Answer Me This!
Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann
January 2007 (2007-01)
Best Internet Programme (Silver, 2010; Gold, 2011) Sony Radio Academy Awards
Answer Me This! is a weekly comedy podcast by Helen Zaltzman and Olly Mann in which they answer questions submitted by the general public. Recorded in Zaltzman's living-room in Crystal Palace, it began in January 2007 and has since become one of the UK's most successful independently-produced podcasts. It has been named Podcast of the Week in the Radio Times, the Times,The Independent and Time Out, as well as receiving plaudits in Q Magazine, the Financial Times, the Sunday Express, the London Metro (British newspaper) and The Observer. In 2009 the show became the first non-musical act ever to play the iTunes Live Festival.
Answer Me This! was nominated for Sony Radio Academy Awards in 2009, 2010, and 2011, in the category "Best Internet Programme"; in 2010, the podcast won the silver award and in 2011, it won the gold award. In 2012 it won a European Podcast Award.
3 Critical success,
6 Radio show,
7 Great British Questions,
8 Luxembourg audience,
10 External links,
Answer Me This! is hosted by Helen Zaltzman, Olly Mann, and Martin Austwick, a.k.a. "Martin the Sound Man". Mann is the gadgets and games columnist for Readers Digest and a regular pundit on Sky News and BBC Breakfast; Zaltzman has written and performed comedy on BBC Radio 1 and Radio 4, and performed live with Josie Long and Robin Ince's Book Club and School for Gifted Children. Zaltzman and Mann met at St Catherine's College, Oxford, where they both studied English. Austwick, a musician and singer, has a DPhil in Quantum Physics and works as a university lecturer. In 2011 Helen Zaltzman and Martin Austwick got married, with Martin subsequently changing his name to Martin Zaltz-Austwick.
The format of the show is Helen and Olly answering listeners' questions, submitted via email, answerphone or Skype, with subjects ranging from personal problems and factual queries to philosophical dilemmas or everyday petty quibbles. The episodes are punctuated by jingles, many of which feature comedians Joanna Neary, Holly Walsh, Tom Price, Lizzie Roper and Stuart Goldsmith, and musicians Martin White, Jay Foreman, and Gavin Osborn.
Guests on the show have included Helen's brother Andy Zaltzman, Isy Suttie, Ian Collins, Pappy's Fun Club, Josie Long, Jackie Mason and Jon Ronson. For the 200th edition of the show in December 2011, Helen, Olly and Martin travelled to East Sussex, Stanmore and Wolverhampton to interview their families for a special episode of the podcast.
The show has been Critic's Choice in numerous national publications, including The Times, Time Out, Radio Times, Q Magazine, and The Independent. On 27 July 2009, the show was chosen by The Guardian as one of its 'Top 10 comedy podcasts in the world'; the following day, The London Paper also named the show in its chart of the 'Top 10 homemade podcasts in the UK'.
In March 2012, Helen and Olly released Answer Me This! Jubilee, a one-off, hour-long album featuring material about Queen Elizabeth II, the British Royal family and the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee, exclusively on iTunes. On its first day of release, the album entered the UK Top 20 Album chart, and became the #1 Comedy Album in the UK.
In October 2010, Helen and Olly revealed that they had written a book adaptation of the podcast. Called "Answer Me This!", the book was published by Faber & Faber on 4 November 2010 and features questions from the podcast as well as brand new ones.
Helen and Olly made broadcasting history in December 2009, becoming the first podcasters to be given their own national radio show. "Web 2009 with Helen and Olly" was broadcast on Radio 5 Live on 31 December 2009. A second programme, called "Web 2010 with Helen and Olly" was broadcast on Radio 5 Live on 4 July 2010, and since September 2010, Helen and Olly have been the resident internet experts on Saturday Edition, 5 Live's weekly magazine programme presented by Chris Warburton. Each week at 8.15pm they talk through the web news of the week.
Great British Questions:
In Summer 2010, Helen and Olly released a series of five videos called "Helen and Olly's Great British Questions". These were made for VisitBritain and each focussed on one specific question, such as "Where is the best cup of tea in Britain?" or "Where is Britain's Hollywood?" The titles of all the videos are:
Episode One: Cheese,
Episode Two: Film,
Episode Three: Romance,
Episode Four: Tea,
Episode Five: Bathrooms,
In addition, a sixth video was released called "Great British Bloopers" which featured various outtakes and bloopers from the filming of the other five videos.
In December 2007, frustrated at having only reached as high as number 21 in the UK iTunes charts, the Answer Me This! team spent one day in Luxembourg attempting to crack the Luxembourg iTunes top 20. Their publicity stunts, including giving away free biscuits at the Christmas market and appearing on the ARA City Radio breakfast show (Luxembourg's only English speaking radio station), saw them reach number 13 in the charts within only 24 hours. They then went on to reach number 3 by the end of the week.
Their Luxembourg endeavour was featured in the Telegraph, on Sky News and is documented in a video on YouTube.