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Recommendation Engine: What’s up with WhatsApp?

Helen Lewis looks at instant messaging

10:00 AM GMT+1 on April 24, 2024

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    Tristram Fane Saunders in the Telegraph

    • Helen Lewis Has Left the Chat - “An aimless, gossipy pilot that couldn’t settle on a tone, but it found its feet in its gripping second episode, a critique of ‘the WhatsAppification of politics.’”

    James Marriott in the Times

    • Helen Lewis Has Left the Chat - “Lewis’s thesis is that the speed, impersonality and blurred private/professional dynamic of WhatsApp groups is what makes them so reliably awful. Is a parents’ WhatsApp group the equivalent of a chat by the school gates or is it a more formal space? Is Slack (the office instant messaging service that was supposed to replace email) a gossip by the water cooler or is it an all-hands employee grievance meeting?.”

    Fiona Sturges in the FT

    • Split Screen: Kid Nation - “Josh Gwynn paints a grimly unsettling picture of naive parents, terrified children and ratings-hungry TV execs who are still trying to justify their decisions 17 years later.”
    • The Bachelor of Buckingham Palace - “TV journalist Scott Bryan is our host who has a good laugh at I Wanna Marry Harry’s myriad WTF moments — we listen in on him and his producer as they watch the series, which sounds tedious but is a hoot — while taking the deception at the heart of the show entirely seriously.”

    Miranda Sawyer in the Observer

    • Fragments: The London Nail Bombings - “All the subjects’ descriptions of what happened are so clear, so matter-of-fact, that at first I thought they hadn’t been badly affected. But later in the programme, both Cash and Taylor said that they’d suffered from PTSD.”
    • Amazing Sport Stories: Chasing Mountains - “During the 00s, various elite female climbers separately decided to try to complete climbing’s hardest feat: to conquer all 14 of the world’s tallest mountains. And our host is… some American woman, and then, suddenly, a well-spoken female English voice pops up.”
    • How Was it for You? - “Parris and Brigstocke are lovely people to spend time with."

    Patricia Nicol & Clair Woodward in the Sunday Times

    • Miss Me? - “I felt vexed that these nepo-babies had been given a licence-fee-funded platform for their catch-up. Five weeks and ten episodes in, I have mellowed considerably to Allen and Oliver. That initial spikiness now seems defensive; with an established audience and questions to riff off, the show has become warm and self-deprecatingly funny.”
    • The Price of Paradise - “Alice Levine tells the jaw-dropping true story of a deadly land battle in Nicaragua with two women at its centre.”
    • Cold Tapes - “An audio murder mystery in which there’s a £10,000 prize for the person who solves the case.”
    • The Apple & The Tree - “Just when you thought there were too many parenting podcasts comes this twist on the genre.”
    • Soul Boom - “Exploring creativity and spirituality, aiming to ‘tickle your heart, mind and soul.’”

    The Guardian’s Hear Here column recommends

    • The Price of Paradise - “A tale of a family who left their comfortable English life behind, but soon became embroiled in controversy, corruption and kidnap.”
    • Deep Cover: The Nameless Man - “Jake Halpern’s painstakingly researched fourth season follows two federal agents who investigate a rumour that a teenager bragged about killing a Black man to get into a white supremacy group.”
    • Lessons in Dyslexic Thinking - “Grit, determination, heightened spatial awareness: all qualities that Muhammad Ali possessed, and which host Kate Griggs identifies as forms of dyslexic thinking.”
    • The Apple & the Tree - “Narrator Vogue Williams brings parents and children together for heart-to-hearts in this warm and intimate podcast.”
    • Cold Tapes - “A cold case about the murder of a behavioural scientist on a remote base in the Antarctic midwinter is the setting for this innovative murder mystery game.”

    And in the Guardian’s Guide newsletter

    • Split Screen: Kid Nation - “This new series recalls Kid Nation, the Lord of the Flies-inspired reality show that dumped 40 children into a US desert town and asked them to create their own society.”

    Highlights from the Radio Times

    • Queen of the Con - “American TV producer Jonathan Walton describes how he was scammed out of a small fortune by a former friend who had claimed to be a member of the Irish royal family.”
    • Michael Spicer: No Room - “Expect angry observations on modern life.”
    • One Life for Another - “True crime doesn’t get more bizarre than this tale from Mexico.”
    • Without - “Omar El Akkad delivers potent food for thought as he contemplates not only the things we could probably do without, but also those we can ill-afford to lose.”

    Heat’s Top of the Pods

    Scott Bryan in Great British Podcasts

    • The Curious History of Your Home - “If you think that a podcast looking at the history of wallpaper, the household fridge and dishwashers wouldn’t be a totally engrossing listen, you would be wrong.”
    • The Apple & The Tree - “Hones in on the conversations that we don’t have with our closed loved ones.”
    • The Butterfly King - “A series exploring the strange death of King Boris III of Bulgaria.”
    • How Was it for You? - “The chemistry between them is great.”
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