In Review

Podcasts of the week: Private Eye, cinema, and being human 

Featuring I Was There Too, Page 94, The Rewatchables, and Boot Camp for the Brain

The best magazine and newspaper podcasts “sound like the institutions that spawned them”, said James Marriott in The Times. For example, The Daily – earnest, urgent and liberal – “just is The New York Times”. Remarkably, Private Eye’s podcast Page 94 manages to capture the spirit of a magazine that includes cartoons and satire, political and Fleet Street gossip, and “detailed investigations” into corporate malfeasance. “If it sometimes feels a bit cobbled together, that’s because that’s the way the readers (and now the listeners) like it.” Its “not-so-secret weapon” is, of course, Ian Hislop. Look out for the episode in which he and fellow Eye hack Francis Wheen join in conversation about Robert Maxwell, “one of the Eye’s greatest ever enemies”. Both have the “wit, long perspective and good noses for establishment hypocrisy” that makes the Eye the institution it is. 

Cinephiles are well served by podcasts, but any round-up should start with Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review, said The Daily Telegraph. Its brilliance doesn’t lie in “the wit and passion of Mark Kermode’s criticism, or the ease of Simon Mayo’s hosting, but its fusing of the two into a once-a-generation double act”. In Films to be Buried With, actor Brett Goldstein asks guests to talk about movies that “changed their lives from an imagined posthumous perspective”. It makes for “unusually heartfelt and spontaneous conversation”. You Must Remember This is a terrific narrative podcast in which journalist Karina Longworth “combs Hollywood history for scandal, long-forgotten cautionary tales and epic power struggles”. In The Rewatchables, film obsessives host a “nerdy discussion of films people love enough to watch hundreds of times”. And in I Was There Too, bit-part actors tell of “what it was like to be a victim in The Silence of the Lambs, or a passenger on the Speed bus”.

Derren Brown’s Boot Camp for the Brain is a “highly enjoyable” exploration of the brain, in which the “magic man” interviews neuro experts, behavioural scientists and assorted “people whose brain has directed them to do stuff they didn’t predict”, said Miranda Sawyer in The Observer. Brown reveals some of the science behind his tricks, but the real joy is his script and his verve in delivering it – his voice “swooping and emoting all over the shop”. Another excellent new podcast about human behaviour is Deeply Human (BBC/APM). Hosted by Dessa, a “charismatic, clever American rapper/singer”, the first episode explores dating, and has some illuminating discussions about, among other things, the paradox of excessive choice, and the role of hormones. “The experts are interesting and Dessa is fab.”

The Week Unwrapped podcast: Rare earths, Jordan and dishonour

What has Greenland’s general election got to do with China? Why has Jordan’s royal family split? And who has been stripped of their honours in secret? Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days.

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