Fisher

48:12 | Mar 26th, 2018

He’s best known as Luke Skywalker, but who was Mark Hamill before he picked up the lightsaber? The Star Wars legend joins James O’Brien for a very special interview, exploring his early love for show business, being cast by George Lucas in the first ...Show More
Richard Herring on the anarchy of comedy, Stewart Lee, and testing the limits

1:06:49 | Mar 12th, 2018

In a laugh-filled look behind the curtain of comedy, stand-up legend Richard Herring takes James O’Brien through his partnership with Stewart Lee, climbing the greasy pole of comedy, the various disputes and fallings out that come with collaboration,...Show More
David Lammy MP: the never-ending fight for justice and equality

1:04:45 | Mar 5th, 2018

The first sitting MP to appear on Unfiltered, David Lammy has represented the people of Tottenham for the best part of two decades. In that time, he has been privy to some of the most extraordinary moments and developments in British politics. In th...Show More
Scroobius Pip: rap, poetry, podcasts, and the stutter that started it all

1:08:50 | Feb 27th, 2018

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 join...Show More
Jack Monroe: poverty, politics and life on the margins

1:06:20 | Feb 20th, 2018

In 2012, at the end of their tether, Jack Monroe wrote a blog detailing the depths of the bitter poverty they had fallen into. After going viral, the post catapulted Jack from the brink of despair and into the spotlight. In a raw and exploratory int...Show More
Sir Nick Clegg: live by the sword, die by the sword

1:03:37 | Feb 5th, 2018

Politics is a brutal game, and few politicians know this as well as Nick Clegg. The former Deputy Prime Minister and ex-Liberal Democrats leader gives James O’Brien an in-depth and revealing interview, covering his years in coalition with the Conserv...Show More
Gary Lineker: humanity, free speech, and the dark side of the beautiful game

59:46 | Jan 30th, 2018

If there’s one thing Gary Lineker is not going to do, it’s ‘just stick to football’. The broadcaster joins James O’Brien for a boundless interview, from his time at the top-flight of football to dealing with the corruption rotting its core, to facing...Show More
Nimco Ali: the fight to end female genital mutilation

1:13:44 | Jan 23rd, 2018

Nimco was seven when she was taken to Djibouti to be cut. In an unflinching interview, activist Nimco Ali takes James O’Brien on her incredible personal story, from fleeing her native Somaliland as a child refugee escaping civil war to finding her pl...Show More
Paris Lees’ inspiring journey to become the first trans woman in Vogue

1:04:09 | Jan 16th, 2018

Even as a young child, Paris Lees knew that she didn’t feel right in her body. In a bold and revealing interview, Paris takes James O’Brien on a journey from experimenting with tights and make-up, a reckless adolescence selling sex and spending time ...Show More
Iain Lee talks failure and success, battling depression, and the trials of I’m A Celebrity

1:10:14 | Jan 9th, 2018

When Iain Lee went on I’m a Celebrity, he never expected to come out and be ambushed by 190 selfie-demanding school kids. The broadcaster and presenter joins James O'Brien for a frank and funny interview, discussing the ups and downs of his career, h...Show More
David Baddiel on anguish, laughter, the antics of his parents, & tactics to tackle antisemitism

1:09:13 | Dec 19th, 2017

David Baddiel’s mother had an impressively open 20-year-long affair with a golf memorabilia collector, and his father’s rare form of dementia removed his sexual inhibitions and causes him to swear incessantly. The comedian and writer joins James O’Br...Show More
Jon Ronson: shame, psychopaths and how internet porn changed the world

1:07:16 | Dec 12th, 2017

Writer and now fellow podcaster Jon Ronson joins James for a remarkable interview that dives into some of the dark worlds his work inhabits, from public shaming to psychopaths, right up to internet porn revolution and the twisted journeys it took Jon...Show More
Matt Lucas on Little Britain, TV controversy and his relationship with David Walliams

1:17:10 | Dec 5th, 2017

Comedy legend Matt Lucas joins James O’Brien in a frank and candid interview to talk about the staggering success of Little Britain and the controversies it provokes today, the pain and pitfalls of his coming out, and how David Walliams helped him to...Show More
Eric Cantona: Inside the mind of an enigma

52:50 | Nov 28th, 2017

The one and only Eric Cantona joins James for a very special career-spanning interview in which we explore the life and mind of an icon. No stone is left unturned as King Eric takes us through his early life and career, his thoughts on the state of t...Show More
Krishnan Guru-Murthy talks Brexit, the media and showdowns with Corbyn, Downey Jr & Tarantino

1:07:30 | Nov 21st, 2017

Krishnan Guru-Murthy sits down with James O'Brien for an enlightening interview that discusses his life, the role of the media in modern Britain, how a lack of access to politicians could be sewing the seeds of a democratic crisis, and why he would b...Show More
June Sarpong talks diversity and the British class system

1:04:40 | Nov 7th, 2017

James sits down for an interview with writer and presenter June Sarpong to talk about the real meaning of diversity, beating the British class system, otherness, and how growing up on a predominantly white council estate helped bring her closer to pe...Show More
Lily Allen on tabloids, phone hacking, sexuality and Grenfell Tower

1:00:37 | Oct 31st, 2017

In our most ‘unfiltered’ interview so far, Lily Allen talks to James about the right-wing tabloids, phone hacking, women’s sexuality, Grenfell, and the Harvey Weinstein allegations, as well as her life growing up and making it in the music business. ...Show More
Armando Iannucci's great voyage from Alan Partridge to Veep to The Death of Stalin

59:18 | Oct 24th, 2017

James meets Armando Iannucci, the man behind The Day Today, I’m Alan Partridge, The Thick of It and Veep. In this career-spanning interview, Armando offers his astute observations of American and British politics through the lenses of Trump and Brexi...Show More
Robert Webb dissects masculinity, grief, career and his complicated relationships

1:06:40 | Oct 17th, 2017

Robert Webb talks to James O’Brien about the problems with masculinity, losing loved ones, meeting David Mitchell, finding success with Peep Show and That Mitchell and Webb Look, and how his difficult relationship with his dad affected him as a paren...Show More
Alastair Campbell: Depression, alcoholism and Roy Keane

1:03:12 | Oct 10th, 2017

In a startlingly frank interview, Alastair Campbell talks to James O'Brien about his battle with depression and alcoholism, his breakdown, suicidal thoughts and his admiration for Roy Keane (and how all these things are related). Watch a video of th...Show More
Russell Brand on recovery, addiction, life, love and fatherhood

46:10 | Oct 3rd, 2017

In the first episode of our new longform interview series host James O'Brien is joined by Russell Brand for an under the skin discussion about life, love, addiction, recovery, and how becoming a dad has changed him. Watch a video of this interview o...Show More