Fnew things are a surer sign of a podcast’s brilliance than its ability to surprise you. From one-on-one interviews to true-crime tales, a cracking revelation is pretty much the secret ingredient of top-tier podding.
So you’re probably going to enjoy this week’s newsletter, which is packed full of recommendations for “say what?” moments. Did you know that Line of Duty’s Martin Compston and ex-editor of the Scottish Sun Gordon Smart are such besties that they plan to start a festival together? Then you need Restless Natives. Want to learn about the author who faked their own cancer diagnosis to boost sales? Check out literary scandal-based pod Missing Pages. Add in Transfer: The Emiliano Sala Story – a look at the titular footballer who died in a plane crash on his way to complete a move to Cardiff City – and you have a trifecta of little-known truths.
Be warned, though: this show’s tragic revelation – that Sala boarded despite being worried about the safety of the plane – might be compelling, but that doesn’t make it easy to listen to.
Deputy TV editor
picks of the week
Widely available, episodes weekly
After 15 years of friendship, Line of Duty’s Martin Compston and broadcaster Gordon Smart have got big plans together: a whiskey, a festival, a film. First up, it’s this rambling podcast, in which the pals chat about, well, pretty much everything from thoughts on becoming an envious “hairline pervert” in middle age to wild anecdotes on filming the day after partying and breaking chairs with Kasabian on a bus at T in the Park. Holly Richardson
Widely available, from Monday
Literary insider Bethanne Patrick reinforces the lesson of never judging a book for its cover by untangling some of the publishing industry’s biggest scandals. She starts with the story of bestselling author Dan Mallory, who was accused of lying about his cancer diagnosis. HR
The End Up
Widely available, from Monday
John Reynolds (Stranger Things) stars as a cancer patient who wants assisted suicide in this drama set in a near future where that involves attending a weekend-long bootcamp. He’s joined by Himesh Patel (Yesterday) and Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie) in a slick, compelling series executive-produced by Mr Robot’s Sam Esmail. Alexi Duggins
My Moment in History: Expelled from Uganda
BBC Sounds, episodes weekly
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Chandni Mistry are among those who talk about how their families were forced to flee when Idi Amin expelled Asians from Uganda in 1972. Rupal Rajani’s podcast shows that hostility towards refugees from some quarters of the UK is nothing new, but it’s inspiring to discover how people rebuilt their lives. Hannah Verdier
Transfer: The Emiliano Sala Story
BBC Sounds, episodes weekly
Kayley Thomas investigates what happened to the plane that failed to take Emiliano Sala across the Channel to his new club, Cardiff City. There’s an underlying sadness as Sala knew the aircraft did n’t look safe, while the story is told by his final WhatsApp messages from him, sports reporters and members of the search party. HV
There’s a podcast for that
This week, Francesca Hughes chooses five of the best podcasts on childhood memoriesfrom shows that revisit awkward diary entries to stories of sibling rivalry
Now in its third season, this podcast sees guests discuss their childhood and teen crushes with host Rebecca Bulnes. She interviews everyone from close friends to famously funny people such as comedian Miel Bredouw and Rick and Morty writer Caitie Delaney. In an early episode she even interviews her own high-school crush on her, which makes for a very entertaining, if cringeworthy, audio experience. Listening to this podcast recalls the intense rush of your schooldays, but be warned – it probably won’t help you feel better about your awkward teen behaviour.
It’s All Relative
Historian Eliza Filby interviews two notable members of the same family about the generational differences between them. The parent and child episodes are particularly fascinating, as the two parties tend to recall their family time differently, often revealing their contrasting experiences of childhood. Previous pairs have included the former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and his son Nile, and Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes and his journalist Niece, Jessica, who talk about their shared passion for writing.
My Time Capsule
Perfect for fans of Desert Island Discs, this pod has famous guests who reflect on what from their life they would put into a treasured time capsule and what they wish they could banish, from a film they’ve seen to a trip or specific memory. Interviewed by actor Michael Fenton-Stevens, guests have included Stephen Fry, Sanjeev Bhaskar and Gail Porter. It’s the banishing segment that proves most revealing, offering up painful emotional scars and deep regrets. As well as being entertaining, it can also be quite moving, provoking both laughter and tears.
Get ready to squirm as guests reflect on embarrassing things they made, did or wrote in their childhood that they are now mortified about in this Radiotopia podcast. From school notes to first kisses, these angst‑ridden memories will give you some serious secondhand embarrassment as you reflect on your own adolescence. “Confessions of a Duran Duran fan” is a highlight, as it dwells on the obsessive infatuation of being a fangirl (or fanboy). Mortified’s point of difference is that most of the guests are not celebrities but mere fans of the show who are willing to mine the cringiest moments from their teenage years.
Famous siblings reflect on their childhoods together, interviewed by BBC Radio 4’s Catherine Carr. Each episode illustrates the unique nature of sibling relationships and how they evolve naturally over time, outside the confines of the childhood home. The episode with University Challenge contestant Bobby Seagull and his artist brother Davey Jose details the benefits of supportive siblings who encourage self-belief as well as perseverance, while the interview with second world war codebreakers Jean and Pat Owtram, now in their 90s, highlights how sibling bonds can change over the course of your life.
Why not try…
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism