To wrap up 2018, the TimeOut team has picked their favourite podcasts from 2018 - they're not ranked, but recommended in the hopes you'll enjoy them too.

BEST COMEDY: CAPITAL

Our morning commute got off to a cracking start this year, thanks to bone-dry humour of Capital. The six-part series featured a cast of British comics as they envisioned a world where capital punishment had been reinstated – and they were the bureaucrats charged with executing the executions. The improvised series cut uncomfortably close to the bone as it made a mockery of politics, bureaucracy and the public in general. If you've ever been roped into a corporate work group, you'll immediately relate to the awkward chat and meaningless jargon. If you haven't binged this yet, consider this our Christmas gift to you. - Joanna Hunkin
Honourable mention: Dear Joan and Jericha

These fictional agony aunts brought more than a few tears to our eyes this year, as they offered up practical [read: utterly absurd] advice to their radio listeners on how to deal with life in the modern age. Funny, filthy and totally bonkers, Dear Joan and Jericha is guaranteed to make you weep. - Joanna Hunkin

BEST DOCUMENTARY: THE HABITAT

Humans have long been obsessed with the idea of life on Mars. But as technological advancements mean it could soon become a reality, there remains one major weak link in the quest: Humans. Just how will humans cope with the isolation required to survive a mission to Mars? To find out, six volunteers were locked in a dome on a remote Hawaiian volcano field, to simulate life on the red planet and spend a year in absolute isolation. Their journey was captured in full by journalist Lynn Levy, who listened to hours of audio recordings from the dome to capture this extraordinary story. - Joanna Hunkin

BEST INVESTIGATION: UNCOVER: ESCAPING XVIXM

It's the kind of 'get' a journalist dreams of: running into an old childhood friend only to find out she's just escaped a cult. That's what happens when podcaster Joshua Bloch runs into actor Sarah Edmondson and finds out she's left NXIVM, Keith Raniere's self-help group accused of multi-level marketing, sex slavery and branding. Quick: where's the 'record' button? Edmondson offers up her own frank and harrowing personal account of her time in the group, and through Bloch's intimate interviews, shows how conflicted those that have left the group are. - Chris Schulz

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BEST NEWS: CALIPHATE

Taking a human approach to an issue many find too vast to understand, the New York Times' ground-breaking podcast Caliphate opened the story behind Islamic State in a way we'd never seen (or heard) before. Through the voices of Times reporter and Isis expert Rukmini Callimachi, as well as a young Isis recruit from Canada, Caliphate explored themes of fear and religion as it attempted to understand the ideologies of Isis, and who exactly it is that America is fighting. It's a gripping, addictive listen, and one that breaks new ground for the possibilities of podcast storytelling. - Chris Schulz
Honourable mention: Speaking Secrets

As the #metoo movement swept the globe, Kiwi journalist Georgina Campbell explored how New Zealand women have been affected by sexual abuse and harassment, sharing harrowing stories and asking important questions. - Joanna Hunkin