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The Shift is a podcast that aims to tell the truth about being a woman post-40, created and hosted by journalist and author, Sam Baker. In this frank, funny, painfully honest new podcast series, Sam talks to a variety of women about the good, the bad and the ugly side of being a supposedly grown up woman in a world that would quite like to ignore us. Each week, guests including Marian Keyes, Sara Collins, Lindsey Hilsum, Philippa Perry, Tracey Thorn, Isabel Allende, Anita Rani and many more ...
 
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My guest this week was known for her willingness for say it like it is even before she made a TV show about the menopause. No, not THAT one. The one BEFORE. Broadcaster Mariella Frostrup was banging the menopause drum back in 2018 when her own ignorance about her symptoms at first shocked her and then prompted her to do something bout it. The resul…
 
If you, like me, have lived most of your life in fear of foundation, this week’s guest is your saviour. Because this woman saved us no-make-up girls’ lives. Back in 1991, Bobbi Brown was a makeup artist frustrated by the fact that most makeup looked like a mask so she produced a range of 10 lipsticks that actually matched people’s lips. Shocker! Th…
 
My guest this week is a novelist, film-maker - and Zen Buddhist priest. Ruth Ozeki was born in Conneticut in the 1950s to a Japanese mother and, as she puts it, caucasian anthropologist father. Despite always wanting to write, she didn’t publish her first novel until she was 40, because, in part, she “didn’t feel entitled to”. She needn’t have worr…
 
How do two sensible middle aged broadcasters become the voices of a generation of pissed off older women? My guests today can tell you aaallll about that. Fi Glover and Jane Garvey were off-air colleagues who turned their on-air sensible reputations (as hosts of The Listening Project and Woman’s Hour respectively) on their heads when they launched …
 
Today’s guest is former fashion journalist turned interiors blogger, Paula Sutton. For twenty years Paula lived a typical busy busy busy 9-to-9 London life. But the birth of her third child made her question everything. Ditching her glamorous job, she and her husband and three kids decamped to rural Norfolk. There, jobless, cash-less and identity-l…
 
Dubbed the Queen of Crime, Val McDermid has written 35 books (she thinks, but she’s stopped counting), sold over 17million copies and been translated into 40 languages. At the vanguard of female crimewriters, she’s created countless female sleuths but is probably best known for one of her male ones - Dr Tony Hill of the TV series Wire In The Blood.…
 
My guest this week has always been a self-starter. From flogging Blue Peter badges in the playground to earn a few extra quid to joining theaudience while she was still at school (famously telling her mum, ‘Sod school I’m going on a tour with NME’), Sophie Ellis Bextor has been doing it her own way for a very long time. Famous almost before she was…
 
The Shift has so many new listeners that it seemed like time to say hello, welcome and thank you for your support. It's been SO gratifying to see how many of you agreed with my hunch that there was a big appetite to hear older women talking about their lives, loves, losses and learnings. This is a replay of the first episode I ever recorded. We wer…
 
This is the second episode I ever recorded and the most popular episode of The Shift bar none. Marian Keyes has a legion of fans and for good reason. I thought I'd replay it in preparation for the upcoming 25th anniversary of her greatest hit, Rachel's Holiday, and its long-awaited sequel, Again, Rachel, coming February 2022. * Ask any group of wom…
 
This is a replay of an episode from earlier this year. If I had to choose one episode as my favourite - tough call, like choosing a favourite child! - this would probably be it. If you've heard it before, give it another listen - Isabel Allende is iconic, truly. If you haven't, you are about to meet your old bird role model.... The main word I can …
 
This is a replay of an episode first broadcast last autumn. I'm replaying it now to coincide with the publication of Denise's new novella, Rizzio, a gripping contemporary reimagining of the 1566 murder of Mary Queen of Scots' right hand man. (And also because Denise is a total legend (not to mention extremely straight-talking) and I'm pretty sure t…
 
