5 Minute Biographies is a podcast which does exactly as it suggests in the title – each week, host Wayne Armstrong presents short 5 to 10-minute biographies exploring interesting people.
Each episode highlights well-known figures throughout history and offers a snapshot view of their lives. On the podcast, they have covered historical deviants like the infamous gangster Al Capone and self-declared emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte. Music icons include Queen front-man Freddie Mercury and talented vocalist Amy Winehouse. Actors from the dawn of the silver screen and beyond, like Mary Pickford and Humphrey Bogart. Authors such as Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens and J.R.R Tolkien. Political leaders, real-life adventurers, artists, entrepreneurs – 5 Minute Biographies cover them all!
If you love to learn more about the well-known names and faces that permeate history, then I highly recommend this podcast. The episodes are thoroughly researched and expertly weaved together to create a detailed picture of those featured. The host’s slow and calming voice is perfect for the brief, documentary-style podcast which makes the series so easy to listen to. Keeping the episodes short and concise, Armstrong’s delivery makes the stories feel less like a history lesson and more like a “best bits” of the lives of these famous figures.
As they say, they aim to bring listeners interesting information about interesting people in the form of short biographies, and that’s exactly what they do! They trace the events, successes and failures, highs and lows of their lives, providing quick nuggets of information to help you learn about important figures throughout time.
For example, did you know that Thomas Edison was considered a misfit in school, and was almost entirely deaf? Or that Freddie Mercury originally studied art and design in college?
As a massive fan of history, I particular enjoy the episodes discussing historical leaders as Armstrong presents a detailed timeline of their exploits, while managing to condense intricate and complex histories into an easily digestible runtime. You never feel like you are missing out on a single part of the story. For example, in an episode discussing King Henry VII, he discusses Henry’s childhood, through to the tumultuous events leading to his eventual grasp of the crown and his attempts at regaining peace afterwards, touching on the War of the Roses to the foundation of the Tudor dynasty.
In June 2020, they took a break from their regularly programmed schedule to interview Dr Moira Dolan to discuss her book Boneheads & Brainiacs, a book which takes a look at the backstory and culture of winners of the Nobel prize for medicine, from the scoundrels to the heroes. It’s a much longer episode, but is definitely worth a listen to get a deeper insight into a whole other range of intriguing characters.
There are currently fourteen seasons available, with the latest season concluding just before Christmas, so there is a long list of interesting histories to sink your teeth into. You can also read along with the podcast using the scripts posted on their website.
Podarooney explores the lives and works of various Irish creatives. Irish comedian and actor Joe Rooney chats to friends and acquaintances he has met and worked with over twenty years in the entertainment industry.
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