Episodes

  • For our season finale, I bring you the glorious Maggie O'Farrell. She is one of my favourite authors, and her books include the highly acclaimed novels After You'd Gone, The Hand That First Held Mine, Instructions for a Heatwave and the bestselling memoir I Am, I Am, I Am. Her most recent work of fiction, Hamnet, imagined the untold story of Shakespeare’s son who died at the age of 11. It won the 2020 Women’s Prize.

    She joins me to talk about resurrecting the untold stories of women, how to be a writer and a parent (Cyril Connolly and his 'pram in the hallway' come in for a bit of a bashing) as well as how she applies concepts of success and failure to her books. She talks about her stammer and her failure to do a PhD and we also discuss how a childhood illness changed her forever, and the various physical repercussions that she still lives with. Plus: why she always finds the back of a tapestry far more interesting than the front...

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    Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell is out now. You can buy all her books here.

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    My new novel, Magpie, is out on 2nd September. I'd love it if you felt like pre-ordering as it really helps authors! You can do that here.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

  • SHE'S BAAAAAACK!

    To mark the third anniversary of How To Fail, I invite back the one and only Dolly Alderton.

    Dolly was one of my first ever guests in the debut season of How To Fail, way back in the mists of time (by which I mean the summer of 2018). Back then, she had just published her memoir Everything I Know About Love a few months earlier. She could have had little idea of the success that was to follow: it became a bestseller, won Autobiography of the Year at the National Book Awards and was selected for Stylist magazine’s best books of the decade by remarkable woman. Dolly is now adapting the book into a BBC drama. Her first novel, Ghosts, was published last year and went straight in at Number 2 in the Sunday Times Bestseller list. It's out in paperback later this month. She was also the co-host of the hugely beloved (and sorely lamented) The High Low podcast.

    In public, it might have seemed as though Dolly was cresting the wave of extraordinary success. But it didn't always feel that way for her personally. She joins me to talk about the disconnect between outward success and inward sensitivity; about social media and her strategy for managing it; about love and loss and everything in between; about understanding that she is an extreme person and that's ok; and about her abject failure to bake birthday cakes. Plus she introduces me to the mind-shatteringly great concept of 'creative monogamy'.

    Dolly is one of my favourite people. She's kind, generous, compassionate, wise, empathetic and hilarious and her return to How To Fail demonstrates all these qualities in abundance. I'm so touched she chose to come back and speak so honestly about her experiences. And I hope you enjoy this extra-special treat of an episode.

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    Dolly will be turning the tables and interviewing me on 2nd September at London's Barbican to mark the publication of my new novel Magpie. If you're desperate for YET MORE OF US, I can promise an evening full of big emotion and belly-laughs. To book tickets (there's also an option to pre-order Magpie here so you'll be the first to get your hands on a copy) go to https://www.fane.co.uk/magpie

    See you there!

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    Ghosts by Dolly Alderton is available to order here.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

    Dolly Alderton @dollyalderton

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  • Martine Wright is a survivor of the 7/7 London terrorist bombings. Sixteen years ago today, she was travelling on a Circle Line tube to Aldgate station on the morning of 7th July 2005, when a suicide bomber sitting three feet away from her set off an explosion that would change her life forever. She lost both of her legs and was in a coma for 10 days after which she underwent a year of intensive rehab and multiple surgeries. Astonishingly, Martine went on to become an international sitting volleyball player and represented the Great Britain’s women’s team at the 2012 Paralympics in London. This is her extraordinary story.

    She joins me to talk about resilience, living loss, experiencing an able-bodied world as a disabled woman, fertility, grief and how she believes catastrophic life-changes can have positive outcomes.

    Martine is one of the most inspiring, hopeful, strong and brilliant people I've ever had the pleasure of interviewing. You do not want to miss this episode.

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    You can read more in Martine's memoir Unbroken

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    My new novel, Magpie, is out on 2nd September. I'd love it if you felt like pre-ordering as it really helps authors! You can do that here.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

    Martine Wright @martine_wright

  • [TW: sexual abuse]

    Today, my guest is the absolute PEACH of a human that is Paris Lees. Paris is an award-winning journalist and a Contributing Editor for British Vogue. She was the first trans woman to present on BBC Radio 1 and Channel 4 and the first to appear on Question Time. Her recently published memoir, What It Feels Like For A Girl, is the uniquely told, semi-fictionalised story of her childhood in Nottinghamshire - which included a spell as a rent boy and an eight-month prison sentence for armed robbery - and the refuge she found in partying, music and, eventually, books.

