Added: Temika Epperson - Date: 13.12.2021 07:08 - Views: 39569 - Clicks: 2700
Ah, the BBC. The Beeb. Much loved and much moaned about, talking about it is the national pastime. If it's not being hammered by the right for being full of wet lefty student types, it's taking a booting from the left for giving time to climate-denying, Brexit-loving right-wingers. Come on. The BBC does literally everything, and it generally does it really well. In the podcast age, it's gone from strength to strength. It's given new voices the space and freedom to do their thing.
Venerable old institutions have been given fresh impetus, and another lease on life. Dead Ringers continues unabated, and will surely outlast us all. It's not perfect, but it's about as perfect as a gigantic, publicly owned corporation of nearly a century's standing can expect to be in And it's got some of the internet's finest podcasting talent on its books. The new world which we're tiptoeing into is a bit frightening for a lot of people. But what is undeniably uncertain and weird is also an opportunity to stop doing things just because it's the way they've always been done.
In these bite-sized podlets, all about six minutes long, various experts and pundits put forward the case for ways that everything can change for the better. If you've been deluged in incredibly dubious WhatsApp chain letters and shared Facebook posts — usually from over-credulous older relatives — you'll know that there's an awful lot of bad science, loud rumour and wild Coronavirus conspiracy theories around.
The BBC's Seriously This one from the World Service is ideal if you want to keep on top of the major big-picture developments but can't bear being drawn into the rabbit-hole, terror-scrolling through Twitter for hours on end. Every day there's a four-minute episode on the global situation featuring reporting from affected areas and the latest on medical news.
Radio 1's Greg James, cricket journalist and former Maccabees guitarist Felix White and England cricketing legend Jimmy Anderson sound like the original odd throuple, but it works. Greg's notionally in charge, Jimmy's a bit mardy and has a lot of insight into the highest levels of the game, and wide-eyed Felix brings his guitar along for a strum in the background. As the name suggests a tailender is a player who's rubbish at batting and so goes lastit's not a for-the-he hour of cricket nerdishness — it's always accessible and funny even if you've only a passing knowledge of the game, and while it's been running for long enough to have a litany of recurring jokes, now's the time to get caught up before the Twenty20 World Cup next summer.
The load-bearing pillar of Saturday evening telly goes podcast. Rather than doing the same VAR-outrage-by-s spiel they have to wheel out every week, Match of the Day: Top 10 sees Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and Ian Wright bicker amiably over their picks for the best 10 Premier League players in various — so far we've had the 10 best captains and 10 best goalscorers, though given the all-time league scorer's around the table that seems a little bit of a conflict of interests — while eating pasta in Lineker's kitchen. It's oddly comforting.
Mathew Syed presents reexaminations of ideas and phenomena which quietly changed our world, either by de or by a series of dominoes plinking into each other: how one fighter pilot completely changed how wars are fought, why Stockholm syndrome isn't what you think it is, and the time a dodgy interpretation of probability was responsible for sending a mum to jail.
It's pitched somewhere between Revisionist History and Radiolab crossed with a much less stressful and existentially challenging Adam Curtis doc, and there's superlative sound de by Benbrick, who won a Peabody award for his work on Have You Heard George's Podcast?. On 19 Aprilyear-old Timothy McVeigh drove a truck loaded with two tons of homemade explosives into downtown Oklahoma City, and detonated it outside the Alfred P Murrah federal building. He killed people and injured more. Two Minutes Past Nine retells the story, but this is not just a history podcast. The parallels between McVeigh's toxic, home-brewed terrorism and the American far-right today were thunderingly ominous even before the storming of the Capitol building in early January; now, they're immediate and frightening, and host Leah Sottile draws them out neatly.
Presenter Emily Strasser is the granddaughter of another scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project, and her telling of the story is both personal and coloured with just enough soundscaping to add life without turning into hacky historical dramatising.
The first series' in-depth retelling of the Apollo 11 mission — Armstrong, Aldrin, one giant step, etc — was gripping and inspiring, and while you'd be hard-pressed to make a podcast not gripping or inspiring out of the moon landings, it was beautifully done. The second season moves on to the Apollo 13 mission, which blasted off less than a year later, and tells its story with the same mixture of original interviews and archive from key figures, including mission commander Jim Lovell.
