The week in audio: Fragments – The London Nail Bombings; Chasing Mountains; Thanks a Lot, Milton Jones!; How Was It for You? – review

<span>Compton Street in Soho after the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in 1999.</span><span>Photograph: Stig Kolstad/PA</span>
Compton Street in Soho after the bombing of the Admiral Duncan pub in 1999.Photograph: Stig Kolstad/PA

Fragments – The London Nail Bombings (Radio 4) | BBC Sounds
Amazing Sport Stories: Chasing Mountains (BBC World Service) | BBC Sounds
Thanks a Lot, Milton Jones! (Radio 4) | BBC Sounds
How Was It for You? With Rachel Parris and Marcus Brigstocke (Keep It Light Media) | Apple Podcasts

Two past events, both epic in their own way, transformed into audio documentary. Perhaps it says something about me that I preferred the more tragic tale, though it’s to do with the way the story was told. Either you’re someone who responds to the personal mountains conquered in everyday human life, or you’re someone who likes stories about actual mountain climbing…

The very first offering in Radio 4’s new half-hour Sunday evening documentary slot, made by the ever-brilliant Alan Hall of production company Falling Tree, recounted the 1999 neo-Nazi attacks that killed three people and injured 140, focusing particularly on the one that tore through the Admiral Duncan, a gay pub in Soho. In Fragments – The London Nail Bombings, we mostly heard two voices: Jonathan Cash, who was in the pub and injured when the bomb went off, and Chris Taylor, a photographer who happened to be nearby. Taylor’s photographs provide much of the programme structure.

We also heard from Leo Epstein, who owned a business on Brick Lane, which was bombed a week before the Admiral Duncan, and Emdad Talukder, injured in the Brick Lane explosion. All the subjects’ descriptions of what happened are so clear, so matter-of-fact, that at first I thought they hadn’t been badly affected. But later in the programme, both Cash and Taylor said that they’d suffered from PTSD. An awful memory: Cash, in shock, having crawled out of the pub, was standing in Old Compton Street and remembers being shoved by a woman. “She looked at the scene, with bodies on the street, injured people, and she pushed me out of the way because she said she wanted to get a better view of the poofs.”

Such vivid, upsetting details, but there were uplifting ones too. Epstein describing how the Brick Lane community was brought closer by the bomb – the opposite effect to that which the bomber had planned. It’s nice to have a documentary in this early Sunday evening slot. Let’s hope it stays.

Less up my street was Chasing Mountains, a new four-parter from the World Service’s Amazing Sport Stories series. During the 00s, various elite female climbers separately decided to try to complete climbing’s hardest feat: to conquer all 14 of the world’s tallest mountains. And our host is… some American woman, and then, suddenly, a well-spoken female English voice pops up. Not sure why, but they’re both our guides, here to tell us the story of Spanish climber Edurne Pasaban and her attempt to climb K2. The American turns out to be Kathy Karlo, a rock climber (we’re told this nine minutes in); the English woman is Joanna Jolly, who, 27 minutes in, “confesses” (her term) that she was a BBC correspondent stationed in Nepal for a while. Sigh. Just get all of this out of the way early, then we’ll know where we are.

Milton Jones uses audio exactly as it should be used: to create utterly bananas situations that would cost thousands to film

We hear how Pasaban nearly died during her K2 summitting; she loses her head-lamp on the night-time descent, and has to wait 20 minutes to be found, by which time she’s covered in snow and her body is shutting down. Pasaban is an endearing presence who, despite her strong accent, I would have liked to hear less mediated, not so produced. We’re also introduced to two of her 14-summit rivals: the Austrian Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner and the Italian Nives Meroi. (One of the episode’s pleasures is hearing all these different voices.) The stage is set for a race – who will be the first? – though there are several hints that the story will develop into something more subtle and with more characters involved.

It all sounds exciting, right? Yet I found myself drifting more than once, despite the production’s best efforts to keep things lively. (At one point, Karlo and Jolly list, alternately, and in very serious voices, bad things that happen to you when it’s very cold. Karlo: “hypothermia”; Jolly: “altitude sickness”; Karlo: “exhaustion”; Jolly: “acute mountain sickness”. It’s hilarious.) Still, things should start ramping up over the next three episodes, so maybe hang in there, in Pasaban manner.

The great sitcom Thanks a Lot, Milton Jones! is back on Radio 4, one of the few 6.30pm weeknight comedy regulars that I would be devastated to lose. Jones’s gags are so silly and come at you so often and so quickly that you can’t help but succumb. Plus, he uses audio exactly as it should be used: to create utterly bananas situations that would cost thousands to film. Last week he and his sidekick smuggled themselves into prison in a lorry, intervened in a shoplifting incident and went to court. Tim Vine is often credited with creating the UK’s best one-liners, but Jones has equally funny zingers (his opening gag, about colonisation, was a doozy). Absolutely delightful and genuinely laugh-out-loud.

Not so gag-packed, but warm and chuckly, is How Was It for You?, a new podcast from real-life comedy couple Marcus Brigstocke and Rachel Parris. This is not a Shagged Married Annoyed type of show, mostly because Parris and Brigstocke don’t argue. Everything is less confrontational as they take small things of everyday life – noisy toddler toys, GSCE French textbooks, houseplants – discuss them and then rate them. The atmosphere is gentle, and Parris and Brigstocke are lovely people to spend time with. A cuddle of a show