Our Podcast Choices – December 2019

by Andrew Hughes – 9th December 2019

London Podcast Studio

We don’t only make podcasts, we also love listening to them. Here’s our pick of what we’re currently listening to on the way to work:

Nick Robinson’s Political Thinking

A great one to get into in the run-up to the general election. Each week, Nick Robinson interviews one political figure for around 45 minutes and you get to learn far more about our politicians that you do from a standard 3 minute television interview. For example, Michael Gove discusses how EU fishing policy destroyed his adoptive father’s fish processing company, contributing to the politician’s anti-EU stance.

I particularly recommend having a listen to “The Mayday One” episode. Although it may be a little out-of-date now, it tells the story of one of Theresa May’s many tumultuous days in power, but from behind the scenes. Nick simply wanders around the Houses of Parliament, College Green and the many TV and radio studios at Westminster, painting a fascinating picture of how MPs and journalists do their job on a “busy news day”.

My Favourite Murder
Podcast Production Services'

This is a very tricky one to explain and is a little dark. In short, it’s a comedy true-crime podcast. Every week, comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark each present a murder case and tell its story. The podcast has a large online following of “murderinos” on their facebook page.

If the humour sounds a little black for your tastes, its worth looking at the impact that this podcast has had. The number of downloads is in the millions, and the pair have embarked on several worldwide tours, including a visit to our nearby venue of Hammersmith Apollo.

Why this podcast is significant: The Hammersmith Apollo is not a small venue! Previously only film, TV and radio stars could fill an auditorium like this; now a podcast can do it. The media world is changing.

The Reunion

The long-running radio 4 programme has many of its episodes available on BBC Sounds. Hosted by Sue McGregor, who announced her retirement from the programme last month. It re-unites people from all kinds of diverse moments from recent history.

The list is very varied and there is sure to be a topic that anyone would find interesting. Topics include the fascinating Enfield Poltergeist case, the rise and demise of the SPD, the collapse of Northern Rock and even 1980’s comedy “The Young Ones”. Sometimes things get a little heated when two people with very differing views are brought together for the first time, such as the Wapping Dispute episode.

As a child of the 70’s I particularly recommend the Playschool episode featuring Floella Benjamin, the late Brian Cant and Toni Arthur. The team are re-united with one of the original pianists Jonathan Cohen, who gives a fascinating demonstration of how he ad-libbed his musical accompaniment to the live children’s show. Jonathan’s skill is tested once again, as he is asked to produce different styles on a piano, including a giraffe, sleaze and a terrified eagle!

Not Your Grandma’s Cancer Show
Shine Cancer Support artwork

I have to put my hands up and declare an interest in this one – we record it in our studio! As the name suggests, this podcast is devoted to young adults living with cancer and is the podcast of the Shine Cancer Support charity.

In each episode, presenter Tatum De Roeck addresses a particular topic with three guests. Topics may not be the obvious ones and are rather thought provoking. For example, in “Causes and Cures”, scientist Biochemistry Professor Gerard Evan from the University of Cambridge gives a fascinating insight into the body’s mechanisms that cause cancer. He also explains why he’s optimistic for the future.

Episodes can be incredibly moving, such as “When your Parents have Cancer” in which two teenagers discuss their situation and feelings. There are also episodes about aspects of cancer you may never have considered – for example the issue of being adequately insured on holiday when you have the condition. In “Travel, Insurance and Cancer” we meet the founder of an insurance business set up to provide suitable cover.

Despite the heavy topic, the presentation style is bright, the guest choice is great and it’s always a good listen.

Death in Ice Valley

I have to be honest and say that I got into this one rather late, via a trailer at the end of “The Missing Cryptoqueen” which is also well worth a listen. If you were a fan of “S-Town” or “Serial”, then you may well enjoy this one.

It’s a true crime podcast from last year investigating one of Norway’s most famous unsolved crimes. In 1970, a woman’s body is found in the desolate “Ice Valley” just outside Bergen. She has been burned and appears to have taken barbituates. Her identity is unknown and all labels have been cut out of her clothes. It transpires that she has been using 8 or 9 false identities when booking into hotels around the area. Could she be a spy, Nazi hunter or perhaps a sex worker? Was it suicide or murder?

In this joint production between BBC World Service and Norwegian state broadcaster NRK, the team apply modern scientific analysis such as DNA and isotope analysis to the case to try to identify the mysterious woman. They also manage to speak to a surprisingly large number of first-hand witnesses, considering the case was almost 50 years ago.

Although a little slow in places, we must just say how much we admire the atmospheric sound design and custom music used in this podcast.

Why this podcast is significant: The Facebook page draws in a huge number of armchair detectives who all work together to try to solve the case. One year later (2019), they met for an extended version of the podcast where they presented their findings.

Find out more about our London podcast studio: https://www.radiofacilities.com/podcasts/