The drama of an exploding oxygen tank and the desperate race to get all three astronauts back to Earth alive, frommiles away, is obvious. But the real intrigue comes in the podcast's exploration of the all the other forgotten obstacles and calamities to overcome on the way. The BBC's vast archive of everything that's happened in the last 80 years or so is rife for rummaging through — see also Greg James's Rewinder podcastwhich knits together tidbits from the past which have unexpected resonance again today — but so far its coverage of sporting moments from history has been relatively under-excavated.
Replay is exactly that: just the BBC's coverage of sporting events of the past, with no talking he or over-explanation from the present. The stories we tell about sport tend to flatten out all the strange little moments and slow-building tension that makes sport so engrossing and rich, but hearing the stories as they were told when they happened puts all of that back in.
Try the second half of England v Holland at Euro '96, then hit the interview with Sir Stanley Matthews, and go from there. Some, though, go further. One Taste promised to help its members master orgasmic meditation and find empowerment through sexual awakening, but sharp business practice turned into coercive control and abuse.
An interesting and different take on history podcasting, this: half the episodes are relatively straight archive-led explorations of the late Eighties and how drugs helped rave culture leap from the underground to become the definitive futureshock youth movement, inspiring both utter joy and moral panic on the way; the other half sees actors like David Morrissey, Ade Edmondson and Meera Syal in monologues as ex-ravers reminiscing, dealers, DJs, and undercover cops.
Especially in the case of the Second Summer of Love, as blearily misremembered and idealised an era as there is, it feels quite apt. Each time, hosts Chinny and Astrid dig into a historic moment from a different African nation, from South Sudan's independence in and the civil wars which preceded it, to Kenyan environmentalist champion Wangari Maathai's Nobel Prize win in Well-researched and in-depth, but always suffused with its hosts' breezy charm, this is an accessible and insightful way into the complex network of nations which make up 21st century Africa.
Londoner George Mpanga, better known as George the Poet, might want to invest in a sturdier mantelpiece. His current set-up must be groaning under the weight of the gongs his podcast has earned him - four gold awards and two silvers at the British Podcast Awards, plus Podcast of the Year - and the second series has kept the quality up.
It's hard to describe exactly what it is, though. Short fiction? It's all of that and more. It sounds like the future of podcasts. Impressively still-quiffed broadcasting stalwart Melvyn Bragg has been presenting In Our Time since it started inand while the series' strength has always been its esoteric, magpie eye for a topic, there haven't been many more unexpected than it's exploration into how teeth came to exist. But, as ever, it's intensely fascinating. If you're unfamiliar, In Our Time sees Bragg throw questions to three academic experts in a given field, whittling away at any jargon or waffle to get to the fundamentals of what happened and why it matters.
With its commute-friendly minute run time and back catalogue of more than shows on every subject across history, literature, music, science and technology from computing pioneer Ada Lovelace to the religion of Zoroastrianismit's found renewed purpose in the podcast age. Life is tough, but this might be the best way to add some grease to the grind: Sir David Attenborough reading JA Baker's classic piece of nature writing on the titular bird of prey.
It takes the form of diary entries covering autumn to spring in Baker's native Essex, and despite being published 53 years ago, his prose has a direct, visceral punch which makes it feel timeless. Peregrines are both beautiful and terrifying — the hook-tooth at the end of their bill is used to dig in between the vertebrae of other birds so they can snap their spinal cords — and frankly so is the sensation of staring down the barrel of a new decade. Despite the name, this anthology series of little lectures is anything but tedious. Sure, on the face of it there's little to explore in, say, the old noises that video game cartridges used to make when they booted up, or pencils, or doormats, or the roof of the service station at Markham Moor on the A1.
But these bite-size podcasts make eloquent cases for them, and encourage you to look at the everyday wonders that surround you. Based loosely on his recent book Perfect, Sound, Whateverin which Acaster argued that was the best year for new music ever, Perfect Sounds sees him introduce fellow comedians to the albums which convinced him this was an incontrovertible fact.
Life moves pretty fast, as Illinois' most famous malingerer once said, but unless you're one of those psychopaths who listens to them at one-and-a-half-times speed, podcasts are a way of slowing down. Radio 3's Slow Radio really leans into that: its patiently paced minute segments are varied — sometimes it'll be an interview surrounded by a lush natural soundscape, as in this recent exploration of the eeriness of the English countryside, and sometimes an orchestral works woven around the sound of the dawn chorus in the Ein Bokek canyon in Israel — but it's all tied together with an unhurried sense of calm.
Arthur Cravan isn't in the roll call of Great British Artists, but this podcast tells his life story over ten minute episodes and makes the case for him as a man working more than a century ahead of his time.