My guest today has been MP for Birmingham Yardley since 2015. Jess Phillips still lives in Birmingham, with her husband and two sons, not far from where she grew up with her activist parents, going to women’s liberation playgroup and hanging out with her nan who listened to Prime Ministers Questions while ironing. Before becoming an MP, Jess worked…
 
Ever wanted to chuck it all in? I mean ALL of it? My guest today did just that - baby, bathwater AND bath. For 30 years, journalist Lucy Kellaway was a columnist on the Financial Times. Then, in the space of just a couple of years she ditched not only that but her home of 15 years, her husband of 25 years - and even her hair! (Not in that order.) I…
 
My guest today is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful people I’ve ever interviewed - and I’ve interviewed A LOT. Writer and academic, Elif Shafak has written 19 books and 12 novels and been shortlisted for countless literary prizes, including the Booker Prize. Known for her bravery and outspokenness in the face of oppressive regimes, she has al…
 
My guest today is a woman who I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of, but you may not think you have. Her name is Paula Hawkins, but you probably know her as the author of the global bestseller The Girl On The Train. A book she wrote in her early 40s after - I’m sure she won’t mind me saying - an awful lot of also-rans. The girl on the train went on to se…
 
How does it feel to have your life turned upside down in your mid 40s? That’s what happened to Laura Friedman Williams when, after 27 years with her husband, she discovered he was having an affair. It was something Laura had always thought they’d somehow get past but, confronted with the reality that he was in love with someone else, she knew this …
 
My guest this week has spent a fair part of this year at the eye of a storm. Torrey Peters’ novel Detransition, Baby - a gloriously gossipy comedy of manners - was rapturously received when it was published in January, chosen for bookclubs by everyone from Oprah to Roxane Gay, and TV rights were optioned by the team behind Grey’s Anatomy. It was la…
 
My guest this week has come a hell of a long way - from the Derbyshire village where she grew up, to London and the editor's seat of Empire magazine, by way of New York where she was one of Folio magazine’s top women in American media. Ostensibly Terri White was living the 'single woman in Manhattan' dream. But, uber-competent at work, she was clin…
 
Hello, and welcome to season 5 of The Shift, and I could not be happier to kick off this season with this very special guest. What even is the “right sort of girl?” That’s a question my guest this week has long struggled to answer. Growing up in Yorkshire, TV presenter and self-proclaimed misfit Anita Rani always felt that she was somehow *wrong* -…
 
The best way I can think of to describe this week’s guest is that she’s a women’s health vigilante. (A vagina vigilante if you will!) Dubbed twitter’s resident gynaecologist, and the nemesis of snake oil salesmen everywhere, Dr Jen Gunter is the living embodiment of “information is power”. She has made it her life’s mission to give you the informat…
 
How does it feel to come from a family with a legend? If you’re today’s guest, novelist and playwright Esther Freud (daughter of painter Lucian Freud and great granddaughter of Sigmund Freud) you work with that legacy to produce some of the finest novels of the last thirty years. Her first Hideous Kinky, based on her unusual childhood, was made int…
 
This is a replay of an episode published at the start of the year in which Kate Mosse talked about her experience of caring for both her own elderly parents, and her husband's mother. I'm replaying it now to coincide with the publication of her memoir, An Extra Pair of Hands, in which she writes movingly about that experience and its profound effec…
 
This week’s guest is the behavioural and data scientist, Dr Pragya Agarwal. A passionate campaigner for gender and race equality, Pragya is the author of the much-praised Sway, about unravelling unconscious bias, and the host of of the podcast, Wish We Knew What to Say: talking with children about race. Pragya is also - and I tell you this only bec…
 
My guest this week is a business woman, broadcaster, curator, tastemaker and DJ. She headlines festivals, hosts one of BBC Radio 1’s flagship shows, was Europe’s biggest female DJ and has her own hit podcast Changes with Annie Mac. And now, as if that wasn’t e-bloody-nough (bc let’s not forget the two kids), Annie Macmanus has written her first nov…
 
