Best podcasts of the week: Paris Hilton dances through the history of the world’s greatest nightclubs

In this week’s newsletter: A new series produced by the world’s most famous party girl delves into the origins of iconic clubs from London to Lagos. Plus: five of the best travel podcasts

Picks of the week

The History of the World’s Greatest Nightclubs
Widely available, episodes weekly
“Some of the best times of my life have been spent inside of nightclubs,” says executive producer Paris Hilton as she introduces her new podcast. “Singing, dancing and being free to truly be myself.” If you’re hoping for a huge dose of Hilton on the mic, you might be disappointed, because she hands over the decks to the very clued-up Ultra Naté. The result is rather fabulous, with stories of famous DJs and the best scenes from London to Detroit. Hannah Verdier

The Girlfriends
Widely available, episodes weekly
Vegas is a small world when your boyfriend is a plastic surgeon with a charismatic character and the number plate “Nip Tuck”, as Carole Fisher found. In this new podcast, which unravels beautifully, she recalls the moment Bob Bierenbaum began dating other women – and how they later banded together to fight for justice for his missing wife, Gail. HV

Author Han Kang, who features in the Booker prize podcast.
Author Han Kang, who features in the Booker prize podcast. Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian

Cover Up: The Pill Plot
Widely available, episodes weekly
Just like today, the early 90s were a battleground for women’s rights, with the abortion pill available in Europe and Asia, but not in the US. Host TJ Raphael charts the story of a group of activists who smuggled it into the country, while dealing with opposition from anti-abortionists. HV

After Broad and Market
Widely available, episodes fortnightly
When Sakia Gunn was murdered in downtown Newark in 2003, reporter Jenna Flanagan expected an outcry, but it never came. The death of a Black, queer teenager didn’t get the headlines it deserved, but Flanagan’s podcast about that night and its impact is vital and detailed, with contributions from the 15-year-old’s friends and community. HV

The Booker Prize Podcast
Widely available, episodes weekly
Every year, more than 500 books are nominated for the famed literary award. This podcast, presented by the well-informed and enthusiastic Jo Hamya and James Walton, ploughs its way through as many of them as possible, including many that won’t make the cut. July’s Book of the Month is The Vegetarian by Han Kang (pictured above). Phil Harrison

There’s a podcast for that

Chef Anthony Bourdain.
Chef Anthony Bourdain. Photograph: Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

This week, Charlie Lindlar chooses five of the best podcasts about travel, from a holiday version of Desert Islands Discs to a globetrotting series from the late Anthony Bourdain.

The National Trust Podcast
At first glance, you may dismiss the dramatic potential of a series by a charity that takes care of stately homes and gardens. But – far from monotonous histories of damp old mansions – this podcast exposes the untold, often completely unexpected truths about the hundreds of locations the National Trust looks after in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 120 episodes over seven series, you can hear how the Trust helped foster the Black hiking movement, why Surrey’s Box Hill is a cycling mecca and what the childhood homes of the Beatles reveal about them.

The Travel Diaries
In short, it’s Desert Island Discs but with places rather than records. Now on its ninth season, each weekly episode sees journalist Holly Rubenstein meet celebrity guests from Lorraine Kelly to Stanley Tucci to hear about the holiday spots that mean the most to them – and their bucket list locations they’ve yet to hit. BBC newsreader Clive Myrie’s account of the many war zones and natural disaster sites he’s reported from also provide a slightly different take on what it means to travel and experience the world.

Pack Your Bags
Taking a step further down the celebrity travel rabbit hole, Russell Kane hosts this much more ephemeral but no less addictive podcast series, in which famous faces reveal the three things they can’t board a plane without. Of course, it can grate to hear about the air miles the rich and famous rack up in relative luxury – butthere’s also the opportunity to rifle through the carry-ons of the rich and famous. Author Candace Brathwaite’s tales of volunteering in India and Sue Perkins’s guide to working around her twin fears of flying and sea sickness are excellent starting points.

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
Already a revered travel and food journalist, Anthony Bourdain (above) became perhaps best-known for his documentaries, which went beyond the tourist traps and explored the truth of local life, food and culture across the globe. His CNN television series Parts Unknown is also available in podcast fashion – and can take you anywhere from Texas to Senegal or Myanmar with the click of a button. Bourdain’s masterful narration and his genuine willingness to eat anything put in front of him means the audio version will leave you as hungry and full of wanderlust as his TV shows once did.

For a more lo-fi and local travel experience, try this BBC Radio 4 series in which Clare Balding hikes with both everyday heroes and famous guests to better understand nature and find overlooked holiday locations on home turf. Whether it’s trudging through Hackney Marshes with Anita Rani, roaming the beaches of Sheppey or discovering the hidden beauty of the Hebrides,its immersive production and Balding’s wholesome commentary will transport you, and have you itching to see more of our country with your own eyes (although, at least this way you don’t have to endure the exhaustion and blisters).

Why not try …

  • Big Sugar reveals the truth about a clandestine, and not-so-sweet industry.

  • Head back to the 90s with Blur, Oasis and a host of other chart-botherers in the BBC’s The Rise and Fall of Britpop.

  • Celebrity therapist Esther Perel sensitively solves more relationship woes in the latest series of Where Should We Begin?


Alexi Duggins, Hannah Verdier, Phil Harrison and Charlie Lindlar

The GuardianTramp

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