Picks of the week
Widely available, episodes weekly
Simon Kent Fung remembers learning about Alana Chen in 2019: “A girl from Boulder, Colorado, who wanted to become a nun, was told to keep a secret, and who died at 24.” In this devastating but sensitive investigative series, he looks at the role conversion therapy played in Alana’s story, after she told her priest that she was attracted to women. It’s a harrowing tale of how a woman Fung never met would turn his life upside down. Hollie Richardson
Tiny Huge Decisions
Widely available from Monday, episodes weekly
What starts with friends Mohsin and Dalia reminiscing about a fight over the last Ferrero Rocher morphs into a long discussion spread over six fascinating episodes about the big question they’re navigating right now: will Dalia carry Mohsin and his partner Matthew’s baby so that they can have a child of their own? HR
Speidi’s 16th Minute
Widely available, episodes weekly
Reality TV duo Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt (pictured above) have had their 15 minutes of fame: their 16th is this podcast. From bragging about free “influencer” trips to trending in China, they deliver a masterclass in the type of fame they know, joined by other gossip-mongers – Montag in particular is sparky and smart. Hannah Verdier
Over My Dead Body: Gone Hunting
On Wondery+, episodes widely available from 21 August
Florida swamps, alligators, a man on a solo duck-hunting trip: this podcast has true-crime classic written all over it. Host Jennifer Portman tells the story of Mike Williams, who went missing on a freezing day in 2000 and was presumed to have been eaten by alligators. But what emerges is more of a tangled web. HV
The Rest Is Football
Widely available, episodes at least twice weekly
A football pundit podcast might not be groundbreaking, but this one has some of the best voices going: Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer and – he of the world’s greatest – Micah Richards. Ahead of the new season, they share “big stories, tall tales, gossips and hopefully some laughs”. Oh, and a fair bit on the actual game. HR
There’s a podcast for that
This week, Rachel Aroesti chooses five of the best podcasts for summer, from a history of queer holiday haven Fire Island to celebrities’ dream festival lineups
Life’s A Beach
What’s the most summery thing you can do? Leave the UK, of course! In lieu of an actual far-flung getaway, try this podcast, which sees Alan Carr put the raucously matey interviewing style he honed on Chatty Man to good use by quizzing a slew of starry names – Damon Albarn, Michael McIntyre, Kiefer Sutherland – about their holiday experiences. Each episode features a glut of amusing anecdotes - from Jamie Demetriou experiencing Montezuma’s revenge in the Frida Kahlo museum to Suzi Rufell’s accidental towel-clad intrusion of an Italian wedding - with Carr’s boisterously camp presence bringing out the best in every guest.
Summer culture is now practically synonymous with festivals, and what better way to get into the spirit than a prolonged daydream about curating your own. Operating within the Off Menu template of fantasy pods, Shaun Keaveny, probes guests on their ideal fest, from the location to the food to the five acts who will take to the stage. The podcast’s own bill isn’t too shabby either, with musicians – Self Esteem, Johnny Marr, Kae Tempest, Ed O’Brien – and figures from film and TV (the likes of Joe Cornish, Andrew Garfield and Jodie Whittaker) attempting to give Emily Eavis a run for her money.
Finding Fire Island
In the 1950s, New York’s Fire Island began carving out a reputation for itself as a mecca for LGBTQ+ people; it turned out that the opportunity to socialise freely and escape the everyday homophobia that permeated ordinary American life was but a brief ferry ride away. Over the next few decades, Fire Island transformed itself into a “gay summer camp”, a queer cultural outpost beloved by generations of travellers. This lively, fascinating and impeccably researched documentary series dives into the area’s cultural history with help from a slew of high-profile fans, who muse on the idiosyncratic customs and joyful promise of this unique holiday destination.
Don’t be put off by the outer layer of advertorial that accompanies this nominally BBQ-premised podcast, made in association with grill manufacturer Weber. Really, the whole thing is just an excuse for a clearly delighted Simon Rimmer - freed from the awkward shackles of Sunday Brunch - to quiz his peers and elders from the cheffing world about their careers, their cookery and their summertime culinary go-tos in pleasingly nerdy style. Hear Marco Pierre White recount his rise from teenage commis to celebrity chef in granular detail, while Ken Hom, Rick Stein, Ainsley Harriott, Atul Kochhar and many more give the inside scoop on their careers.
Grow, Cook, Eat, Arrange
Gardening might not be an exclusively summer-centric activity, but it’s certainly the season when all the hard work tends to pay off. So if you’re eyeing up everyone else’s glorious blooms and deciding to finally enter your green-fingered era, this podcast is a great place to start. Hosted by renowned gardener (and cook, and author) Sarah Raven, most episodes consist of practical suggestions for plant-based success, including advice about how to protect your garden in a heatwave, recommendations for small gardens, and tips on how to best preserve cut flowers. Yet there’s also room for more abstract meditations on the theme, from the connection between art and gardens to the emotional significance of gardening as a hobby.
Why not try …
Hollywood’s portrayal of the Vietnam war is under the microscope in Do We Get To Win This Time? from the Ringer.
From double agents to George Takei, Helena Bonham Carter explores the lives of History’s Secret Heroes.
US music journalist Touré considers the impact of artists from Diana Ross to Bob Marley via Public Enemy in Being Black: the 80s.
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