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Five Minutes With

Five Minutes With… Pandora Sykes from The Missing

Celebrated podcast series The Missing is back for a fifth season, and we were fortunate enough to grab a few moments with its host, Pandora Sykes.

1:13 PM GMT+1 on June 28, 2023

    Each episode of The Missing (listen now), focuses on a different missing person - and over the past 43 episodes they have provided a space for close relatives and friends to vividly bring cases to life.

    We sat down with presenter Pandora Sykes to find out why we should tune in...

    What can listeners expect from this new series of The Missing?

    More immersive, powerful storytelling. We've made a concerted effort with every series to make every story itself - each person was their own unique being and so the stories should and I think do, reflect that.

    Why has the series returned?

    Because it's good storytelling that serves a larger ethical purpose. 'True crime' isn't always salacious. The purpose of The Missing, in collaboration with two brilliant charities, Locate International and Missing People, is to help these families, through whom we tell the stories of missing loved ones, to get closure.

    Are there particular cases which stick in your mind from this season?

    Any story where a child disappears is devastating. Kevin Hicks was 16 when he left his house to buy some eggs from the corner shop, a literal stone's throw from his house - but he never came home. Growing up in the shadow of this grief was so hard for his sister Alex.

    The Nicola Bulley case shone a light on missing persons cases and there was some criticism of the ‘armchair sleuths’. Isn’t that what this series encourages?

    I think we under-estimate the power of citizen journalism - look at what happened in Don't F*ck With Cats. I think 'armchair sleuths' is bit of a dismissive term - it's true that sometimes people can get in the way (when, say, they turn up at the scene of a crime or inundate the police with irrelevant information), but they're also essential to the solving of so many crimes. The Missing depends on tips from the public. Very often, sadly, tips do not turn into viable leads - but Locate International are on hand to deem which ones are useful and which ones are not.

    Why have these cases mostly faded from the media?

    Because it's a 24/7 rolling news cycle - now more than ever. The stories that stick in the mind are most often white, middle-class, attractive people who have gone missing, which means many of the long-term missing cases never reach the papers at all. Especially if those who have gone missing struggled with substance abuse or debt.

    Around 170,000 people are reported missing every year in the UK. That's one disappearance every 90 seconds. It would be unrealistic for the public, and the media, to remember all of them. But we're trying to re-energise as many as possible with this podcast. Apart from anything else, it's a chance for these families to pay homage to their missing loved one and to tell their story in their own words. That, more than anything, was really important to us.

    The Missing is available every Monday Follow the show now to get more!

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