Best podcasts of the week: the Serial team tackle Islamophobia in Birmingham

S-Town’s Brian Reed unpicks The Trojan Horse Affair, which saw Midlands schools accused of Islamic extremism. Plus: Shaun Keaveny speaks with pals such as Vic Reeves and Nina Conti in his warming, nostalgic series

Picks of the week

The Trojan Horse Affair
This Serial-backed podcast tackles the scandal that saw Birmingham schools accused of an Islamist plot. Given the affair stemmed from authorities being sent an amateurish-looking letter that was supposedly correspondence between Muslims plotting to take control of schools, it asks: who wrote it? The storytelling is as hooky as you’d expect, given it was part created by S-Town’s Brian Reed. Alexi Duggins

In Touch With Ruby Rare
Sex podcasts can all too often edge towards giggly chats masquerading as insight. That’s not the case with this informed documentary series from sex educator Ruby Rare, which manages to feel light and fun despite bringing a considered critical eye to topics including kink, nudity and Britain’s problem with offering good sex education. AD

Shaun Keaveny’s Creative Cul-De-Sac
The trademark Keaveny warmth is in full flow in his new podcast about those ideas that may be better left in an abandoned notebook. He has a cracking lineup picking out their forgotten creative gems, including Vic Reeves, Nina Conti and Tim Key, plus there’s a look at his own ideas that didn’t make the cut. Hannah Verdier

And Just Like That … The Writers Room
“Do you know how hard it is to create a water-cooler moment when no one is even in the office?” Little did writer and director Michael Patrick King know how much debate his Sex and the City sequel would create. In this series, he speaks to co-writers on the show about the divisive decisions they made. Hollie Richardson

Chameleon: Wild Boys
Journalist Sam Mullins remembers the moment he heard about two emaciated, nigh-on feral “bush boys” who landed in his small Canadian home town of Vernon. “When the boys admitted that they weren’t as ‘bush’ as they originally let on, the media attention fell off a cliff,” he says, unreeling a yarn that becomes more bizarre with every instalment. HV

Producer pick: The Socially Distant Sports Bar

Chosen by Joel Grove

Listeners of the Guardian’s very own Football Weekly podcast will be familiar with the dulcet tones of regular contributor and Gareth Bale enthusiast Elis James. However, Football Weekly only accounts for around a mere 2% of Elis’ prolific podcast output. The best of which (to my mind) is The Socially Distant Sports Bar.

Initially launched in the first lockdown, Sports Bar is now approaching it’s 100th episode. The premise is straightforward enough: James and fellow comedian Mike Bubbins, along with presenter and ship steadier Stephen Garrerro, each come armed with two clips linked to sport, ranging from the diets of Britain’s strongmen to Kaká turning out for a five-a-side team.

When it comes to episode duration the prevailing wisdom in podcasting is that there is some sort of mythical sweet spot somewhere between 40-50 minutes, but this show laughs in the face of convention. While a two hour 30 minute runtime might be daunting for a first-time listener, it somehow never outstays its welcome.

A recent tangent about the Gold Blend Nescafe adverts had me doubled over on the train home – it’s in these moments that Sports Bar is at its very best. Come for the sport, stay for the anecdote about gifting a camping stove to an optician.

Talking points

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