Picks of the week
June: Voice of a Silent Twin
BBC Sounds, all episodes from Boxing Day
For the first time, June Gibbons (below right) tells the story of her and her sister Jennifer – known as the Silent Twins – in her own words. After their parents moved from Barbados to rural Wales, the twins only communicated with each other. They then became the youngest women to be sent to Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, where they stayed for 11 years. But they kept diaries, which are revisited here for the ultimate insight into their lives. Hollie Richardson
The Paul Weller Fan Podcast: Desperately Seeking Paul
Widely available, all episodes out now
Modfather superfan Dan Jennings has spent 179 podcast episodes talking to anyone who can give an insight into his hero’s life. But Paul Weller has never appeared … until now. Jennings’s passion for music and painstaking research has paid off as he finally sits down with the star in this finale. Hannah Verdier
Dr Death: Bad Magic
Wondery, episodes weekly
A new season of Dr Death always means a fresh tale of medical cons. This time, Laura Beil puts Serhat Gumrukcu in the spotlight. The doctor caused a sensation when he claimed he could cure cancer and HIV but, as Beil slowly uncovers, his credentials didn’t quite match up to the multimillion dollar value of his bioscience company. HV
Widely available, episodes weekly
This enjoyable, frothy series takes a deep dive into celebrity legal cases, re-enacting key moments and asking lawyers to weigh in. Voice actors go to town on transcripts of Gwyneth Paltrow’s ski-crash trial and Kate Winslet v the Mail, while the experts offer amusingly astonished comments. Alexi Duggins
Widely available, all episodes out now
It’s a festive special for this tips-based series about mental wellbeing from Paul Dolan, professor of behavioural science at the LSE. It’s low on production value but high on good suggestions, including how to have a great New Year’s Eve, and some liberating advice on new year resolutions – feel free to quit them. AD
There’s a podcast for that
This week, Ammar Kalia chooses five of the best myth-busting podcasts, from an entertaining exposé of weird cults to a podcast calling out phoney claims on … other podcasts
In February 2022, science writer Wendy Zukerman (pictured above) announced that her scientific research series would dedicate itself solely to factchecking other Spotify podcasts, after the Joe Rogan Show’s spreading of Covid-19 misinformation. It was a noble stand and one that exemplifies the reasons why the rational, moralistic Science Vs has gained such a committed following in the eight years since it has been on air. With Rogan’s theories busted, Zukerman and her dedicated team of researchers are now back on their usual beat, debunking whether gluten is bad for all of us, if drugs can boost our libidos, the importance of flossing and much more.
Moving beyond the realm of scientific questions and into the longstanding myths that have infiltrated our culture as a whole, writer Willa Paskin’s podcast applies an investigative rigour to examining a wide range of everyday topics. Highlights include a fascinating deep dive into food origins and the question of whether parmesan cheese can be authentically crafted in Wisconsin, as well as a quest to unmask the true, corporate identity of the tooth fairy, and the truth about the viral, colour-changing image of #TheDress. Packed with guests and first-hand testimony, this engaging series wears its expertise lightly.
You’re Wrong About
Just as objects or concepts can take on mythical lives of their own, people can be ascribed legacies that don’t quite match up with the truth of their existence. That’s the belief of writer Sarah Marshall and it is her mission to get to the bottom of these historical fabrications in her lively series. Taking on a different figure miscast in the public imagination each week and aiming to find out the real story behind their lives, Marshall has already produced convincing episodes on singer Sinéad O’Connor, trans athlete Renée Richards and many more.
Perhaps our biggest myth-making industry is the multi-billion dollar wellness market. From fad diets to influencer trends, celebrity doctors and the whole world of Goop, there is plenty of material to be factchecked and Michael Hobbes and Aubrey Gordon aim to do exactly that in their often hilarious and well-informed series. If you’ve ever been bamboozled by trends like paleo, pilates and drinking shots of apple cider vinegar, look no further for all the answers in under an hour. Plus, at the end of each year, Hobbes and Gordon give out their own awards, the Grifties, to name and shame the worst fads that have emerged.
Sounds Like a Cult
Sometimes a fad is more than just a passing phase, it becomes so insidious it may as well be its own belief system attracting acolytes. For hosts Isa Medina and Amanda Montell, the line between fad and cult is a thin one and in their fun series, they take a behavioural psychology role to analyse how these trends build avid followers and become cult-like, while dismantling what they’re promoting in the process. The pair analyse all manner of phenomena, from Coachella to corporate America, The Real Housewives and Montessori education, all the while finding reasons to be exceedingly wary of following the crowd.
Why not try …
Desert Island Dishes sees professional chef Margie Nomura interview interesting people from the world of food and beyond to uncover the dishes that have shaped their lives.
In season 4 of Witnessed: Devil in the Ditch, journalist Larrison Campbell returns to her Mississippi home town to reexamine one of its most notorious cold cases – the murder of her grandmother.
With an eclectic guest line-up, each episode of Paul Giamatti’s Chinwag takes a deep dive into the wilderness of the mind on topics like: aliens, conspiracies, hoaxes, altered states of consciousness and more.
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