    Paris joins me to talk about everything from dating and failed relationships to missed deadlines and trans rights. Plus we discuss what it feels like to be a highly sensitive person and how this self-perceived 'failure' has actually turned into one of her biggest strengths.

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    Buy Paris's memoir, What It Feels Like For A Girl, here

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    My new novel, Magpie, is out on 2nd September. I'd love it if you felt like pre-ordering as it really helps authors! You can do that here.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

    Paris Lees @parislees

  • Christie Watson is a nurse turned bestselling author who went back to frontline nursing during the Covid-19 pandemic. But if you were to call her a 'hero' she would refuse the label - and during the course of this interview, she tells me why.

    Watson left school at 16 and volunteered at a charity before training to become a nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital. She spent the next 20 years in hospitals in various disciplines and mainly in paediatric intensive care.

    Alongside that, she built up a successful writing career. Her debut, Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, won the Costa First Novel Award and in 2018, she published a memoir - The Language of Kindness: A Nurse’s Story, which has been translated into 23 languages. Her most recent book, The Courage To Care, is just out in paperback.

    She joins me to talk about failures in nursing, motherhood and, in an especially enlightening conversation, she tells me what happened when she thought she was having a breakdown only to be diagnosed as peri-menopausal. Every woman (and man) should listen. [WARNING: contains mention of clambering into fishfinger freezers].

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    The Courage To Care is out now and available to buy here.

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    My new novel, Magpie, is out on 2nd September. I'd love it if you felt like pre-ordering as it really helps authors! You can do that here.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

    Christie Watson @christiewatsonwriter

  • My guest today is Guvna B, the MOBO-award winning rapper, author and broadcaster. He grew up on a council estate in East London and went on to study at the University of Hertfordshire before forging a full-time career in music. He's since released 10 albums and a memoir, Unspoken, in which he examines toxic masculinity and male identity.

    Guvna B - otherwise known as Isaac Borquaye - joins me to talk about the death of his father, and two of his close friends, and how he had to address his grief in order to carry on living. We discuss the power of vulnerability, fatherhood and finding 'blessings in the struggle'. We talk about faith, identity, race and inter-generational trauma. Plus we discuss failures in exams, driving tests and...erm...mobile phone storage - and why he once blew £4000 on trainers in Westfield.

    Thank you Isaac, for opening up with such generosity in what turned out to be a deeply inspirational conversation.

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    Unspoken by Guvna B is out now and available to buy here.

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    My new novel, Magpie, is out on 2nd September. I'd love it if you felt like pre-ordering as it really helps authors! You can do that here.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you. To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

    Guvna B @GuvnaB

  • I absolutely loved this interview. Whatever your preconceptions about politicians, please set them aside, because you're about to meet Ed Miliband: former leader of the Labour Party, current shadow business secretary, fellow podcaster and author of a new book, Go Big: How To Fix Our World.

    Ed joins me to discuss his failure to win the 2015 general election, suffering from anxiety, failing to get the degree he worked so hard for and a failure to keep his late father, the noted Marxist academic Ralph Miliband, alive. We touch on his family history - both his parents escaped Nazi Germany and many of his relatives were killed in the Holocaust - and we consider whether carrying the hopes and dreams of previous generations makes him feel more duty-bound to succeed. Along the way, we discuss therapy, competitive swimming with Alastair Campbell, political optimism, the power of big ideas, bacon sandwiches, Ed-stones, Milibae, sibling rivalry (yes, I do ask him how things are with his brother David), Boris Johnson, fatherhood and why he'll never win an argument with his wife.

    Ed, thank you for coming on How To Fail with such a generous spirit and for engaging so brilliantly with the premise. You're a mensch.

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    Go Big: How To Fix The World by Ed Miliband is out now and available to order here. You can listen to Reasons To Be Cheerful, his excellent podcast, co-hosted with comedian Geoff Lloyd here.

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    My new novel, Magpie, is out on 2nd September. I'd love it if you felt like pre-ordering as it really helps authors! You can do that here.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

    Ed Miliband @ed_miliband

  • Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill is an Olympic heptathlon gold medallist and a three-time world champion. This is a woman who knows what it takes to succeed at the very highest levels, and who has learned to process failure when she doesn't win. I learned so much from her insight. And she's still only 35!