The phrase force-of-nature was created to describe this week’s guest. Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy has been fighting back and refusing to shut up for the best part of 50 years. She has been assaulted and detained in Tahir Square, banned from an Australian TV network, and has made it her business to be the scourge of the pale male, and…
 
My guest this week is the cartoonist Alison Bechdel. Probably best known for the Bechdel test - a tongue in cheek method she came up with in the 80s for assessing gender bias in movies. She became a household name when Fun Home, her graphic novel/memoir about coming out and her father’s death, became a bestseller and was turned into an award-winnin…
 
Entrepreneur and fashion designer Anya Hindmarch is the queen of practicality. The bags for which her eponymous label is famous have long been adored for their pockets, compartments, zips and the fact they’re not weighed down with hardware - I mean seriously who wants a bag that’s too heavy to carry when it’s EMPTY?! It’s that super-sensible but fu…
 
This week’s guest is a writer, photographer, sheep rearer (pretty sure that’s not the right word for it), crofter and expert at the dark art of being alone. Tamsin Calidas lived a relatively anonymous life on a small Scottish island, until she wrote her memoir, I am an island, about her experience of moving from London to the comparatively remote H…
 
Like many 80s kids, I grew up with today’s guest. Tracey Thorn started early, forming The Marine Girls (once described as looking like they would “break your arm before they’d let you break their hearts”), while still at school, and Everything But The Girl, with her musical and life partner Ben Watt, whilst at university. Since then she’s released …
 
I am thrilled to kick off season four - season bloody four! - of The Shift with today’s guest, Mel Giedroyc (and yes I did practice saying that 935 times). Mel is (she reckons) the more punctual half of beloved comedy duo, Mel and Sue, an actress, writer and, drum roll, NATIONAL TREASURE thanks to the best part of seven years spent eating cake. (Ni…
 
You know when people say you’re “brave” because you’ve got a few grey hairs?! Well, my guest this week is the living proof - as if it were needed - that that is a right old load of BS. Channel 4 International Editor Lindsey Hilsum is an acclaimed foreign correspondent who has reported from all over the world including Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Kosovo and …
 
My guests this week have both lived fascinating lives. Both have experienced ups and downs. Both are now 55 and have found themselves in this place in life that has brought them a surprising new power. Actress, producer, businesswoman and compulsive learner Sadie Frost and award winning actress and singer/songwriter Frances Ruffelle first met at sc…
 
My guest today is the Ghanaian American writer Nana-Ama Danquah. Nana-Ama found herself in the public eye when, in the late 90s, she published her memoir Willow Weep For Me about suffering from clinical depression - one of the first books to openly discuss black women’s mental health experience. Critically acclaimed by the likes of the late, great …
 
The main word I can think of to describe this week’s guest is wise. (Well there are other words - fabulous and no-bull for starters - but wise is the biggie.) Bestselling author Isabel Allende has written 25 books including her debut, the global smash hit The House of the Spirits, published when she was 39, and two memoirs, one about the death of h…
 
This week is a bit of a “how to cope when your life spirals out of control and goes tits up!” Special! And my guest, journalist Rosie Green, is an unwilling expert on midlife chaos. She was 44 (there’s that age again…) when her contented, settled, literally roses-round-the-door family life was pulled out from under her when her husband and partner …
 
Like many women, my guest this week has lived a lot of lives in one. Married and divorced in her 20s, Sarah Pinborough left a career in teaching, became a horror writer and taught herself to script write, but it was when she turned her hand to psychological thrillers, when she was 44 (remember that age, it’s definitely significant!), that things we…
 
Where to start with the last decade of this week's guest's life? After struggling to get pregnant, Alexandra Heminsley finally conceived at 40 after unsuccessful rounds of IVF. You might hope that was the end of the stress. But no. First came the DNA test that questioned whether the embryo was really hers and then, as she tried to adapt to life as …
 
