The fall of Kabul to the Taliban last weekend shocked and outraged the world.
On Tuesday, Stories of our Times interviewed Ahmadzai, a former interpreter who had worked with both British and American troops, but has been left behind in Afghanistan. Only using his surname to protect his identity, Ahmadzai is one of thousands of interpreters who are now fearing for their lives in the country. “To leave me behind in Kabul, you are just making [the] Taliban come and kill me,” he told The Times’ Manveen Rana. “They will just shoot me.”
The Bunker, a politics podcast, released a special episode where the panellist and former diplomat Arthur Snell spoke to a contact currently hiding within the country: “The Taliban have made fake promises to the international community,” he said. “Of course they have not changed.”
Also listen out for The Political Party, where host Matt Forde was joined by Tom Tugendhat the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee: “Don’t think that this is a change of regime. This is a vicious death cult,” he said.
A number of podcasts have released useful explainers on Afghanistan’s recent history, such as The Intelligence by The Economist (“there was always a risk that as American forces and NATO allies withdrew from Afghanistan, the Taliban would surge,” said the show’s host, Jason Palmer, “but with three times the troop numbers, no-one predicted the Afghan forces would fold so fast.”)
Finally, the BBC’s Americast returned with a special episode looking at the implications of the US withdrawal, hosted by Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis and North American editor Jon Sopel. The podcast was supposed to be off until the US Midterms.
“Back in June we spoke about Joe Biden’s return to Europe, coming to Cornwall, then going to Brussels and Geneva. On every step of the way he said ‘America is back,’” said Sopel. “But back where?”
NOTABLE NAMES ON PODCASTS THIS WEEK
If you have listened to a great guest on a podcast, let us know by filling in this form and it might get featured in an upcoming newsletter.
- Comedians Playing Fantasy Premier League, which features comedians playing fantasy premier league (obviously) with Jon Richardson and Matt Forde, has launched with a double bill of episodes. Their first guests are Richard Osman and Alex Brooker.
- The comedian Aisling Bea, who you can watch alongside Sharon Horgan in the excellent This Way Up, is on Comfort Eating with Grace Dent this week.
- The musician Johnny Flynn and nature writer Robert Macfarlane are on Folk on Foot this week, a podcast hosted by Matthew Bannister mixing the great outdoors with the best of British folk music. They go on a summer’s walk (there was a summer?) at Wandlebury near Cambridge.
- Psychotherapist Anna Mathur is on The Sleep Mums, a podcast that gives advice and support on how to ensure your baby sleeps through the night.
- Stand-up comedian Shaparak Khorsandi is the latest guest on Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster.
- Natalie Imbruglia is on Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place.
Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead
If you want your podcast featured, or you have a great recommendation, all you need to do is fill in this simple form and might get featured in a future newsletter.
Lecker: A Food Podcast – There have been a lot of podcasts that have explored our love of food, but not many podcasts that have explored the environment that we cook these meals within: our kitchens. It’s a surprise really, considering how much time of our lives we spend in them. Also when you realise that, as this podcast about eating by Lucy Dearlove explores, our bedrooms and living rooms are all uniquely styled, yet many of our kitchens look exactly the same.
The first episode of the well researched and intriguing podcast delves into the history of our kitchen, which started as a designated area away from a place of eating and entertainment. “This kitchen living arrangement, which is so desirable now and open plan, was actually seen more as a working class thing,” says design historian Professor Sugg Ryan.
There’s also a discussion into the history of kitchen cabinets, which started directly after World War I (1919, to be exact). Handy if you want to know the absolute earliest a can of something will be from if you find something unmarked in the back of your cupboards.
Spotify Podcast of the Week – The Teamsheet – Spotify’s daily dream 5-a-side podcast welcomes Harry Pinero from another Spotify Original podcast, Who We Be Talks, this week. Harry runs host Craig Mitch through his 5-a-side team and as a big Manchester United fan, you can guess that there are a few links with Old Trafford in his squad. The Teamsheet is featured in Spotify’s Football Now playlist, a personalised mix of music and football podcasts which now features content from Goal Diggers and Tortoise amongst many others. Search for Football Now on Spotify to listen!
Taking Apart Terror – A podcast that tries to explain something that has been present within our lives, but whose origins and motives are rarely explained: global terror.
Presented by former British soldier Adnan Sarwar, and brought to you by The Global Coalition against Daesh, this series explains how terror organisations run, what they are motivated by, how they are funded and why they exist in the first place.
“Terrorists want us to be confused, they want us to be scared,” says Sarwar. “But if we know more we are more likely to see them for what they really are. And maybe we will be a little less scared.”
Jimmy’s Jobs of the Future – There are a lot of entrepreneurial podcasts that feel like you’re listening to an audio version of LinkedIn – full to the brim of boasts and buzzwords that make you feel cold and alienated.
So it is a relief that this podcast, by business expert Jimmy McLouglin, doesn’t do any of that. His podcast features interviews with entrepreneurs who are shaping the future of business, with the discussions using language we can all understand. This series is particularly useful for anyone who is thinking of starting their own business and wants some inspiration, or is finishing full time education and wants to work out the new trends and companies to look out for. The third series has just started, with a recent episode looking at social impact businesses (those are businesses that try to do good as well as make money).
Make or Break – In business, tough decisions are an inevitability. One single decision can make a business or bring it to its knees. Auddy’s newest podcast, Make or Break, supported by The Open University, dives into the world of high stakes decision-making to find out what went on behind the scenes of some of the biggest business decisions in recent history. Each episode, host and journalist Owen Bennett-Jones speaks to the business leaders who risked everything. From winning big to losing it all, we hear how these leaders navigated their leap of faith. Guests include Gerald Ratner, Liz Lange, Ramesh Vangal, and more.
Pressed – A podcast worth mentioning because it is thundering up the podcast charts (and deservedly so). This BBC Radio 1Xtra podcast features influencers Nella Rose, Mariam Musa and Adeola Patronne discussing topics that have been on their mind over the past week with honesty and honour. The podcast’s strength is simply the chemistry between them.
The hosts have known each other for years before this podcast came about, so when you listen you forget that they are in a podcast studio at all. That’s a real skill.
A small (but important) correction. In an earlier edition of this newsletter I said that Rosie Wilby’s The Breakup Monologues was appearing at the Underbelly Festival the day the newsletter was in your inbox, when in fact it was the day before (making it rather difficult to get tickets when it had already happened – d’oh!). The good news though is that you can now listen to the live special episode, with guests Felicity Ward and Maisie Adam, on their podcast feed.
And finally, if you want television recommendations as well as audio ones, I have a newsletter which you can subscribe to here.