How do you spend your commute? Wedged into someone’s armpit trying to read a double folded copy of the Metro? Or are you one of the growing number of us plugged into a decent podcast, blocking out the horrors of the Northern Line with gripping storylines. Here’s what we’ve been listening to right now.
The Mystery Show
Within ten seconds I’d fallen in love with Starlee Kine’s voice, within twenty I was utterly obsessed with The Mystery Show. There are just six precious episodes of The Mystery Show, each around 50 minutes long, and packed with a perfect mix of intrigue, charm and whimsy. Kine, who you may have heard if you’re a regular This American Life listener, sets herself a mystery to unravel in each episode. In ‘Belt Buckle’, for instance, she attempts to track down the owner of an exquisite belt buckle a friend found in the street decades earlier. She always solves the mystery, but it’s the journey Kine takes you on that you’ll treasure most. I can’t recommend this podcast more!
We all know the Nixon story, after all the classic Robert Redford/Dustin Hoffman film All The President’s Men is pretty much all you need to know. Right? No, not even close. Slow Burn takes you through the twists and turns of Watergate, a scandal that started slowly unravelling four years before Nixon finally resigned. Over eight episodes Leon Neyfakh takes you through the four year story arc as Nixon’s White House begins to implode in slow motion and posits the question ‘if we were living through Watergate, would we know it?’ It’s almost impossible to listen to this gripping podcast without constantly glancing to the current inhabitant of the White House, and wondering…
You always remember your first; mine was an 12-hour car journey from the South of France, it’s a long slog that I do a few times a year and requires numerous nap breaks, energy drinks and copious amounts of Milka bar. Or Serial. I don’t know what happened to the time, but this podcast had me utterly transfixed for the entire trip and on arriving home rather than jumping into the shower and bed, I sat in the car for a further half hour to listen to the end of the final episode. True Crime series Serial follows a journalist’s investigation into a 1999 murder and in reviewing the evidence uncovers a slew of inconsistencies, confusion and mystery. It’s utterly gripping and you’re one of the few podcast afficionardos who hasn’t, then need to listen to this. It’s also the perfect length if you’re planning a trip to The Luberon.
Hosted by a random Aussie guy in his spare room (his words), Casefile will quench your thirst and fuel your fascination for grizzly, true crime stories. Having quietly appeared at the start of 2016, at the time of writing there have now been seventy episodes, each one delving into a horrific crime. It’s gritty listening but it’s not sensationalised, if you’re going to listen to one then check out episode 15 ‘The Weepy Voice Killer’ it’ll have you spooked.
My Dad Wrote a Porno
Forget Anna Steele, she’s got nothing on Belinda Blumenthal, the sex-crazed sales manager of Steeles Pots and Pans, created by Rocky Flintstone. Rather than shy away from his dad describing a woman’s nipples ‘as large as the three-inch rivets which had held the hull of the fateful Titanic together’ host Jamie Morton fully embraces his dad’s accidentally comic sex descriptions with the help of his friends Alice Levine and James Cooper. However bad your day ends up being, at least you can smirk your way through your commute, as you hear about vaginal lids and boobs like pomegranates. It’s not erotic but it is hilarious.
Whilst most Londoners would rather say goodbye to Uber and talk to others on the tube instead of re-read their teenage diaries, our American friends are all for reliving their most cringey teenage moments. Not only that but they have no qualms letting everyone else hear them as they share the shame and the hilarity of those awkward, gawky years we all struggle through. You’ll be as embarrassed as if it had happened to you.
Replace you innate passive aggressive commuter nature with knowledge. Sounds so dramatic. What we actually mean is listen to the History Extra podcast, the podcast from the BBC History magazine. Twice a week they’ll interview historians and authors talking about everything from the history of drunkenness to crusading knights and Victorian medicine. Rather than being dense, each episode is accessible and will leave you a little more enlightened.
The High Low
Back in the 80s, Vanity Fairy editor, Tina Brown coined the phrase ‘high low journalism’ meaning those things you gossip about in the office (in terms of The Handbook the Kardashians) and those more hard-hitting cultural happenings (sometimes the Kardashians too). The High Low podcast is a witty weekly pop-culture and news podcast by Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes, they discuss everything from the feuds between the SATC cast to the new Minister for Loneliness.