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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Interview With The Answer Me This Podcasters Helen & Olly

I'd like to start this post of by thanking Helen and Olly for taking the time to do this interview with me at this busy time of year , Lets get straight to it 
Helen , Olly & Martin the soundman in studio

Ross - How does it feel to know you have such a large audience who are looking for answers from you each and every week? 

Got a Question email the show
AMT - Extraordinary! We never could have imagined that so many people around the world would find us. I mean, it's not often we bump into people from, say, Mongolia or Ukraine, but here they are corresponding with us as if we're firm friends.

Ross - I think that would of come from the whole friendly atmosphere to the podcast , how did the 3 of you meet?

HZ: We all met at university. I first clapped eyes on Olly almost exactly a decade ago and we became friends straight away. I used to go to his room every day to watch Neighbours.
OM: Our relationship is much more businessy now.
HZ: Oddly enough, I met Olly's girlfriend when I was about 6 years old, because she lived next door to my grandparents. I went round to play because they had swings in the garden and a cockerel. Small world, etc etc.
OM: People sometimes assume that Helen and I are a couple. The mere thought is nauseating.
HZ: Nauseating! Martin and I got together almost nine years ago. I wish there was a funny story to tell you about that, but there isn't

Ross - what made you decide to start a podcast?

OM: I was doing a shit TV job that I hated and, around the same time, noticed Ricky Gervais was doing a podcast and earning a load of money from it. So I thought, "We could do that." Although we are yet to earn a load of money from it, so far.
HZ: I was self-employed and in somewhat of a rut at the time. So when Olly suggested it, I thought, "Why not?" And at that point nobody piped up, "Because it will ruin your social life for the next few years," so we did.

Ross -  - how long is an average podcast recording?

Showing off the merch !
AMT : An hour and a half to two hours. That includes breaks for arguments, toilet trips, fresh cups of tea and waiting for noisy sirens outside to die down.

Ross - after a recording has finished, how long does it take to edit (if any) and upload to iTunes?

AMT : LOADS. Altogether, from start to finish, each episode takes about three days. Three days! This was supposed to be a fun hobby, not an unpaid part-time job...

Ross - on average how many questions do you get in a week?

AMT: We'll sift through around 200-300 emails and calls, although some people will stick several dozen questions into one email. If they do so without using punctuation or line-breaks, we usually won't quite get to the end. Even so, it takes a whole day to go through the questions before

Ross - how do you select which questions you'll answer on the show?

playing nice 
AMT : We try to avoid answering questions we've done before, or ones we think will lead to similar answers we've done before. Although now that there's nearly 80 hours of back catalogue, we struggle to remember if we've already covered something in the podcast or whether we just had that conversation in real life! So we'll choose questions that look like they might lead us to a fruitful discussion, and we try to have a variety of subjects in each show.
HZ: There are certain subjects that always seem to do well - for instance the Royal Family, even though I have absolutely no interest in them - and ones that never work out. Us talking about tea is always boring, even though I'm far more interested in tea than the Royal Family.

Ross - what are your own areas of expertise when it comes to question answering, by this I mean which questions would you not need to do too much research into to answer confidently ?

HZ: Olly seems to answer questions about wanking quite proficiently.
OM: Years of research have not gone to waste.
HZ: I like questions about language and where words come from. I applied for a job at the Oxford English Dictionary once, but didn't get it, so this podcast is now the outlet for my lexicological dreams.
Ross - are you planning to do any more live shows in the future ? 

AMT: We've been doing a few live appearances reading from our new book, and it has been really fun to meet listeners in the flesh. They've been lovely people - one lady even baked us a pie!
As far as live podcast episodes, though, we have no plans at the moment. The live 100th episode was a blast, but took weeks of preparation, a cast of several, some ridiculous costumes and hundreds of party hats; a stage show has to be considerably more visually exciting than a normal recording, which is the opposite of visually exciting, involving the three of us sitting around a small folding table and not moving much.
   The nice thing about doing a recording at home in our studio with just the three of us there is that the conversation is a lot more spontaneous - we can go down unexpected avenues, and if they grind to a halt, we can cut it out and nobody need know... Then with a click of a button, we can be speaking to an audience all around the world, in far greater numbers than could fit into a live show.
    Still, never say never! Stadium tour for 2011?
Ross - are there any specific categories of questions you wouldn't answer on the show?

AMT - We wouldn't rule out any particular category - though these days we do try to steer clear of most bowelly questions, believe it or not, because there's only so much bowelly stuff we can talk about in one lifetime. But there are certain questions that we get asked all the time which we won't answer, including:
Why is Martin the Sound Man's voice echoey?
Which armrest in the cinema is mine?
Will you answer this question?
How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Why do I like the smell of my own farts?
Do blind people see in their dreams?
Why are the numbers arranged in a different order on a phone keypad to a calculator?
...and so on. We really don't think anyone's missing much by not knowing our answers to these.

Ross - I couldn't agree more what's next for the answer me this podcast ?

AMT: Well, we've just done the book, so the next step must be a perfume range, or an aerobics video. 

Ross  -  I have just started my own podcast with a friend what's the best advice you could give to people wanting to get into the world of Internet broadcasting?

AMT: Above all else: just go for it - there's nothing stopping you. If you're rubbish (and we definitely started off rubbish!), you can practice and get better without anyone hearing your mistakes; you don't need to publicise your show until you're happy with it and, because podcasting is not live radio, you have the benefit of going back and cutting out the bad stuff. We highly recommend editing: you always have to remember that you're competing with the whole of the rest of the internet for your audience's attention, and people won't give you very long to grab them before they move on to something else. It's better to have a good, lively 5-minute show than a 40-minute one in which you sound miserable and/or bored.
Come up with a show name that is distinctive enough that it doesn't make you impossible to find on Google. However, bear in mind that while disgusting titles are eyecatching, they aren't a sensible option; if you're too ashamed to say the name of your show to your grandmother, ditch it. We discarded many potential titles using this test, and thank god we did, because we don't think we'd have been allowed on national radio or write a book had our show really been called 'The Boobs' or 'All That Jizz'.
And, finally: don't expect to make money out of podcasting. If you can, please tell us how...

Ross - And finally would you care to plug anything? 

AMT: The book of the podcast, Answer Me This!, is out now! So please buy it for people for Christmas. You can read a sample of it at

Once again I'd like to give a huge thank you to Helen & Olly for agreeing to participate in this interview i have personally found it very interesting and can only hope you all do aswell 


  1. Love Helen, Olly & Martin! AMT is one of my favorite podcasts.

    Great interview.

  2. I love how Martin's voice is echoy! It creates the charming impression that he really isn't supposed to be talking on the podcast, but he's just so into whatever he has to say that he's talking anyway.

  3. thank you for taking the time to read my interview it is most appreciated .

  4. I always love to hear from Helen and Olly. NIce interview.

  5. Great Podcast!! :)