In Review

Podcasts of the week: middle age, sport and criminal minds

Featuring The Shift, Letters From A Killer, Tailenders and more

“As a lithe and nubile 28-year-old, I have to admit that I probably have no business writing about grey, desiccated middle age and its myriad torments,” said James Marriott in The Times. In particular, menopause is an aspect of midlife I shall never experience personally. Yet neither my age nor sex prevented me from enjoying The Shift, a terrific podcast about “women, the menopause and life after 40” by journalist and author Sam Baker. One recent standout episode featured the Channel 4 foreign correspondent Lindsey Hilsum, who “sounds like a total blast”. Hilsum recalls living in Mexico City, and carrying around a rolled-up newspaper for the purpose of biffing anyone who sexually harassed her. “I was just whacking people left, right and centre,” she says. And she talks interestingly about her experience of menopause while working as a war correspondent. Once, while filming in Gaza, she was suddenly overwhelmed by a wave of intense despair. But she “stepped around the back of the building for a few moments, collected herself, then soldiered on”.

True crime “yarns” are a podcasting staple, said Hannah Verdier in The Guardian. But what’s really fascinating is finding out what goes on in the minds of serious criminals. For their new podcast Letters From A Killer, Zoe Hines and Ned Parker established relationships of trust with lifers and death row prisoners via a written correspondence. The series draws on the killers’ own words to explore their crimes and motives. The first episode features bank robber Jose Sandoval, who “claims he wanted to kill as few people as possible but still get the job done”. Given that he and his accomplices murdered five people in their botched 2002 raid, it’s “tough to listen to his inventive confessions (‘I knew God had my back’) as he paints himself as a man of mercy – but it’s certainly gripping”.

Football fans are well served by podcasts, said The Daily TelegraphThat Peter Crouch Podcast and Quickly Kevin; will he score? (with comedian Josh Widdicombe and friends) offer banter and anecdotes from ex-pros and other guests. For cricket-lovers, an equivalent treat is Tailenders, in which the “oddball trio” of fast-bowling titan Jimmy Anderson, DJ Greg James and indie guitarist Felix White of The Maccabees “indulge their love of cricket and all its quirks”. It is “joyous, silly and welcoming even to cricket novices”. Or try The Grade Cricketer, a “witty and very Australian take” on the game presented by “three average cricketers who never quite made it”. There are plenty of big-name guests, but the “soul of the podcast is in the grassroots”. This might be made by Aussies, but it’s “one for village cricketers everywhere”.

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