Podcasts have grown exponentially in popularity in recent years and are now listened to by millions of people around the world every single day. There’s no limit to the subjects covered or genres explored: whether you want some tips on cooking the best Sunday roast ever or the lowdown on the latest breakthroughs in medical tech, you’ll find not just one but hundreds of podcasts that fit the bill.
Given the way that ‘casts have captured the public’s imagination, it’s no surprise that studios have been keen to get a slice of the action and have been grabbing the chance to buy up the rights to some of the most popular podcasts, keen to develop them into TV shows or movies.
You may be surprised at just how many of your favorite shows started as a podcast; we round up three of the best of them below.
Here are 3 Great TV Shows that Started as Podcasts
Gimlet Media were the folk behind this extremely popular fiction podcast that got picked up by a studio and transformed into a critically-acclaimed TV drama series. Like the podcast, the show alternates between two distinct timelines, telling the story of a former case worker whose role involved helping soldiers make a successful transition back to civilian life.
The TV version of Homecoming starred Julia Roberts and was adapted by Sam Esmail. There have been two seasons of the show to date, and it’s been nominated for a slew of awards, including for Best Television Drama, Best Actor and Best Actress at the Golden Globes, and for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in an Episode at the American Society of Cinematographers Awards. A new series of the show is likely to be on the cards in the very near future.
Homecoming was also nominated for an award in Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing at the 2021 Golden Reel ceremony, demonstrating the producers’ success in re-imagining the original podcast music used, replicating the ambiance of the aural version of the story.
Each episode of the horror podcast Lore delved into a different aspect of spooky folklore, historical events or legends, to relate stories of vampires, shipwrecks, and gremlins, or to recount the true stories of terrible murders. The creator of the podcast, Aaron Mahnke, developed the TV adaptation and played the narrator in each episode, too.
Like the podcast, the TV series, which can be found on Amazon, explores a different theme each episode and reveals the kernels of truth that lie at the heart of some of our darkest collective nightmares.
There have been two seasons, so far, of this show, with the first season especially received well by critics and audiences alike.
And now for something completely different! StarTalk began life as a hit podcast by astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson in 2015 before making the transition to TV: with Tyson still in situ as host, the show moved to its new home at National Geographic morphing into a long-running talk show that became just as popular as the podcast.
Tyson is a compelling, captivating, and engaging host, and his show has covered topics as diverse as the possibility of extraterrestrial life, the environment, and the subjects of popular sci-fi.
Episodes feature interviews with guests, including Fabien Costeau, the famed aquanaut, and the oceanographer Sylvia Earle; viewers are treated to stunning marine footage as well as compelling discussion with these pioneers of the sea. Tyson is joined by figures from outside of the world of science, too: the actor and activist Adam Grenier drops in for a chat, too, as does legendary singer-songwriter David Byrne.
Getting A Podcast Onto Screen
Popular podcasts are an extremely tempting proposition to studios because they are just that: popular. With an already established fanbase, there’s much less risk inherent in getting a podcast onto the small (or silver) screen than there is in pitching an entirely unknown concept into the waiting arms of the viewing public.
What makes them even more appealing is that they feature largely ready-made characters that require little to no additional development; back-stories have usually already been mapped out, and, essentially, a prefabricated fictional landscape has been constructed, ready, and waiting for a studio to add the visual element.
However, for every successful podcast that has made the lucrative transition to the screen, there are many more that have failed in the attempt or that remain languishing in the ‘development’ stage – it takes more than popularity for a podcast to step into the televisual world: for it to work, it’ll need a great writer, director, and producer who are in love with the concept more than its potential to be a money-spinner. And a knowledgeable, dedicated advocate throughout the development doesn’t hurt, either.
Watch this space for updates in the Television category on Running Wolf’s Rant.
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