Picks of the week
An intriguing cross between a haunted house tale and an episode of The Archers, Audible’s latest audio drama stars Doctor Who’s Pearl Mackie and Coronation Street’s Lucy Fallon as city escapers starting a new life in the country. As well as attracting negative attention as a mixed-race, lesbian couple, they must put up with paranormal activity. Written and directed by Laura Kirwan-Ashman and based on a story by Naomi Booth, this is an immersive exploration of trauma. Hannah J Davies
Life’s A Beach (available from 1 Feb)
Alan Carr is a proper ray of cackling sunshine as he talks to celebrities about travel on his new podcast. Like the cheeky Judith Chalmers of lockdown, Carr kicks off with a chat to Romesh Ranganathan, who used to work at airport browsing staple Sunglass Hut. This is no random ramble with mates, though: as Ranganathan spills sgreat stories about his trips to Ethiopia, Sri Lanka and Center Parcs the time flies by. Coming up are Rufus Wainwright, Robbie Williams and expert in self-deprecating humour, James Blunt.
Producer pick: 10 Things That Scare Me
Chosen by Madeleine Finlay
What scares you? Spiders? Climate change? Getting too close to the edge of a cliff and accidentally falling off? This question provides the premise of this podcast from WNYC Studios, where someone lists – you guessed it – ten of their fears. It might sound trite, but listening to peoples’ anxieties, it turns out, gives a fascinating insight into the human psyche. Seemingly all of us are scared of a range of serious and silly things. In fact, pushing the big and small together is one of the things that makes the podcast so enjoyable (and reassuring during a time when it feels like there’s a lot to be scared of).
Another of its strengths is that the episodes are bite-size, around five to 10 minutes each in total. It means some fears are given no more than a few seconds to hang in the air before the guest moves on. The format works so well because it shows you something about them without telling you. Each fear reveals a small – often deeply personal – slice of someone’s personality and life.
There’s a good back catalogue to get through. so you can get to know comedian and heart surgeon Bassem Youssef, author Marlon James, and – bizarrely – former White House Director of Communications Anthony Scaramucci. But personally I like the listener’s entries the most, which are the most honest and surprising.
Keegan-Michael Key of Key and Peele fame brings some depth to light relief with his newly-released podcast, The History of Sketch Comedy. From Monty Python to SNL and Eddie Murphy, the 10-part series considers the evolution of the artform, and how it inspired Key’s own comic creations.