I don’t know about you, but it has been a nice change to wake up each morning, check your phone and see some good Team GB medal stories rather than the usual lot.

Last week we mentioned some good podcasts that are following the sporting action at these Olympic Games. There’s a few more worth mentioning. Dan Snow’s History Hit did a special on the history of the modern Games, highlighting that versions of the competition existed far before Pierre de Coubertin and the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896. Sports historian Professor Martin Polley highlighted that much smaller versions of the modern competition took place all the way back in Shakespearean times and was particularly popular in the 19th Century, with amateur events taking place in Shropshire, Morpeth and Liverpool. 

The Rest Is History have also done a three part special on the Olympics, including one on how bloody the Ancient Olympics were. Meanwhile, BBC Radio 5 Live’s Olympic Mile has been speaking to Team GB medalists on their achievements. And on Jake Humphrey and Professor Damian Hughes’ High Performance Podcast, there was an interview with one of our greatest Olympians, the now two-time Olympic 100m breaststroke champion Adam Peaty. As well as talking to him about his training, nutrition and how he gets the game mode on the day (his ‘flow state’), there was also a thought provoking discussion on how it can all feel Olympian once you get home: “You come home and everyone expects you to live this life you have been, but that whole goal of why you have been living that life is gone,” he said. “So what keeps my nutrition intact, what keeps all this other stuff intact, ‘why am I not going down the pub?’ my social life … everything revolves around the Olympic Gold.

“If you take yourself out of that it is very hard, very hard to be normal, out of that flow state. It takes a few days to adjust back into that.”

STAR NAMES ON PODCASTS THIS WEEK

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Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead

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The Town That Knew Too Much – At the start of the first lockdown, podcaster Nick Hilton decided to pass the time by making a documentary exploring the curious history of the town where he grew up: East Grinstead. It was a good decision. His documentary on the small Sussex town (and its surprising links to fringe religions such as Scientology, Paganism and Opus Dei) became a hit, praised for its curiosity, storytelling and wide-ranging selection of stories.

Now Hilton is back with a new seven part series exploring the town of Cheltenham and how it has become the home of British spying. It doesn’t start with the stories of Alan Turing and Bletchley Park or GCHQ, but rather centuries earlier with tales of Regency England and King George. There’s an eclectic mix of contributors, everyone from Alan Rusbridger to Anneka Rice. 

And in a lovely podcast twist, there’s a puzzle woven into the podcast itself, which you try to work out during its run. 

I Am An ImmigrantA series that challenges our assumptions on the stories of immigrants and refugees, through interviews with those who want to share their own stories and experiences. There’s an interview with Babou Ceesay, who went from working as a cleaner in London, to working in the corporate world, to being nominated for a BAFTA for his role in ‘Damilola, Our Loved Boy.’ There’s also an interview with Meltem Avcil, a campaigner and social entrepreneur, who talked about seeking asylum as a child and trying to find your own place in the world. It is also presented by an immigrant, Christine Bacon, who moved to the UK fifteen years ago. 

The best thing about this podcast is how it highlights that not one experience is the same and that we shouldn’t confine people to a single word.

Spotify Podcast of the Week – The Ringer Music ShowThis week’s Spotify pick is The Ringer Music Show which is part of The Ringer network of podcasts. Presented by Charles Holmes and Grace Spelman, the show brings news, hot takes and reporting about the music industry. This week’s episode is presented just by Grace and looks at the culture and etiquette of creating a perfect party playlist, breaking down the rules and responsibilities of taking control of the aux cord. She also speaks to writer Derek Robertson about Steely Dan and why they’ve acquired a cult following amongst millennials and why they’ve become such rich fodder for meme culture.

The Wild with Chris MorganAnother podcast that explores the natural world in an engaging way. Presented by the British-American ecologist and presenter Chris Morgan, this series features stories of animals that are managing to thrive despite the presence of humans, from cicadas that overwhelm communities as they emerge every 17 years, to an investigation into flies and why they are ever so hard to swat.

A recent episode followed wildlife biologists as they tracked rattlesnakes as they emerged from hibernation, Morgan and his producer carrying a 20ft pole so they can record them from a safe distance. You can feel the nerves though as they realise that if either of them are bitten, the nearest hospital is a ninety minute drive away.

The Old Man in the Boat – Finally, an interesting new podcast that introduces philosophical concepts to children. 

Brought to you by Fun Kids (and starring both Harry Enfield and The Wire’s Clarke Peters) The Old Man in the Boat follows an old man, in a boat, speaking to various animals. There he muses on some concepts underpinning our society, from freedom, to religion and liberty, mixed in with light comedy so the concepts never feel too laboured. It’s smart. I kind of wish I learnt some of these concepts before I did my Politics degree (I don’t want to reveal the marks I got.) Three episodes are out so far, with new episodes each week.

Before I leave, let’s have a look at a couple more winners of British Podcast Awards winners (powered by Amazon Music) and what they have been up to.

Field Recordings, which won Best New Podcast, has been releasing some episodes recorded all over the world in the past few weeks. Listen to a mesmerising toad chorus croaking just after a thunderstorm in Utah and the sound of a hike in the Eastern Alps.

Meanwhile Answer Me This!, which won The Gold Award to celebrate Olly Mann and Helen Zaltzman’s long running series, have been re-broadcasting their favourite episodes ahead of the podcast’s finale next month. In the episode they got members of their family to read out listener questions.

Categories: Weekly Picks

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