Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. TV & Radio
6 May 2020updated 03 Aug 2021 1:49pm

Grounded with Louis Theroux: an excellent hour of story-swapping

Jon Ronson joined Theroux for the inaugural episode of his new lockdown podcast, which sees him interview a different guest each week. 

By Antonia Quirke

“Is this how Zoom works?” frowns Jon Ronson. “Zoom must be making so much money right now,” nods Louis Theroux, as the pair confab via the video call service for Theroux’s inaugural lockdown podcast, which sees him interview a different guest each week. It is such an excellent hour of story-swapping, with Ronson in upstate New York and Theroux in London. 

Not friends, they’ve envied each other from afar, both having monetised the ability to be the British person who sits there looking simultaneously appalled and accepting while some gun nut says incoherent things. Amusingly, Theroux remembers balking at transporting burlap sacks for a cross burning with the Klu Klux Klan, and Ronson reminds us that David Icke thought Cherie Blair was a lizard but not Tony. Neither man boringly pretends to not be extremely successful. Theroux has his own section of BBC iPlayer for God’s sake, like Top Gear. 

Theroux is synonymous with “intelligent investigative documentary making, with a moral basis”. This seemingly gentle, listening Alpha… pretending to be Beta. We’ll forgive anyone in this country (even Gordon Ramsay!) if they “don’t suffer fools”, but Theroux has a brand of mildness that makes him particularly powerful. Such suckers we are in the UK for lightly worn intelligence. Probably because we’re a kowtowing, forelock-tugging kind of nation and have to find ways of getting round that. Hence, the humble posho is so adored. 

Theroux is an acute person (“I had a tiny squirt of panic” he says here, a brilliant description) who accomplishes his job by generally appearing to be obtuse. That money shot: Louis Theroux looking troubled. Although I suspect that Theroux is a bit obtuse, or wrapped up in himself – that his acting is a bit more method than you first think. That’s why he’s so good at it. But hey, it’s Louis Theroux, and we love him. Although as a rule it’s probably a good idea to not love people off the TV too much. (Apart from David Attenborough, obviously.) Future episodes will feature Lenny Henry, Boy George and Miriam Margolyes. Anticipate some epic oversharing. 

Grounded with Louis Theroux 
BBC Radio 4

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Content from our partners
Why competition is the key to customer satisfaction
High streets remain vitally important to local communities
The future of gas

This article appears in the 06 May 2020 issue of the New Statesman, Remaking Britain