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Recommendation Engine

Recommendation Engine: The Week in Podcast Reviews

DNA testing kits are under the microscope in this week's reviews.

9:00 AM GMT+1 on September 27, 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.

    Apple Podcasts New & Noteworthy:

    Spotify New & 🔥

    Fiona Sturges in the FT

    • The Gift - “A series that is essentially a true-crime anthology which is variously sad, gripping and brimming with plot twists.”

    Miranda Sawyer in the Observer

    • Beyond the Bathroom - “The warm and well-researched Hughes gently pushed her on details, and Brathwaite shone because of it. What a lovely, enlightening listen.”
    • Crypto Kingpins - “The telling of this tale is unsatisfying: the first episode whizzes through almost the entire story, skimming past details and summarising the plot without properly establishing the personalities involved.”

    The Guardian’s Hear Here column recommends

    • Hooked on Freddie - “It’s funny, tragic and gripping all at once.”
    • Sidetracked with Annie and Nick - “We’re promised a deep dive into their musical obsessions, guest artists and “access to the biggest events.”
    • Physical Capital - “Rebecca Achieng Ajulu-Bushell explores why people get in the water and how it makes them feel as well as looking at the myths around race and swimming.”
    • Adventures in Nutopia - “An absorbing, thought-provoking listen.”
    • The Reason We’re All Still Here - “Sure, a podcast about how to prevent global catastrophes hosted by a nuclear expert was never going to be a barrel of laughs. But Dr Jeffrey Lewis continues to make it engaging and light (enough).”

    Also in Hear Here, Charlie Lindlar chooses five of the best podcasts on history retold

    • Revisionist History - “This is a show which leaves few stones unturned.”
    • Bad Women: The Ripper Retold - “This feminist rethink of ‘the Ripper myth’ interrogates our visceral fascination with murder, eschews the mystique around the killer’s identity and instead profiles the lives lost to his crimes.”
    • Stuff the British Stole - “Illustrating the sheer scale of empire-era theft in gut-wrenching but accessible fashion, the third series began in June this year.”
    • History Becomes Her - “This series asks listeners to question why history so often underrates the roles women have played in building a better world.”
    • Cotton Capital - “This six-part series reveals the history of Manchester that isn’t taught in schools.”

    Also mentioned: What Could Go Right, Tell Me About It, Wellbeing Lab.

    And in the Guardian’s Guide newsletter:

    • What About Your Friends - “They break down their feelings on Sex and the City and the revamped relaunch And Just Like That, and I found their sentiments echoed my own.”

    Radio Times reviews

    • You Had Me at Hello - “Broadway star Taye Diggs brings that mellow American warmth but - unless you subscribe to ad-free content - his ‘word from our sponsor’ type promotions rankle.
    • Duchess - “The cut-glass diction of the latest season’s host, Caroline, Countess of Derby, may not be to everyone’s taste, but she has a fascinating story to tell of her husband’s ancestors.”
    • The Constant: a History of Getting Things Wrong - “A sincere, sometimes sardonic look at the accidents, mistakes and terrible ideas that have livened up history.”
    • Monsters of Music - “This is a delicious concept about classical composers with dreadful private lives.”
    • The Moon Under Water - “The good news is that new landlord Robbie Knox hasn’t gone for a total refurbishment.”
    • The Estate - “Political conspiracy, societal tension and all the usual hallmarks of a true crime series, but at its heart is [a] more intriguing question.”

    Scott Bryan in Great British Podcasts

    • Trendy - “In each episode they both explore the latest trends (hence the name of the podcast) but aim to take a longer view, explaining the long-term trends that show how the country is changing.”
    • Mother of All Solutions - “The podcast strives against perfectionism and unattainable lifestyles.”
    • Little Talk in Slow French - “This fantastic little podcast, fronted by actress Nagisa Morimoto, features her speaking at you conversations and dialogue spoken in French, so you can get the knack of how words sound and how sentences are formed.”
    • British Scandal: Liz Truss - “Despite the short length of her term there’s enough material.”

    In PodPod’s Earworms column:

    • Tom Davies, Proper Mental: Dead Eyes - “It’s hosted by Connor Ratliff who, in 2001, was fired from TV show Band of Brothers because Tom Hanks (who was directing) thought he had ‘dead eyes.’”
    • James Hacking, Socially Powerful: Under The Cosh - “An incredible football podcast that delves into the stories of players who weren't the big household names.”
    • Ellie Clifford, Persephonica: The Girlfriends - “I liked that it put women at the centre of the story more successfully than I've heard before.”
    • Paris Parmar, Attachment London: Deux U - “It has built an impressive community of followers who seek relevant celebrity intel.”
    • Ed Palmer, St. Luke’s: The Sun King - “This is jaw dropping listening about the man who ‘gave them what they want’, who inspired Logan Roy, and who fundamentally changed the media landscape.”

    In “Freshly Dropped” they mention In Retrospect, Call Her Daddy, Screaming Creativity, Snooker Club, and Am I Doing It Wrong?

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