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Recommendation Engine

Recommendation Engine: Will Smith, Take That & George the Poet

This week's reviewers mull over more musicians.

10:00 AM GMT+1 on October 25, 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

    • A Race Around the World - “Rather than a regular narrative documentary, the podcast has a novelistic feel, containing dramatised excerpts from the writers’ reports amid a broader narrative filled with the imagined thoughts and fears of the two women… The effect is vivacious and propulsive storytelling that gets a little hammy in the dramatised parts but is nonetheless gripping.”

    Fiona McCann in the Irish Times

    • Unsettled - “I wasn’t looking for a big media round-up or a think-tank hot take; I wanted a podcast that engages directly with those in disputed territories, whose families have lived this conflict for generations… These are the kinds of conversations we need to listen to but cannot hear over the sound of violence.”

    Miranda Sawyer in the Observer

    • The Lovecraft Investigations - “Loosely based on the stories of HP Lovecraft, but brought bang up to date by writer-director Julian Simpson (our heroes are podcasters and we are told the stories through hearing their show), these are gripping listens.”
    • Stirring It Up with Andi and Miquita Oliver - “This is far from the usual interview show. It’s a full-on night in, with producer Tayo Popoola clearly working with, and in, the moment.”
    • Keys to the Kingdom - “It’s all presented as though it’s as light as a feather, as if that delight and joy comes naturally, as opposed to being meticulously prepared.”

    The Guardian’s Hear Here column recommends

    • Take That: This Life - “For their loyal fans, this free-flowing chat about jacket potatoes, giving up their day jobs and their multiple comebacks will be as lovable as Barlow’s songs.”
    • Class of ‘88 - “It’s part anecdote-packed autobiography of Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, part rap history featuring interviews with acts such as Queen Latifah.”
    • Exposed: Cover-Up at Columbia University - “Hearing how vulnerable women were treated so appallingly after putting trust in their gynaecologist is enough to induce anger, but the fact that Hadden was allowed to continue for so long is horrific.”
    • Ghost Story - “This wild series sees journalist Tristan Redman drawn into an investigation of his wife’s ancestors after it turns out that her great-grandmother may have haunted his childhood bedroom.”
    • Slayers: A Buffyverse Story - “Devotees who stanned the original series’ more underexposed characters will love this.”

    Also in Hear Here, Charlie Lindlar chooses five of the best spin-off podcasts

    • S-Town - “This series really gets going with an early plot twist, and continues to shock throughout its seven-episode run.”
    • Today, Explained to Kids - “Latter episodes on evergreen subjects such as veganism and fossil fuels provide timely, accessible listens.”
    • Killing the Skydancer - “Explores the unsolved and illegal killings of Britain’s birds of prey on hunting grounds.”
    • Leading - “Few podcasts have the pull to interview Tony Blair, Gerry Adams and George Osborne in back-to-back weeks.”
    • Articles of Interest - “This ingenious show will make you think again about the clothes you throw on daily, and what they say about you.”

    Also mentioned: The Social Dose, Thirty and a Bit, Let’s Talk Off Camera.

    And in the Guardian’s Guide newsletter:

    • Class of ‘88 - “Will Smith enlists luminaries such as Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa, Chuck D and Rakim to detail why that year was so special.”

    Radio Times reviews

    • Out to Lunch with Ade Edmondson - “Edmondson is a generous host, but his decision to write and perform his own signature tune is the kind of move that Sir Humphrey would have described as ‘most courageous’.”
    • Heavyweight - “Moments of self-discovery, reunion and redemption will leave you with a catch in your throat and optimism for the human condition.”
    • A Race Around the World - “Storyteller Adrien Behn - herself an intrepid solo traveller - is in her element.”
    • Were You Raised by Wolves? - “The amiable hosts would send a handwritten thank-you note to listeners if they could.”
    • Mistopian - “Getting to the bottom of the world’s most wildly inaccurate predictions.”
    • Have You Heard George’s Podcast? - “His gentle rhyming couplets belie the ferocity of his words.”
    • Vishal - “This ten-part series explores this ghastly tragedy and how poorly Vishal’s father was treated.”
    • About a Boy: the Story of Vladimir Putin - “This series explores the environment that shaped one of Russia’s most ruthless leaders.”
    • Uncomfortable Conversations - “A multilayered debate with the author David Loewenstein about the state of Israel deserves serious consideration.”

    Scott Bryan in Great British Podcasts

    • My Family, Mental Illness, and Me - “It explores this complicated topic with sensitivity, providing a sense of companionship and solidarity for any listeners who can relate to these stories.”
    • Shaun Keaveny’s Daily Grind - “It’s not edited to a radio show. It’s a wholly podcast product, with a well-known guest dropping by every Friday.”
    • Politics at Jack and Sam’s - “It primarily focuses on analysis and insider gossip on what is going on within the corridors of Westminster, rather than just opinion on whether what the politicians said or did was good or bad.”
    • No Worries If Not - “In this well-researched and informative opener, Lily O’Farrell looks at the history of the internet movement and its impact.”

    In PodPod’s Earworms column:

    • Chris Skinner, Sony Music Entertainment: Empire - “It's not a history show; It's a show where you come for the personalities, and then they talk about history.”
    • Zara Anita Paul, Choppity: Last Day - “Intimate stories of overdose, addiction and mental health.”
    • Jack Winter, Craft Media London: The Adam Buxton Podcast - “Buxton is a great podcaster.”
    • Rebecca Khan, Publicis Media: My Therapist Ghosted Me - “It’s bloody funny.”
    • David Smith, Super Great Kids’ Stories: Drifting Off with Joe Pera - “You’ll be giggling too much to be really sleepy!”

    In “Freshly Dropped” they mention Money Mondays, Keys to the Kingdom, Floodlight, After Dark, Sliding Doors.

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