    We had a truly fascinating conversation about the psychology of competitiveness, the importance of loyalty and roots, how injury taught her the value of rest and how losing the 2011 World Championship to a woman who later turned out to be a drugs cheat fuelled Ennis-Hill's desire to do better.

    We also talk about the specific challenges facing female athletes - from dealing with heavy periods to suppressing menstrual cycles altogether in order to compete - and how the fact that these issues weren't really talked about has now motivated Ennis-Hill to make fitness more accessible to women. Plus she talks about making the difficult decision to return to athletics after the birth of her first child, and why she wishes she'd trusted her own instincts.

    Oh, and obviously I ask her about the London 2012 Olympics. Enjoy!

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    Ennis-Hill's fitness app for women, Jennis, is available here.

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    My new novel, Magpie, is out on 2nd September. I'd love it if you felt like pre-ordering as it really helps authors. You can do that here.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

    Jessica Ennis-Hill @jessicaennishill

  • What better way to kick off a new season of interviews by interviewing one of the very best interviewers? INTIMIDATED, ME? Pahahahahaha.

    We open Season 11 of How To Fail with the peerless, hilarious and warm Graham Norton. Chat show host extraordinaire, bestselling author and beloved radio presenter, he joins me to talk about his failure to become an actor, to crack America and to throw a ball (no, really). We also talk about the art of the interview, his workaholic tendencies and, in an incredibly moving exchange, his near-death experience. Plus: what he learned from being a waiter and what happens when your lifelong dream *doesn't* come true. And I ask him whether he's jealous of James Corden.

    We laughed. We welled up. We chatted. What a gent he is. (Graham, that is, not James. I mean, I'm sure James is too, but...you know what I mean...ok I'm going now...byeeee!)

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    Graham Norton's latest novel, Home Stretch, is out now in paperback and available to order here.

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    My new novel, Magpie, is out on 2nd September. I'd love it if you felt like pre-ordering as it really helps authors. You can do that here.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

    Graham Norton @grahnort

  • TW: discussions about suicide

    For Mental Health Awareness Week, we have a very special bonus episode with Dr Alex George. A former Love Island contestant who after exiting the villa, returned to his job as an A&E doctor. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, he’s been hard at work on the frontline. Behind the scenes, he has had to cope with devastating personal tragedy - his younger brother, Llyr, died by suicide in July 2020. Alex’s openness about his own mental health has been a comfort for many, and in February he was appointed the UK’s Youth Mental Health Ambassador. This week marks the publication of his first book, Live Well Every Day.

    Alex joins me to talk openly about everything he’s been through - from failing to get the grades for med school to getting sunburned on Love Island. We talk about mental health, resilience, fear, depression, introversion - and why he loves bath bombs. We also talk about his brother’s death at the age of 19, the guilt Alex feels at not having known Llyr was struggling and the lifelong pain his absence has left behind. Thank you Alex, for all that you do and for trusting me with your story.

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    This special episode is sponsored by Jo Malone London

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    If you've been affected by any of the issues discussed, Samaritans are here to help. Call them for free on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.uk

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    Alex's book Live Well Every Day is out now and available to order here.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day and produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Dr Alex George @dralexgeorge

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

    Jo Malone London @jomalonelondon

  • I'm almost too excited to write this but..for this extra-special bonus episode, I bring you none other than Adrian Dunbar: the man, the myth, the legend who plays Superintendent Ted Hastings in one of my favourite ever TV shows Line of Duty. If you're watching season six of Jed Mercurio's addictive police procedural, I suspect you will be obsessed with this interview (and yes, of course I ask him about 'H') but if you've never seen Line of Duty, I promise you'll still love it because Adrian is such a wonderful, thoughtful guest.

    We had a really moving conversation about growing up in Northern Ireland at the height of the Troubles, the sudden death of his father from a brain haemorrhage, the impact this had on his family and what it meant to win a place at drama college in the midst of all the uncertainty. Plus what it's like to work with Vicky McClure and Martin Compston on Line of Duty, where he gets his catchphrases from and I ask him to call me 'fella' which was joyous.

    That's it from me for season 10. I'll be back in a few weeks' time for a special Mental Health Week episode. Please do make sure you've subscribed so as not to miss out! And thank you, as ever, for listening.

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    If you'd like to listen to a How To Fail episode with another Line of Duty star, I interviewed the wonderful Vicky McClure aka Kate Fleming way back in Season 4. You can find it here.

