James O’Brien steps down as host of JOE’s ‘Unfiltered’ podcast

O’Brien takes to the guest’s chair for his farewell episode, as he is interviewed by award-winning BBC broadcaster Fi Glover

James O’Brien and Fi Glover in the studio

After one year as host of JOE’s chart-topping and critically acclaimed show, Unfiltered, which has a weekly audience in the hundreds of thousands, James O’Brien has decided to step down from his role due to other contract commitments.

Speaking on his final episode, where he was interviewed by friend and former colleague, BBC’s multiple award-winning presenter Fi Glover, O’Brien said “This is one of the things in my life that I have done, which I am proudest of. It has been an absolute joy and it is only because of various career pressures that I can’t carry on doing it. It is a body of work that I think will stand the test of time. I think Akala [episode 18] made me feel intellectually intimidated for the first time in a long time, and that’s a great feeling, that’s encouraging. People like Ben Drew, Plan B [episode 21], seeing a young man who has been through a lot and comfortable talking about it. That was very up-lifting.”

            James O’Brien and Akala in the studio

Unfiltered, a long-form interview series which began in October 2017, has quickly built up a huge loyal following of listeners thanks in part to a wide and varied collection of guests – including Russell Brand, Lily Allen, Gary Lineker, Idris Elba, Eric Cantona, Kate Tempest, Jamie Oliver, Akala, Bill Browder, Caitlin Moran and, most recently, Gina Miller.

O’Brien is the final interviewee for the current series of the show, with a new host taking over after a short hiatus.

This week, both the show and James O’Brien himself were nominated for two ARIA awards by the Radio Academy. Unfiltered has been downloaded over four million times since its launch, and maintained a 5-star rating on Apple Podcasts from thousands of reviews. Highlights from the show have made news, and educated and informed countless people through tens of millions of views on social media.

JOE’s Head of Audio Simon Clancy thanked James for his enormous contribution: “James has been everything we hoped for and much more. He has helped to turn Unfiltered into one of our great success stories. He’s hard-working, determined and beautifully curious about interesting people and their stories. We will miss him greatly, both personally and professionally.”

O’Brien’s departure isn’t the end of Unfiltered, as the show will carry on with a new host who will be appointed in the coming weeks.

“As sad as we are that James is leaving, this is a great opportunity for Unfiltered to evolve and for a new presenter to bring their own flavour to it,” said Clancy. “After a brief hiatus, we’ll be back with James’s successor and will continue to make the sort of interesting, thought-provoking and informative series as we have to date.”

You can subscribe to Unfiltered, and find all 50 episodes, here.

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