Aisle Be Back: Blackpool podcast gears up for season four

Podcasting has become one of the fastest growing trends in media content. Worldwide there are over three million podcasts and counting although, for the most part, they rarely reach over three episodes. This has not been the case for The Middle Aisle Podcast, the madcap comedy-gameshow podcast thought up by four lads from Blackpool.

Well on the way to two-hundred shows, The Middle Aisle is made by four friends from Blackpool who, since beginning recording in 2021, have appeared on Channel 4’s Secrets from the Middle Ailse with Denise Van Outen, hit the UK Improv Comedy Charts top 10 and received an honourable mention in the 2021 dotCOMM Awards.

The show’s premise could be said to bridge the gap between gameshow and podcast. Each week, brothers, Rob and Tom Mason alongside close friends Alex Lett and Josh Bannister head out to Lidl and Aldi to peruse the infamous middle aisles. Well known for stocking everything from the brilliant to the bizarre, there seems to be no end of oddities on offer in the discount German supermarkets.

“To date, we’ve showcased more than 200 items, from hotdog toasting machines to wooden stacking pebbles, folding portable sinks and even an National Hockey League snack helmet,” says Rob, who takes turns with his co-hosts to open their proverbial checkouts and reveal the purchases for that week, often met with bewilderment, infectious laughter or a combination of the two.

“The show has a feel-good vibe and is chocker with northern camaraderie and humour,” says Rob who occasionally also features his By The Meter co-founder Nathan Parker or Parka Monkey’s drummer Craig Bunney. “It’s a Blackpool project seeking to promote the town in its best light as an entertainment capital.”

Having pondered over the desire to create a podcast, back in 2021 the four friends knew they needed a format.

“You can’t just expect people to listen to four randomers talking so the need to find a discernible topic or reason became paramount,” says Rob. “At the start if the year, I had some sort of revelation whilst shopping in Lidl and ideas began to formulate.” By April, they’d acquired the equipment necessary to create a makeshift studio in Rob’s dining room and after he and Alex recorded a pilot episode to see how well the format worked, the show hit the ground running.

By May that year, they had over three-thousand downloads and were reaching audiences as far as America. Halfway through the first series, they began to invite guests to participate. A new show was created to allow the lads the freedom to talk. The other show, aptly named The Staff Room runs in conjunction with the main show and features different sections, such as Josh’s ridiculous news reports and Don’t Ask Tom, where they invite the audience to send in daft questions for Tom, who doesn’t really like to be bothered.

Me and Alex spent ten gruelling weeks formulating an application to the Arts Council. It took the Arts Council less than two days to reject the proposals claiming podcasting was not an art form.

At the end of the first series, by way of continuing this newfound love for podcasting, they released a third show, The Digital Ailse. This sister show to the main feature, explores the insanity found in the darkest corners of the internet, or Wish, if you’d prefer. Opening up the realms of online shopping, The Digital Aisle carries the same format and now stands as their Patreon exclusive content, a platform from which you can subscribe to the show to help support their efforts and in return, receive extra content.

At the end of 2021, the lads decided to create a charity Christmas single. The 12 Days of Christmas Middle Aisle Parody took items that had appeared on the show to 12 locations around the town and was recorded and edited by themselves, in just two weeks.

Released on Bandcamp for £1, the money made from the single was added to the money raised by the raffle conducted at the end of the first series where they gave away all of the items they’d bought, in job lots. Donating £261 to McMillan, the chosen charity of series one winner, Alex, the podcast has a wholesome streak to it as well. The raffles are a recurring event, and the money is always donated to charity.

“Because we just dived straight in, headfirst, we’ve had to overcome struggles and issues along the way,” says Rob “We realised that a recording studio needed to be a little more than a back room if we were to achieve a professional sound so we invested in five office partitions which served to dampen the reverberations in the room. Now we always get compliments on how good the show sounds, which was mostly owed to Alex’s verging on pedantic approach to doing things properly.”

After the end of the second series, they started to think more about how they could move the show forwards. With the format having a heavy visual offering, video podcasting was set as their next objective.

“Me and Alex spent ten gruelling weeks formulating an application to the Arts Council. Our plan was to rent some office space, build a studio and then film episodes, as well as offering the space to the wider community for use. Once submitted, it took the Arts Council less than two days to reject the proposals claiming podcasting was not an art form,” says Rob.

As the plans were made and mapped out, they then took to building their own studio from the ground up in one of their own gardens. Over the space of six months the studio was completed, repeat with the blood, sweat and tears of the comedic quartet. Series three began, and the show is now a full video performance. With an established audience hungry for more, the team is now gearing up to record their fourth.

A break in recording has found the boys busy making upgrades to their studio and seeking an even more refined show. Filming is set to begin in the next couple of weeks, so the time to get up to speed with The Middle Aisle Podcast is now.

You can find the show on The Middle Aisle YouTube channel, website, iTunes, Spotify or any good podcast provider. You can also give them a follow on social media @themiddleaislepodcast.

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  • Show Comments (1)

  • Alex

    Been brilliant since the start and getting even better, great idea and the well of Middle Aisle madness will never run dry, get involved everyone!

    Different Alex to the one referenced in the article…

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