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    With many thanks to Scott Bryan for permission to use his fantastic video mash-up of all Ted Hastings's catchphrases. You can follow Scott on Twitter on @scottygb

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    Failosophy: A Handbook for when Things Go Wrong is out now and available to buy here.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

  • It's the season finale, so obviously I insisted our last guest be a Nobel Prize winner and...HERE HE IS! Kazuo Ishiguro, arguably one of our greatest writers of contemporary fiction, and a very lovely man to boot. His most famous book, The Remains of the Day, was written when Ishiguro was only 35. It won the Booker Prize and was adapted into a major film starring Antony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. His other works, including Never Let Me Go and The Buried Giant, collectively earned him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017. Now, at the age of 66, he's back with his latest novel, Klara and the Sun, which is told through the eyes of an AI robot designed to befriend children.

    He joins me to talk about observation and outsiders, imposter syndrome and self-belief, his movie script failures and his failure to grasp the importance of science. Plus, his failure to understand life outside the metropolitan bubble leading up to the events of the Brexit referendum of 2016 and the election of Trump in the same year, something he describes as 'a major failure of vision, curiosity, imagination and empathy.' We also talk about the fact that he wrote the rough draft of The Remains of the Day in...wait for it...FOUR WEEKS.

    I really loved this interview: he's just so clever and interesting. And funny too, which is even better.

    Thank you, Sir Kazuo Ishiguro, for being my first Nobel laureate guest.

    And that's all for season 10! We'll be back in the coming weeks for an extra-special bonus episode which, trust me, you will not want to miss.

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    Klara and the Sun is out now, published by Faber and available to order here

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

  • On an excitement scale of 1-10 I am currently at a 15 because this week's guest...is my best friend.

    As well as being my bff (arguably her most important qualification, I'm sure you'll agree) Emma Reed Turrell is also a brilliant psychotherapist and the author of what is destined to become a must-read book, Please Yourself: How to Stop People-Pleasing and Transform the Way You Live. This is the manual every single self-identifying people pleaser needs to read (and in fact, even those who don't think they are people-pleasers should read it because Emma has helpful advice for you too). The book is packed full of clinical expertise, case studies, practical guidance, intellectual rigour and humour. Plus the odd mention of me. (Well, ok, there's one). It's her first book and it truly blew my mind.

    I've been wanting an excuse to get Emma on the podcast for ages because she is my life guru: a person who has been there for all my ups and downs, who has seen me at my lowest and highest ebbs and who has always had these incredible stores of wisdom that have helped guide me through. I honestly don't know what I'd do without her. And I wanted to be able to share some of that with you!

    She joins me to talk about why we people-please, how to stop it and how we can benefit from not being liked, as well as her own journey to understanding the difference between feeling alongside, rather than along with, her failure to be a good extrovert and her failure give the appropriate number of f***s. And we revisit some of our favourite friendship memories, which might or might not include her dance routine to Salt N' Pepa's Push It.

    I love you, Emma. And I love that I get to share this with all you lovely listeners. It's a special one.

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    Emma's book Please Yourself, is available to pre-order here

    And if you'd like to get in touch with her directly, Emma's website is here

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Emma Reed Turrell @etcounselling

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

  • Today's episode is an important one. Jim Down is an ICU doctor on the frontline of the Covid crisis. He is a consultant in critical care and anaesthesia at University College London Hospital, running the intensive care unit at one of London’s busiest hospitals, where life and death decisions are an everyday occurrence.

    Despite having spent all his adult life working in these conditions, nothing could have prepared Jim Down for Covid-19. As the pandemic descended in spring 2020, Down found himself under almost unimaginable pressure. He and his colleagues dealt with an unprecedented surge in patients, critically ill from a terrible new disease with no known cure. Down is still working at the frontline, still donning PPE every day, still under extreme pressure as the NHS continues to battle through the pandemic and keep us safe.

    He joins me to talk about this, as well as how he manages his own anxiety, why lockdown works (it's worth it, everyone!) and what he's learned from this unprecedented time. He tells me about his awkwardness at being described as a 'hero' and how he deals with the emotional challenge of informing relatives their loved ones have died. Plus, we discuss his failures in adolescence, professional failures and - rather unexpectedly - a failure in stand-up comedy.

    Listen to be both moved and informed. Thank you, Jim.

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    You can watch Jim Down being interviewed on BBC News at the height of the pandemic here.