His surreal, Dada-influenced stunts and pranks anticipated the Situationists of the late Fiftiess and his experiments speak to our troubles with fake news and trolls. His whole life was a kind of living artwork and you can see his influence in Gilbert and George and Andy Warhol among others. He wasn't just an artist though: he dodged conscription in the First World War and became the amateur heavyweight boxing champion of France. If you've never really been into radio drama, this might be the radio drama for you.
The things that might normally wind you up — constant grunting and sighing, characters walking into rooms and describing where they are and why they're there — are conspicuously absent. Then again, so are a lot of the other norms of radio drama. It's been described as a kind of audio Black Mirrorbut the first episode, in which a soldier becomes scattered across time and space and begins to change events, is a lot more floaty and cosmic than Charlie Brooker's plot-centric futureshock series.
Not exactly The Archersthen. You've probably heard the story of Anna Delvey, the wealthy German heiress who ran up tens of thousands of dollars of debt at New York hotels and flew in a private jet, but was actually Russian-born Anna Sorokin, most recently an intern at a fashion magazine.
You might even have read the Vanity Fair piece about it allwritten by one of those taken in by Sorokin's charade. This BBC drama-doc takes a slightly different tack, mixing straight reporting with fictionalised scenes. The drama segments occasionally tip into radio drama hamminess but do summon up the surreality of Sorokin's invented life story and the factual segments adroitly pull together bits and pieces from the vast amount of reportage the story drew across the world.
It's almost too perfect to learn that Sorokin means 'magpie' in Russian. Another mystery podcast returning for a second series, The Missing Cryptoqueen was a huge hit when it arrived last year. Dr Ruja Ignatova promised millions of people that they could become wealthy if they invested in her OneCoin currency. People ploughed their savings into it on the back of her recommendation.
But OneCoin was a scam, a gigantic Ponzi scheme, and it left some investors destitute. Ignatova disappeared. The search for her continues.
So which does she choose? London is big and some of it smells a bit weird, but it's brilliant. So what makes it brilliant? The Docklands Light Railway. Then, in a close second, the people. Clara Amfo is here with a new podcast that puts you in touch with some of the city's most interesting ones. The premise is pretty simple: guests chat about the places around London that made them, while also chatting about their careers.
Perhaps the most powerful was a two-hour special edition hosted by Maurice Shauny B and Ashley DJ Ace is all about the events which ignited the Black Lives Matter protests of the summer and the two hosts' reflections on being a Black man in Britain and raising Black sons, as well as featuring listeners' thoughts. A second series of the celebratory, revelatory, myth-busting Ramadan podcast is here, and hosts Yasser, Zayna and Shehzaad have returned to document the inherent weirdness of trying to observe the holiest month of the year while in lockdown. The easy friendship between the three of them is the heart of it, as are the regular diversions into subjects like trying to date right now and the time Zayna's grandma went viral.
New episodes come on Mondays and Wednesdays. The one most irreplaceable and totally unique aspect of the BBC's podcast operation is its World Service. Nobody else can match it. The Comb broadcasts dispatches from countries across Africa, telling stories which are constantly surprising and beyond the reach of most other broadcasters. Case in point: recent episode Sand Wars, about the growing battle over sand as a raw material that's both essential to the modern world and in increasingly short supply, and what it's doing to one village in Gambia.
This might be the original chat podcast. Quirky format? Rotating notable in the chair? Gentle cross examination by cosy presenter? Start with Bob Mortimer's episode. However, the endearing daftness of his comedy has tended to keep interviewers at arm's length since he and Vic Reeves first arrived in the early Nineties. Lauren Laverne gets Bob to open up about the overwhelming shyness which has affected him since childhood, the death of his dad when Bob was a young boy, and the increasing amount of time Bob's been spending just staring into space.
While you're there, have a rummage through the Desert Island Disc archives, which go all the way back to and feature pretty much everyone who's been anyone since. Despite having turned up on Adam Buxton's podcast quite a few times — seek out the one where Louis gets tanked up on energy drinks and pulls out his surprisingly good falsetto to sing Baccarat's 'Yes Sir, I Can Boogie' — he's not hosted his own until now.
Even before lockdown, Simon Armitage was squirrelling himself away from the world in his shed looking over the Yorkshire Pennines. Can a murderer be redeemed? And will they ever meet each other face to face? Like this article? up to our newsletter to get more delivered straight to your inbox. Need some positivity right now? Subscribe to Esquire now for a hit of style, fitness, culture and advice from the experts. Type keyword s to search.
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