In Review

Podcasts of the Week: horror, hip-hop and lockdown parenting

Featuring Louder Than a Riot, The Lovecraft Investigations, and On the Marie Curie Couch

Louder than a Riot’s Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden

“Oh, the comfort of stories with a beginning, a middle and an actual, definite end!” said Miranda Sawyer in The Observer. That, and more, is what you get with Julian Simpson’s “genuinely spooky” and totally riveting The Lovecraft Investigations, on BBC Radio 4. The Shadow Over Innsmouth, inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s novella, began last month, and I’m loving it so much I’ve “begged the publicist for more episodes”. Newcomers, though, should kick off with the first two series, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward and The Whisperer in Darkness. The production is exemplary, the storytelling deft, and the acting exquisite. Investigators Matthew Heawood and Kennedy Fisher are “played so brilliantly by Barnaby Kay and Jana Carpenter that they’ve started to feel like real people”. No spoilers, “but I wouldn’t listen while holding a full paint pot, for instance”. 

Hip-Hop Saved My Life is a popular interview-based podcast by comedian Romesh Ranganathan and producer Rupert Majendie. The new, third, series opens with the London rapper Kojey Radical, who proves a “fantastic” guest, said Francesca Angelini in The Sunday Times. He’s “straight-talking, funny” and insightful, and as ever there’s “plenty of excellent, often overlooked tracks” to enjoy. Another treat for hip-hop fans is Louder Than a Riot, said Hannah Verdier in The Guardian. This “superlative” podcast traces the “collision of rhyme and punishment in America”. NPR’s Rodney Carmichael and Sidney Madden explore whether incendiary rap lyrics encourage criminality, and investigate rumours of a “secret meeting in the early 1990s where privately owned prison authorities promised a kickback for music industry executives who promoted rap music”. It’s riveting stuff. 

I’m not entirely sure whether Rob Beckett and Josh Widdicombe’s Lockdown Parenting Hell is a “comedy podcast, or a confessional”, said Charlotte Runcie in Prospect. Either way, if you’re a parent, it’s likely to “come as a massive relief”. This is a light-hearted show in which the two comics, who both have young children, discuss the triumphs and tribulations of this difficult year with the likes of Peter Crouch, Jo Brand, Jonathan Ross and Isy Suttie. On a far more sombre note, I recommend On the Marie Curie Couch, said Runcie. This “creative and interesting” podcast features well-known people in “therapeutic conversation” with Jason Davidson, a bereavement support expert. His guests include Alison Steadman, Jane Horrocks and Hugh Grant, all of whom “talk sensitively about their own experiences of grief”, and give their thoughts on coping with bereavement and serious illness.

The Week Unwrapped: Jared’s mission, puberty and a telescopic loss

What is Jared Kushner up to? How will a new court ruling affect young trans people? And why was a great telescope left to rot? Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days.

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