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    Jim Down's book, Life Support: Diary of an ICU Doctor on the Frontline of the Covid Crisis is available to order here.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

  • This week, Dr Nicole LePera is here to blow your mind. Better known to many as The Holistic Psychologist on Instagram, where she has over 3.4 million followers, Le Pera has gained huge popularity by breaking down complex but helpful psychotherapeutic ideas into accessible, and often life-changing, social media posts.

    A trained clinical psychologist, LePera was frustrated by the separation between body and mind in some traditional therapy. Now she's put her theories into a book, How To Do The Work: a holistic approach to mental health which encourages us to look for connections between our body and mind, and empowers us to believe that sometimes we have the tools for our own healing.

    She joins me to talk about failing at marriage, failing at work and family estrangement. We discuss personal boundaries, trauma bonds, how to deal with criticism (and what her response is to the criticism directed at her methods specifically), co-dependency, how to say no, epigenetics, guilt and much, much more. I have been following LePera's work for some time now and I gleaned so much from this episode, so all I'm saying is...you might want to have a notebook ready.

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    How To Do The Work by Dr Nicole LePera is published next week and is available to pre-order here

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

    Dr Nicole LePera @the.holistic.psychologist

  • Emma Barnett is the presenter of BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, a gifted broadcaster whose forensic interviewing style has reduced politicians to gibbering wrecks and whose compassion and insight can move listeners to tears. She's also the author of Period: It’s About Bloody Time, a book borne out of her own experience of living with painful endometriosis which for years went undiagnosed. At the time of recording, her book was about to come out in paperback, but that's been pushed back to 8th July because, well, pandemic. Link to buy / pre-order is below!

    Emma joins me to talk about the ingrained sexism that means so-called 'women's issues' are concealed by misplaced shame, as well as how her failure to get pregnant for two-and-a-half years led her to a dark place. It is one of the most honest conversations I've ever had about fertility, from someone who has truly walked that path. Plus, she admits to getting bored easily by repetitive conversations and failing to live in the moment enough...and I mean, DON'T WE ALL?

    I first interviewed Emma on a

  • Alexandra Burke shot to fame as the 2008 winner of The X Factor. She became the first British female solo artist to have a million-selling single and went on to have a successful career as both a recording artist and a performer: her lead roles in the stage adaptations of The Bodyguard and Sister Act met with rave reviews.

    But behind the public profile were private battles: her beloved mother was dying, she was subjected to racism in the music industry and her story was frequently misreported in the media. Alexandra joins me to talk about managing this difficult duality and what it taught her about her own strength and resilience. She tells me about never thinking she's good enough, learning how to set boundaries, losing herself in relationships, failing to put herself first and the grief of losing her mum. We also talk about how, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, she chose to speak out about the racism she endured and the impact this had on her.

    I'm not sure I've ever connected with someone as instantly as I did with Alexandra! She's an amazing, vibrant, warm-hearted soul who understands that being open about her failures is actually the key to self-growth. This is one of the most emotional episodes I've ever recorded. I'm so grateful to Alex for the beautiful gift of her vulnerability. Listen to be moved (and perhaps have some tissues nearby).

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    Failosophy: A Handbook for when Things Go Wrong is out now and available to buy here.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

    Alexandra Burke @alexandraburke

  • Today, I invite you to listen to one of my most-requested guests. I've lost count of the number of messages I've received begging me to get Matt Haig on the podcast, and now here he is: the man, the myth, the legend himself!

    Matt is a bestselling author of both fiction and non-fiction and a mental health advocate whose admirers include everyone from Dolly Parton to the Duchess of Sussex. After surviving serious, life-threatening depression in his 20s, Matt used his experiences to form the basis of his 2015 memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive, which was a number one Sunday Times bestseller and stayed in the UK top 10 for 46 weeks. His latest novel, The Midnight Library, tells the story of Nora Seed, who, after attempting to take her own life, finds herself in a library of books which contain alternative versions of Nora’s future. It's a charming meditation on what it means to live a fulfilled life, and on the often blurry line between failure and success.

    Matt joins me to talk about his failure to get the right work / life balance, his failure to check his own privilege and how he wishes he'd been open about his mental health earlier [TW: contains discussion of depression and suicide]. We also talk about having thin skin in an age of social media, how to handle criticism and the dangers of being given 'expert' status when you've never sought it for yourself.

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    Matt's latest novel, The Midnight Library, is out now.