You’d be hard pushed to think of anyone who has done more for women writers than this week’s guest. Twenty five years ago, Kate Mosse was working in publishing when she looked around and realised that everyone on all the awards shortlists looked familiar - pale, male and stale. The result - the Women’s Prize for Fiction - has just celebrated its 25…
 
This week's guest is acclaimed poet, author and activist, Salena Godden. Now in her late 40s, Salena has been writing and performing since 1994 when she moved to London seeking the bright lights and never looked back. In her evocative debut novel, Mrs Death Misses Death, the self-confessed “dreamer” brings death to life as a middle-aged black woman…
 
How's 2021 for you so far?! I know, right? Well, who better to grab us by the scruff of the neck at just the point our meagre enthusiasm is starting to wear off than Philippa Perry? Philippa has been a psychotherapist for 20 years. She’s also an agony aunt, presenter and author of the bestseller, The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and your ch…
 
How can it possibly be season three already?! Time flies when you're locked indoors binge-watching repeats! After full and frank conversations about life after 40 (and I DO mean full and frank!) in the first two seasons with the likes of Marian Keyes, Emma Freud, Jojo Moyes, Jo Whiley, Sara Collins, Bryony Gordon, Jodi Picoult, Gabby Logan and many…
 
My guest this week has hosted everything from Final Score to the Six Nations to the Olympics. Formerly an international gymnast, Gabby Logan moved into broadcasting in her early 20s and neither she – nor the male-dominated world of sports broadcasting – have looked back. Now 47, she’s launched The Mid-Point, a podcast about midlife career change an…
 
Feel like your wardrobe has turned against you? Your body’s gone awol and you've mislaid your style mojo? This week’s guest is the answer to your sartorial prayers. Fashion journalist and lifestyle blogger Erica Davies’s career spans two decades: at 24 she was the youngest ever national newspaper fashion editor, on The Sun. At 44 she is a legit Ins…
 
This week’s guest is the award-winning novelist, Maggie O’Farrell. The author of eight novels, most recently the stunning Women’s Prize winner, Hamnet, and one of my favourite memoirs of all time, I Am, I Am, I am. And now she’s written a children’s book, the absolutely gorgeous Where Snow Angels Go, which is a banker for a Christmas Day teatime an…
 
This week’s episode comes to you from the Glasgow kitchen of straight talking crime writer Denise Mina. (Lockdown let up long enough for me to leave the house - yay!) She’s written 15 novels, including the award-winning The Long Drop, and her last, Conviction, was scooped up by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine Bookclub. But her latest, The Less D…
 
This week’s guest has been in the tabloids since her early teens. In fact, like me, you’re probably guilty of thinking you know all about Meg Mathews just because you read about her marriage to Noel Gallagher, her partying with the “primrose hill set” and her journey off the rails and back on again. But she’s set out to prove us all wrong with her …
 
This week I’m chatting to a woman who is the very definition of a Bestseller. Jodi Picoult has written 24 global smash hits (including A Spark of Light and Small Great Things) all with her inimitable mix of hard hitting issues and intimate personal stories, and her last eight novels have debuted at No 1 in the New York Times bestseller list. Her ne…
 
This week’s guest will be no stranger to you but she’s a little bit of a different one for The Shift because, at 40, Bryony Gordon is a mere whipper snapper, but she’s crammed a whole lot of living into those years. Journalism, Mental health campaigning, marathon running, body positivity activism, bestselling books and, as we’ll be hearing, alcohol…
 
My brilliant guest for the first episode of this season is a very special one. You may not have heard of Karen Arthur, but you sure as hell will have done by the time she’s finished with you. Because Karen - the founder of Menopause Whilst Black - is a woman on a mission. In the few months since she launched Menopause Whilst Black on Instagram she …
 
Where to start with this week’s guest? Now 58, Emma Freud is a broadcaster, presenter, columnist and fund-raiser, for want of a better way of putting the incredible work she and her partner Richard Curtis do with Comic Relief. And she’s got four kids. And a bazillion pets (listen on for kittens!). And she lives in my Pinterest board. And she’s not …
 
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