Best podcasts of the week: Paris Lees unpicks our polar opposite opinions

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Picks of the week

The Flipside
This new series sees Paris Lees explore opposing opinions on identity, happiness and habits. From learning a new language to the power of forgiveness, Lees has a knack for drawing out thought-provoking views from all sides. The episode on sex is frank and illuminating, examining the evolution of hook-up culture, the rules of threesomes and the surprising things that celibate women and swingers have in common. Hannah Verdier

Fat Leonard
“I had the Navy by their balls ...” In 2015, businessman Leonard Francis pleaded guilty to his part in one of the largest national security breaches involving the US Navy. This nine-part podcast explores the ongoing investigation into a scandalous story of cash bribes and escorts. With nothing left to lose, “Fat Leonard” spares no details as he speaks out for the first time to host Tom Wright. Hollie Richardson

British Scandal: The Canoe Con
Alice Levine and Matt Forde’s podcast moves to Seaton Carew to tell the tale of John Darwin, the “canoe man” who faked his own death for five years, while his complicit wife Anne played the part of grieving widow. Although the pair offer little in the way of new facts, the lightly mocking way they pick at the details of the story – with its “kissing cupboard” and Darwin’s lack of a decent anorak – is always entertaining. HV

Coiled
“Can I touch it?” ... “I can’t believe you still relax your hair” … “How do you change it so much?” So begins Leanne Alie’s exploration of black hair, in particular in the UK, from its rich history to the resurgence of natural styles. Fascinating and totally brilliant. Hannah J Davies

We Were Always Here
“This isn’t the definitive history, but it’s our history, moments from our lives that defined the epidemic for us”. So says Marc Thompson, the influential black sexual health activist and programme director, who helms this new podcast shedding light on largely untold stories from the UK’s HIV crisis. Powerful stuff. HJD

Producer pick: My Therapist Ghosted Me

Chosen by Danielle Stephens

Sometimes I just need an easy listen that will no doubt make me laugh. The problem is, I’m normally not a big fan of “chat podcasts” – the type where two reasonably famous people talk about anything they feel like. I prefer a structured narrative, where I take out the headphones and feel I’ve learned something.

My Therapist Ghosted Me has changed my mind for the better. I initially listened on a friend’s recommendation. We both love the comedian Joanne McNally, who really is one of the best Irish comics, simply because she can have an audience in tears of laughter and feeling wildly uncomfortable at the same time. In this podcast, she talks to her pal, the TV presenter and former model Vogue Williams. The pair run through their weeks, giving each other advice and bringing in funny news items that they can dissect.

Maybe I’m biased by the fact that, like me, they’re Irish, but their rapport is brilliant. Most of us have a friend that has a completely different personality to us, but due only to the longevity of the friendship you can talk about anything. My Therapist Ghosted Me is essentially that. Two pals, two microphones, and a poor producer called Joe who has to tie it all together. A really fun listen.

Talking points

  • The podcast Bald Talk recently returned for a second series, featuring – you guessed it – conversations between guests with no hair, and US comics Brian Huskey and Charlie Sanders, who are also bald. Say the makers, this isn’t “just for the hairless because everyone has that insecurity, hang-up or self-image issue that is their personal ‘bald spot’”. Indeed, despite having hair, Weird Al Yankovic recently featured on the show.

  • Why not try: Songs in the Key of Laugh | Brian & Roger | Queen of the Con: The Irish Heiress

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