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    Failosophy: A Handbook For When Things Go Wrong contains 7 Failure Principles developed from two-and-bit years worth of accumulated podcast wisdom and is out now.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

    Matt Haig @mattzhaig

  • [TW: contains discussion of eating disorders, including references to calorie-counting and body dysmorphia]

    We're back, baby! So much has changed hasn't it? Last year, I released a new series in the grip of a national lockdown and a global pandemic. This year...well, I'm releasing a new series in the grip of a national lockdown and a global pandemic. I hope Season 10 of How To Fail brings you some much-needed cheer in these strange times.

    And WHAT a guest I have for you to kick off with. Jameela Jamil started out as an English teacher, fell into TV presenting, subsequently became an actress, starring alongside Ted Danson and Kristen Bell in The Good Place and is now well-known for her activism.

    In 2018, Jameela launched I Weigh, which has grown into a radically inclusive global movement against shame and now has its own YouTube channel and podcast. Along the way, she's come in for her fair share of criticism - perhaps unsurprising when you consider her habit of calling out of media hypocrisy on Twitter and Instagram where she has a combined following of 4.4 million.

    Jameela joins me to talk about her failure to be a 'good' female celebrity, her failure to be kind to her body and her failure to get a handle on her finances. If you are a woman, a parent of a daughter, or simply a sentient human being trying to do this thing called life, you will find this episode full of mind-expanding truth bombs. Enjoy!

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    My book Failosophy: A Handbook For When Things Go Wrong contains 7 Failure Principles developed from two-and-bit years worth of accumulated podcast wisdom and is out now.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

    Jameela Jamil @jameelajamilofficial

  • It's the weirdest time of the year, when all the days become a formless sludge and we start to miss getting emails. Navigating the days between Christmas and New Year can be tricky at the best of times, but in 2020 there's an extra layer of WTAF. So I knew I wanted to talk to someone motivating, but not annoying; someone who could nudge us gently into 2021, without making us feel like we weren't already good enough; someone sweet and funny who wasn't smug; someone who, in short, is as sceptical about New Year's resolutions as I am and can instead make us all feel better about who we are right now. That person is Leanne Hainsby.

    Anyone who is lucky enough to own a Peloton will already know who Leanne is. Anyone who doesn't know what a Peloton is, well, it's basically a super-duper fixed exercise bike with a video screen that enables you to join live and on-demand classes given by amazing instructors. If you have never been on a Peloton and would rather chew your own feet than go to a spin class PLEASE STAY WITH ME. You don't need to have any prior knowledge to love Leanne Hainsby, I promise.

    She is the UK's first female Peloton instructor, a woman whose physical strength is matched only by her emotional authenticity. A former professional dancer for everyone from Katy Perry to Steps, she is kind, supportive, enthusiastic, funny, insightful and empathetic. Her trademark phrase, shouted through the screen to the hundreds of thousands of Peloton riders who join her classes, is 'Yes to you.' Leanne is, quite literally, my favourite person I haven't met yet. And so I wanted to introduce you all to her because she's a total gem.

    She joins me to talk about her failure to value herself in past relationships, her failure to be punctual and her failure to see herself beyond her problematic skin (such an interesting conversation). Along the way, we chat about music, cats, mood swings, how to exercise when you really don't feel like it and, yes, there might be a few details about her boyfriend (fellow UK Peloton instructor, Ben Alldis). Please have a listen even if you don't think this episode is for you. I promise you it will put a spring in your step. And if it doesn't, I'll give you your money back...oh now, hold on, this podcast is free so that's not possible. You see? Everyone's a winner!

    YES TO YOU!

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    If you're in the mood for an antidote to all the 'new year, new me' hype, I can entirely objectively (ahem) recommend my new book Failosophy: A Handbook For When Things Go Wrong which explains why I hate New Year's resolutions and which also contains 7 Failure Principles developed from two-and-bit years worth of accumulated podcast wisdom.

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    This episode is not sponsored, but I did want to flag a new book by Samaritans out on 7th January. How To Listen comes with a preface by Michael Palin and includes helpful tips from trained Samaritans on how to talk about how we are feeling, as well as how to listen to one another in a way that can prevent day-to-day concern or worry from escalating into more complex emotions. You can (pre)order your copy here.

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    How To Fail With Elizabeth Day is hosted by Elizabeth Day, produced by Naomi Mantin and Chris Sharp. We love hearing from you! To contact us, email howtofailpod@gmail.com

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    Social Media:

    Elizabeth Day @elizabday

    How To Fail @howtofailpod

    Leanne Hainsby @leannehainsby