Wednesday, June 22 2022

Selections of the week

queen of hearts
All episodes widely available from Tuesday
“Dating is a drag, but this queen has your back,” proclaims Drag Race graduate Jujubee, before promising to rescue aspiring novelists from the harsh world of apps. A series of provocative games ensue, with the intrepid winger leading the contestants into the Bone Zone and asking them to do titillating boring phrases. But there’s a catch: they can’t see each other until the end, when Jujubee decides if they’re date-worthy. Hannah Verdier

Welcome to Provincetown
Widely available, weekly episodes

Mitra Kaboli follows seven people in a seaside town that transforms into an iconic LGBTQ+ community in the summer in this heartwarming podcast. Friendly and determined characters such as Brian the newly divorced bear and Qya the “It Girl” help Kaboli adjust to a new way of life with gossip, fun and touching moments. excl. tax

First person
Widely available, weekly episodes

New York Times reporter Lulu Garcia-Navarro goes beyond head-turning to find out what really informs people’s opinions. She speaks to those directly affected by the news, starting with Merritt Tierce shining a light on what flipping Roe v Wade really means, sharing her experience of teenage pregnancy. excl. tax

Widely available, weekly episodes

Rosie Holt is the unstoppable Harriet Langley-Swindon, flanked by Brendan Murphy and Eshaan Akbar in this glorious satirical podcast. He’s the kind of ‘famous opinionist’ who likes to toss out unchecked Brexit statistics at a James O’Brien game and debate how problematic taking the knee can be, as it could give false hope of demand in wedding. excl. tax

Smokescreen: Puppy Kingpin
Widely available, weekly episodes

Trafficking puppies like drugs is a cruel act, but during the pandemic the demand for pets has given scammers a new opportunity. Here, Alex Schuman discovers the Marty Byrde of the puppy world, Jolyn Noethe, who exploited potential owners. It is, as Schuman says, a “scuzzy” tale – and just one of many. excl. tax

There’s a podcast for that

Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney Composition: Yui Mok/PA; Neil Mockford/GC Images

This week, Hannah Verdier chooses five of the best scandal podcastsfrom a look at the Rooney v Vardy ‘scousetrap’ to canoe fraud and the infamous Profumo case

This is… Wagatha Christie
From an Instagram sting to the high court, Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy’s libel case has gripped millions, including Abi Clarke, whose BBC podcast is all about the shenanigans. “It’s like the cursed child of my two loves: true crime and hot celebrity gossip,” she says, explaining why it’s so compelling. Clarke treats the subject with justified gravity, bringing in tabloid pun writing experts and commentators on the landscape in which the Wags have thrived. The case offers twists, turns and more shade than a stray toe sticking out the edge of a tanning booth.

HeidiWorld: The Story of Heidi Fleiss
Predictably, the story of the famous “Hollywood Madam” (TM) is juicy – and telling it has become a labor of love for journalist Molly Lambert. There are plenty of details before the main event, with Fleiss’ bohemian childhood in Los Angeles and the emergence of her entrepreneurial skills when she took a share of the profits from a babysitting circle. If you want to hit the big guns, start with episode four, Little Black Book, in which Fleiss eschews “fusty Hollywood glamour,” bringing in a new kind of sleek ’90s It Girl to satisfy her patrons.

British scandal
Despite its rather grandiose title, this show isn’t just filled with fancy people doing terrible things. Alice Levine and Matt Forde bring a touch of My Dad Wrote a porn-style side-eye to their telling of outrageous stories involving sex, money and power, but resist making the tasteless jokes that could be so easy. Lord Lucan, the Profumo affair and the News of the World phone hack each have a pair of episodes, along with stories of ordinary people such as “Canoe Man” John Darwin, the famous faker of his own death.

You have to remember that
If old-school scandal had a voice, it would be Karina Longworth’s captivating, vintage LA cocktail tone. The narrator and writer documents Hollywood’s golden – but often murky – age in meticulous detail, from Frank Sinatra and Mae West to MTV and Bo Derek. A thread of misogyny runs through many stories, and she doesn’t shy away from gory details. The Charles Manson season helped the podcast gain traction, thanks to its forensic detail and Longworth’s knack for unearthing hidden facts without going too far down the road of exploiting true crime.

land of disgrace
Music meets true crime in Jake Brennan’s genre podcast, which is full of corruption, sleaze, murder and lost songs. Brennan has the tone of an insider who eats anecdotes about Oasis hedonism for breakfast – and with over 100 episodes under her belt, her unflinching style makes her a great listener. From Jerry Lee Lewis and Sid Vicious to the softer, more modern angst of Taylor Swift, there are plenty of great stories to choose from. You may know the story of Tupac, but it’s just as fun to remember the many and varied scandals surrounding Derek and the Dominos.

Why not try …

  • An exciting hunt to turn a Russian cybercriminal into an American asset in Hack Me If You Can.

  • More heartbreaking and offbeat stories from the world of romance as Modern Love returns for a new series.

  • Dystopian and eclectic audio drama inspired by the work of Karel Čapek in Newts!

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