My flatmate denies that we are now in Autumn. Despite the ferocity of the weather, he still calls this period we’re all in ‘late Summer.’ Half the time he’s still wearing shorts. I admire his optimism.
As we are all spending a bit more time indoors, this is the best time of year to get stuck into some good television. Luckily, there’s been a lot of it lately, from the much anticipated third season of Succession (if you haven’t seen it, watch from the very start) to the third American Crime Story series airing on BBC Two, this time looking at Bill Clinton’s Impeachment.
There are good podcasts recapping television too. Speaking of Succession, comedian Sara Barron and broadcaster Geoff Lloyd have got their own called Firecrotch & Normcore. As there hasn’t been an episode in two years, the podcast is a good place for a recap. Comedian Chris Addison is their first guest.
For Taskmaster fans, there’s a weekly Taskmaster: The Podcast, hosted by Ed Gamble and featuring recent victims (I mean, comedians) who have featured in the series. For Strictly fans, there’s Strictly Confidential, which features backstage interviews hosted by Joe Sugg and Kim Winston. And for Bake Off fans, there’s The Bake Down, featuring the legendary bakers Howard and Jane Beedle.
NOTABLE NAMES ON PODCASTS THIS WEEK
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- The celebrated author Malorie Blackman is on Growing up with gal-dem, an interview series where guests talk about growing up as people of colour. Blackman talks about the impact of her work on young people and whether experiences in our past can hold us back. She also talked about the final book in the Noughts & Crosses series: “It is hard to say goodbye to it, but it is time. It was going to be one book, then it was going to be three books … It’s [now] nine books! It’s a nine book trilogy!”
- Sharlene Spiteri is the first guest of the new series of The Mid•Point with Gabby Logan. The podcast, which banishes the assumptions about middle age, features the singer talking about her passions and leisurely pursuits.
- There’s a new series (and a new host) of The Media Podcast, now with audio expert Matt Deegan at the helm. Guests include media writer Maggie Brown and Endelman’s Karin Robinson, with each episode unpacking the latest media talking points and gossip.
- A new series of Alan Carr’s Life’s A Beach from this week and Rob Beckett is his first guest. The lighthearted podcast features celebrity guests dishing out hilarious travel anecdotes and tales. It’s a good escapist listen.
- Historian Mary Beard is on Out to Lunch with Jay Rayner this week, talking about her passion for classics.
Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead
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How to be Sad with Helen Russell – A provocative title, but the logic makes sense. If we want to be happier, we need to learn how we can also handle sadness. In this series, happiness researcher and author Helen Russell interviews experts who know a lot about our emotions about how best to handle the highs and lows.
Each episode is well structured, covering topics such as the perils and pitfalls of seeking perfectionism in all aspects of our life, to the necessity of rest during the week. I particularly liked an interview with Dr Julie Smith, who uses her work as a mental health professional to share advice and knowledge to her 2.8 million TikTok followers. They have a great discussion about how pushing sadness away means that it often manifests itself in another way.
“When it comes to bigger things or more significant things, those feelings often need to be processed in a more complex way. If we don’t do that, they don’t necessarily disappear or go anywhere,” says Smith. “If you start pushing things away with something like alcohol or food, then you have to keep pushing it away. The minute you stop, it all comes flooding back and it takes its chance to stay in your conscience.”
This Is Gay – A very funny, occasionally surreal sketch show that explores LGBTQ life and culture. Hosted by Kirk Flash and starring Peter Clements, Syrus Lowe, Katherine Cowell and Asha Reid, each episode explores a different topic connected to the community, the first one is ‘Pride’, sketch host Kirk Flash describes it as “the annual opportunity for
companies, I mean people, to celebrate equality, visibility and respect for everyone.”
An appeal of the series is not just the consistent jokes and observational humour, but also how inclusive it feels. It’s a sketch comedy show that doesn’t make jokes at other people’s expense.
Spotify Podcast of the Week – Idris Elba guesting on Who We Be TALKS_. – ‘The one and only Idris Elba joins Harry and Henrie on Who We Be TALKS_ to talk about his prolific career, his struggles, taking risks and playing roles as varied as Nelson Mandela, Stringer Bell and Luther. We also hear about his recent work in Sierra Leone and his plans for a long awaited movie…check out this episode exclusively on Spotify. The Who we be TALKS_ podcast is released every Tuesday and explores and celebrates artists, music and black culture.’
Bed of Lies – This time last year in this newsletter we featured a great investigative podcast series by the journalist Cara McGoogan. The award-winning series looked at one woman’s search for the truth after her partner went missing, which resulted in her finding out that he was undercover in a role sanctioned by the state.
She’s now got a new series and with that a new investigation, this one looking at the infected blood scandal of the 1970s and 1980s. Back then a new medical treatment was unveiled, hailed to be a ‘wonder drug.’ However it ended up harming many of the people it was meant to help, infecting the same people with Hepatitis C and HIV. As a result, thousands died. Shockingly, it took years for the story, which resulted in deaths all over the world, to come to light and no government or company has ever claimed liability for what had happened. Could lives have been saved?
“Death is at the heart of this story,” says McGoogan. “It’s a story of poison, greed and lies and it is one of the biggest medical disasters in history.” Two episodes are out so far, with new episodes weekly.
Am I Normal? with Mona Chalabi – My final podcast pick for this week is this well-produced and engaging podcast by data journalist Mona Chalabi. In this series she uses numbers and statistics to help us answer those questions that we often face in life, from ‘how many friends do I need?’ to ‘should I move house or stay put?’
In a rather personal episode, she explores how long it usually takes for any of us to get over a breakup, after recently having gone through a breakup herself. As she soon finds out, it is way more complex than she first thought. Partially because the studies that declare how long it should take can be using fairly unreliable data, but also because at the end of the day we are all individuals, and we all take breakups in a different way. There’s one thing we can all agree on though. “Breakups are shit,” says Chalabi.
Finally, if you are looking for some new television shows to watch, there are a number of podcasts covering the latest releases. There’s the Pilot TV Podcast with Boyd Hilton and James Dyer, plus the Radio Times Podcast featuring Jane Garvey and Rhianna Dhillon.
There’s also BBC’s Must Watch podcast each week, where I review TV shows alongside Nihal Arthanayake and Hayley Campbell. Episodes are out each Monday.
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