In Review

Podcasts of the Week: Partridge, celebrity interviews and history

Needless to say, Alan Partridge has had the last laugh

If Alan Partridge really existed, he is “exactly the sort of person” who would have his own podcast, said James Marriott in The Times. And now he does. In the first episode of From the Oasthouse: The Alan Partridge Podcast, the TV host turned DJ explains that the idea came to him after he asked himself: “What medium allows me to communicate publicly without Ofcom regulations?” Each episode has a skeletal plot: Partridge is “going on a date/for a walk/practising personal grooming”, and so on. But mainly, From the Oasthouse is an excuse for Steve Coogan to “monologue in character” – and he does it brilliantly. There is an extra treat, however, in the form of spoof adverts for other podcasts. “Recall! Very much one for fans of Chernobyl or Watergate, Recall! follows in minute detail the lead-up to and fallout from the 1972 recall of the Triumph Toledo. [Dramatic pause.] Narrated by John Stapleton.”

For a celebrity podcast featuring a real person (and real celebrities), try David Tennant Does a Podcast With..., said Miranda Sawyer in The Observer. I’ve been sniffy about this one in the past. Tennant can be a bit “too lovely-luvvy” for my taste, and “celebs who interview other celebs rarely bring much insight”. Yet having listened to this new series, I “must reluctantly concede that Tennant is a good interviewer – knowing when to shut up and when to interject – listening hard and giving his interviewees space”. In particular, I was struck by his show with George Takei, in which the actor (Star Trek’s Lieutenant Sulu) opens up about his “astonishing life”, including his LGBT activism and his family’s internment in a Second World War camp. It is “just great”.

History, with its endless scope for “great storytelling”, is naturally fertile ground for podcasts, said Amelia Heathman in the London Evening Standard. One series that justifiably tops the history favourites lists is Lore. “Each episode looks at the darker side of history so it’s almost a true-crime podcast, with a side sharing of mysterious creatures and nightmares.” Another favourite is Dan Snow’s History Hit: Snow covers everything from Genghis Khan and the Peterloo Massacre to the legacy of John F. Kennedy. Travels Through Time is a wonderfully escapist listen in which a historian or writer talks about a point in time they would most like to “visit”. Recent episodes have had Professor Simon Hall on a trip to 1960s America, and archaeologist Dr Rebecca Wragg Sykes “going back to Neanderthal times”. Also recommended is the BBC World Service podcast Witness History, about specific moments in recent history, as described by people who were there.

The Week Unwrapped podcast: Sporting genes, Colombia and orcas

What does Caster Semenya’s latest defeat say about gender? Is Colombia slipping into conflict? And are killer whales turning against us?

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