Best podcasts of the week: How one woman’s private paradise turned into her own personal hell

<span>What happens when you ‘buy a cheap island’ off Nicaragua and invite a camera crew? Alice Levine investigates.</span><span>Photograph: Georgios Tsichlis/Alamy</span>
What happens when you ‘buy a cheap island’ off Nicaragua and invite a camera crew? Alice Levine investigates.Photograph: Georgios Tsichlis/Alamy

Picks of the week

The Price of Paradise
Widely available, episodes weekly
The tale of Jayne Gaskin, who bought a private island off Nicaragua for a bargain price, is irresistible. In 2002, the ex-Playboy Bunny was the unexpected star of Channel 4 reality TV show No Going Back, but Alice Levine brings the saga to a new audience in all its disastrous glory. It’s a tale of a family who left their comfortable English life behind, but soon became embroiled in controversy, corruption and kidnap. Hannah Verdier

Deep Cover: The Nameless Man
Widely available, episodes weekly from Monday
“We’ve got a confession, but we’ve got no body.” 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. But who was the man – and can Halpern solve the murder backwards? HV

Lessons in Dyslexic Thinking
Widely available, episodes weekly
Grit, determination, heightened spatial awareness: all qualities that Muhammad Ali (pictured above) possessed, and which host Kate Griggs identifies as forms of dyslexic thinking. In her fascinating podcast, she talks to his wife Lonnie about the skills that made him a champion. Other inspiring guests include wildlife presenter Hamza Yassin and author Liz Pichon. HV

The Apple & the Tree
Widely available, episodes weekly
Narrator Vogue Williams brings parents and children together for heart-to-hearts in this warm and intimate podcast. First up is Sam, who has a sweet and understanding conversation about growing up gay in the Indian community with his brilliant dad Lak. From coming out while watching The X Factor to his father’s gay friends, it’s a beautiful chat. HV

Cold Tapes: Winter Over
Widely available, episodes weekly
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. You must try to solve the killing via a cache of files, including audio diaries and police interviews – and if you crack the case, you could win a cash prize of £10,000. HV

There’s a podcast for that

This week, Graeme Virtue chooses five of the best podcasts on bad movies, from the chaotic How Did This Get Made? to TCM’s slickly produced The Plot Thickens: The Devil’s Candy.

How Did This Get Made?
One way to squeeze entertainment value out of a terrible film is to listen to smart people make fun of it. For more than 300 episodes, hosts Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas have taken a wrecking ball to sub-par movies. As working actors in film and TV, they bring insider knowledge, unexpected empathy and volcanic outrage to live shows that thrum with infectious energy. Recent instalments have dished out some punishment to the 50 Shades franchise while future episodes will tackle daft action flicks The Beekeeper and Shark Attack 3: Megalodon, as featured on their recent UK tour.

Ripping bad movies to shreds can be a guilty pleasure but the Norwich-based Sequelisers – currently in its 13th season – takes a more constructive approach. Jack Chambers-Ward, Matthew Stogdon and Tim Maytom zero in on disappointing sequels, diagnose what went wrong and then pitch an alternative version. The raucous tone has strong mates-in-the-pub energy, with episodes routinely clocking in at more than two hours. But the knowledgable hosts attack their task with gusto, and the emphasis on brainstorming creative fixes – would the third Crocodile Dundee work better as an animated film? – keeps things fresh.

Free With Ads
If jumping on to a movie podcast that has already banked hundreds of episodes feels intimidating, the recently launched Free With Ads is an opportunity to get in at the ground floor. US comedy writers Emily Fleming and Jordan Morris trawl the mushrooming world of free streaming services – the ones where unskippable ads randomly interrupt the viewing experience – in search of kitsch or trashy films to roast. So far the fast-talking duo have demonstrated a knack for exploring unexpected tangents while simultaneously taking potshots at gaudy flicks such as Jean-Claude Van Damme’s Timecop and the woeful Dungeons and Dragons movie from 2000.

The Plot Thickens: The Devil’s Candy
This slickly produced podcast from Turner Classic Movies has a different focus each season, most recently celebrating blaxploitation queen Pam Grier. But season two dissects a notorious cinema bomb, drawing from The Devil’s Candy, film critic Julie Salamon’s 1992 book about the making of 1990 flop The Bonfire of the Vanities. Salamon was invited by director Brian De Palma to embed with all aspects of the ambitious production, from the casting process to the editing booth. Her wry, reflective narration and vintage taped interviews with talent such as Tom Hanks, Melanie Griffith, Bruce Willis and author Tom Wolfe add invaluable texture to a dizzying tale of Hollywood hubris.

Exploding Helicopter
Not every movie that features an exploding helicopter is bad. But if you compiled a list of films in which a whirlybird erupts into a fireball, the results would be more shlock and awe than Palme d’Or. In his ongoing online project, London-based movie fan Will Slater has catalogued more than 800 films where a chopper gets barbecued, from The Lego Movie to American Ninja 4: The Annihilation. His monthly podcast spin-off sees Slater and a guest sympathetically assessing a movie’s merits – or lack thereof – before zooming in on its crucial scene of aerial conflagration. Despite the rather daft premise, the results tend to be relatively short and surprisingly sweet.

Why not try …

  • Narrated by Salvador-American journalist Daniel Alvarenga, HUMO: Murder and Silence in El Salvador explores the violence and corruption that have long plagued the country.

  • As the TV series approaches its end, the official Shogun podcast is worth a listen, hosted by a staff writer on the show, Emily Yoshida, as she chats to the creators and stars.

  • Pop Culture Moms, in which bestselling author Andie Mitchell and TV producer Sabrina Kohlberg talk to celebrities about balancing fame and motherhood, and remember the fictional mothers that inspire them.

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