Picks of the week
The Art of Asking Everything
Rock star and all-round fearless force Amanda Palmer promises to sit down with “doctors, sex workers and environmentalists” to answer life’s big questions in her wide-ranging podcast. Lenny Henry describing kids’ TV classic Tiswas, with its winning combination of custard pies and putting people in cages, is a highlight, but the comic also brings startling stories of racism and advice on how to get through life. BJ Miller, who’s trying to open up the conversation around death, offers a straightforward perspective on life as a disabled person, as Palmer skilfully elicits compelling stories.
The Kurupt FM Podkast
A second series of the podcast from the People Just Do Nothing stars, featuring – as one might expect – “badman language, raw sexuality, and high levels of lyrical danger”. After five series on BBC Three and with a film still on the way, the antics of Beats, Grindah, Steves and Chabuddy G could well feel stale. So, it’s a testament to the excellent performances of Hugo Chegwin, Allan ‘Seapa’ Mustafa, Steve Stamp and Asim Chaudhry that it remains consistently cringe-inducing. Talking points include nature, travel and ‘the future’. Hannah J Davies
Producer pick: Twenty Twenty
Chosen by Charlie Phillips
Twenty Twenty rethinks the format of the nostalgia podcast by taking a simple premise – analysing one key moment of pop culture from the Year 2000 each episode – and adding some deep cross-arts context about what happened next, and how our lives today are changed by that moment. Less ‘I Love The 90s’ rent-a-quotes, more weekly documentary essays.
Standout episodes so far have focused on Big Brother, Faking It, and how Destiny’s Child’s found their classic lineup, forming the cultural force that is Beyonce in the process. Another highlight is the episode on Craig David’s earnestness, a quality that spawned a backlash from within and without the underground garage subculture. Its hosts, journalists Tara Joshi and Simran Hans, have a serious love for 2000s pop culture and, having grown up with the boundaries between supposedly high and low culture coming down, know how to expertly shift between funny and profound.
The secret of their series may be in them both having been children rather than teens in 2000; in some cases they’re talking about culture that they saw older people consuming, giving it a mystic status. Having engaged with some of this stuff a few years later, away from the hype, their analysis has more distance than that of someone in their 40s wistfully reliving their glory days.
From the makers of Tunnel 29 and The Ratline, the BBC’s new series of its Intrigue strand, Mayday, considers the rumours which emerged following the death of White Helmets organiser James Le Mesurier in Turkey in 2019. Presenter Chloe Hadjimatheou carefully explores what began “as an investigation into the story of a man with an astonishing life and a mysterious death …. but ended up taking me on a bizarre journey down rabbit holes of misinformation. Ultimately this is a story about how truth functions in modern warfare.” The Guardian’s Today in Focus also dedicated an episode to the events around Le Mesurier’s death this week.