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Recommendation Engine

Recommendation Engine: The Week in Podcast Reviews

Musicals, murderers and millionaires all feature in this week's round up.

9:00 AM GMT+1 on September 13, 2023

    Welcome to this week’s Recommendation Engine from Podcast Rex, rounding up the week in podcast reviews. Get this in an email each week by signing up to be a supporter of Podcast Rex from £3.99.

    Fiona Sturges in the FT

    • Sharing Plate - “It’s a tried-and-tested format that can be found in chart-topping shows such as Comfort Eating with Grace Dent and Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster. The difference here is that the guests are chosen not because they are famous but because they are refugees.”

    Miranda Sawyer in the Observer

    • Strike Force Five - “Due to the writers’ and actors’ strikes in the US, the Strike Force Five are not busy at all. And also due to the strike, the people employed on their late-night shows – writers, researchers, bookers – aren’t earning any money. The Strike Force Five podcast exists to raise money for those people, which is a good thing. Whether it’s a good podcast is another matter.”
    • British Scandal - “You may well know the subject matter – the Profumo affair, the Sex Pistols, the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire coughing major – but that’s not the point. It’s the telling of the story that makes this show: the silly, overwrought, unsubstantiated details, the delivery, the tone.”

    The Guardian’s Hear Here column recommends

    Also in Hear Here, Lauren O’Neill choses five of the best podcasts about musicals

    • Anthem: Homunculus - “If there’s anyone you can trust to come up with a musical for people who aren’t really that into musicals, it’s John Cameron Mitchell.”
    • In Strange Woods - “A haunting podcast musical with a score that skews towards folk-pop, and a hooky premise.”
    • 36 Questions - “This disarmingly moving show, which incorporates audio-specific techniques like sound collaging, deserves the accolade.”
    • Off Book - “The word “improv” is basically theatrical and comic Marmite. For some it’s a full body cringe-fest, and for others it’s catnip. If you’re part of the latter crowd, you might enjoy Off Book.”
    • Loveville High - “For some, musicals get grating after a while. Should you fit this bill, you might enjoy Loveville High, a pod-musical with bite-size, ten minute long episodes.”

    Also mentioned: Reworlding, Adelita: Changing the Key, and Wellness with Ella.

    Radio Times reviews

    • Newscast Weekend - “It will appeal to the people who follow the weekday edition, presumably never miss a Sunday-morning interview with a minister and love little more than feeling they were there when somebody was caught saying something they shouldn’t.”
    • Southern Gothic - “More historical than supernatural.”
    • Blowback - “A high calibre podcast on America’s flawed foreign policy.”
    • If This Food Could Talk - “It’s too soon to say just how digestible this series will turn out to be.”
    • Really? No, Really? - “The hosts’ bonhomie and Alexander’s star status allow for levity with guests amid the jovial cynicism.

    Scott Bryan in Great British Podcasts

    • Agatha Christie & The Dandelion Poisoner - “This new Audible series looks at how a real life poisoning more than a century ago inspired Agatha Christie’s own work”
    • Lessons in Dyslexic Thinking - This new podcast taps into the strengths that many dyslexic people have, featuring interviews with those who have credited dyslexia for their success in their career or creative lives”
    • The Imposter Club - “This new series hosted by Kimberly Godbolt explores why so many people think of themselves as being imposters, featuring interviews with people who have made it work despite having this anxiety.”
    • The Girlfriends - “A compelling new true crime series; about a set of friends who work closely together to bring down a murderous ex-boyfriend.”

    In PodPod’s Earworms column:

    • Justin Crosby, TellyCast: Amazing War Stories - “A brilliantly produced piece of work.”
    • Roger Gowdy, Castmastery: Call Jonathan Pie - “Added context and characters that cleverly flesh out the comic character.”
    • Alexandra Cohl, POD.DRALAND: Sandcastles - “You quickly feel invested in the people and the story.”
    • Alice Greedus, Happiful: The Unfiltered Bride - “Some really helpful advice to cover the more difficult aspects of planning a wedding.”
    • Giulia Ciccolella, Mags Creative: Tape Notes - “If you’re into music, I’d highly recommend.”

    In “Freshly Dropped” they mention Human Resources, When It Hits The Fan, Deep Roots, The Mid•Point, and Outrage and Optimism.

    Henrietta McKervey in the Irish Independent

    • Spellcaster: The Fall of Sam Bankman-Fried - “The level of access they get elevates this show into something more than just another story about an alleged conman told from the sidelines. Bankman-Fried kept a tight inner-circle, so on the basis that ‘the company that Sam kept can tell us a lot about the person at the centre of this story,’ they interview members of his family, friends and former colleagues.”
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