Home Tech Andrew Garfield, Cynthia Erivo and more team up for a (literally) Orwellian drama

Andrew Garfield, Cynthia Erivo and more team up for a (literally) Orwellian drama

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Andrew Garfield, Cynthia Erivo and more team up for a (literally) Orwellian drama

WWhat happens when you get a few British television stars to criticize television for a podcast? A painfully awkward moment, namely Joanna Page’s rather awkward recording of an up-and-coming comedian’s new show, which she called “unbearable.”

If you missed last week’s headlines, Page and her From the television co-host Natalie Cassidy discussed Lucia Keskin’s BBC Three comedy series, Things I Should Have Done.

“You know what things I should have done? I haven’t bothered to watch it,” the Gavin and Stacey star said, before confusingly congratulating the “talented” Keskin for making a show in the industry’s current climate. “It’s not often that I can’t watch something,” she continued. “I just thought, ‘My God, this is just unbearable. I am bored. I’m just honestly bored. I am bored.'”

It’s perhaps a lesson in the dangers that come with the ever-blurring line between celebrity and critic on podcasts.

Speaking of celebrities, Charlotte Church’s first ever series – Kicking Back With the Cardiffians – is our top pick this week, and it’s an ode to her home city. Read on to learn more about this and our other favorites, then check out the top five controversial podcasts.

Hollie Richardson
Assistant TV editor

Choices of the week

Charlotte Church, the Cardiff-born host of a new Cardiff-focused podcast. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Kicking back with the Cardiffians
BBC Sounds, weekly episodes
“I was born in Cardiff, raised in Cardiff, and when I die, I will be Cardiff dead.” So opens Charlotte Church’s new show, which gives listeners insight into her hometown. But it is just as much a series about family, love and working-class life, as it largely concerns interviews with her relatives, friends and the local pub owner. Expect a lively, warm listening experience that wears its heart on its sleeve and is “quite sweary – because that’s just who we are”. Alexi Duggins

Finally! A show
Widely available, weekly episodes
This podcast promises to be “a show about women that isn’t just a thinly veiled, aspirational nightmare” – delivering a kind of reality TV for the ears. Each episode provides a thirty-minute insight into a different life, with the highlights being a crematorium worker, an 83-year-old nude model and a singer with a day job. Hanna Verdier

She has a name
Widely available, weekly episodes
“When the police aren’t listening, the best thing you can do is be a reporter,” says Tonya Mosley, but she’s not just a podcaster on an unsolved case. Instead, she tells a deeply courageous and personal story as she learns about a young Detroit mother who disappeared in the 1980s—and who happens to be the sister she never knew. HV

The remarkable history of your house
Widely available, weekly episodes
Ever thought about the history of wallpaper? This detailed foray into the origins of everything from dishes to refrigerators is a beautiful, story-driven look at everyday objects. Did you know that paper is inspired by a bee? Or that Oliver Cromwell banned wallpaper? You will notice that after you listen to this show. ADVERTISEMENT

George Orwell’s 1984
Audible, all episodes are now available
You might think we don’t need another retelling of the eternally relevant surveillance thriller, but with a mega cast and production like this, it’s classic storytelling at its best. Andrew Garfield is a Ministry of Truth Winston employee, while Cynthia Erivo is Julia, Tom Hardy is Big Brother and Andrew Scott is O’Brien. Oh, and Muse’s Matt Bellamy composes the score. Hollie Richardson

There’s a podcast for that

Renu, the eldest sister of British girl Shamima Begum, holds a photo of her sister as she is interviewed by the media in central London. Photo: Laura Lean/AFP/Getty Images

This week, Hanna Verdier chooses five controversial podcastsfrom a masterpiece about Michael Jackson to a sit-down with Shamima Begum

Think twice
How can a Michael Jackson fan reconcile the man with his beloved music? Slow Burn’s Leon Neyfakh, a master of modern history storytelling, and knowledgeable co-host Jay Smooth mixes archival audio, interviews, and so much detailed reporting that the podcast really made listeners think twice. Of course, there are those who believe Jackson’s complicated legacy should be left alone, but Neyfakh’s skill means he doesn’t shy away from controversy, never passing judgment or hinting at what listeners should think. The podcast isn’t here to change anyone’s mind, but instead offers a nuanced account of the fallen hero.

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I miss Richard Simmons
Retro fun, a kitschy main character and a mysterious disappearance: Dan Taberski’s labor of love became a huge hit as soon as it was released. Listeners were amused and captivated by his search for flamboyant fitness guru Richard Simmons, whose disappearance in 2014 sparked many fan theories. Was he held hostage by his housekeeper, or was he hiding from the tabloids? While Missing Richard Simmons is a great listen, backlash against its public pursuit soon followed. While The New York Times called the podcast “morally bankrupt,” Taberski defended the six episodes but then “put away his giant human-sized butterfly net” and moved on.

I am not a monster: the Shamima Begum story
Joshua Baker’s podcast debuted with the story of Sam Sally, an American woman who raised support for Syria and lived in the Islamic State’s caliphate. Season two features a more high-profile figure: Shamima Begum. Telling her story opens a can of worms, but Baker does so in meticulous detail, taking listeners from east London to Syria before meeting Begum in a detention camp. And that’s exactly where the controversy lies: she describes being surrounded by men with guns as “quite exciting” and explains how she went on the trip in an attempt to fit in with her group of friends.

Diary of a CEO
“Happy sexy millionaire” Steven Bartlett isn’t normally one to stir up controversy with his podcast showing how rich people made their money (by getting up at 5 a.m. and running). But all hell broke loose when Love Island graduate and purveyor of fake tan Molly-Mae Haag rolled out the ‘everyone has the same 24 hours in a day’ theory without a thought for her own privilege. It didn’t hurt Bartlett’s podcast and he subsequently defended her, describing the response as part of “the double standard that successful women face”, claiming that previous male guests had said the same thing.

The walkers change
One of the most controversial questions in modern foodie culture came up in this podcast from Lauren Peters and Augustine Cerf: Have Walkers really switched the colors of their salt and vinegar and cheese and onion chips? Just the mention of it will make people remember that the cheese was blue and the chip flavored snack was green, but was that a false memory? Or do chip lovers live in an alternate reality? Walkers vehemently deny the color change, but even with the help of Google whistleblower Gary Lineker and an army of crispy potato lovers, the controversy rages on.

Why not try…

  • Sam Campbell and Lucy Beaumont both loved their appearances on Taskmaster – and now they have a podcast together, Sam and Lucy’s perfect brain.

  • Voice from the Dales offers a small glimpse into life as a sheep farmer in Yorkshire, with six 15-minute episodes documenting a rapidly disappearing culture.

  • Geoff Shreeves combines his two loves, football and music, with the appropriate name Football, music and mein which he talks to ex-pros like Gary Neville and Vinnie Jones.

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