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Best podcasts of the week: stalkers, death threats and Taylor Swift


Picks of the week

Disgraceland
Taylor Swift might seem an odd choice for a podcast devoted to the world of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, but Jake Brennan finds plenty of juice to squeeze as he begins this new season. He uncovers a raft of stalkers, death threats and a whole load of lost songs in Swift’s closet. But what the salacious tale really brings home is how tough and dangerous it is for a woman to be one of the world’s most recognisable celebrities.
Hannah Verdier

Tenfold More Wicked
“This story is a thriller where the killer simply vanishes,” says author Kate Winkler Dawson as she unveils the story of Clara “Tiger Woman” Phillips, who murdered her husband’s lover. Dripping in gossipy, true-crime insights from 1920s Los Angeles, there’s also an undercurrent of a coercive relationship. HV

Lonel(i)ness
There is no shame in feeling lonely, so why is there still such a stigma attached? That’s the issue tackled by Jaja Muhammed in this one-off Broccoli Productions podcast. Speaking with people about their experiences, Muhammed unpicks all the ways a person can feel lonely, and asks what the government is doing about the loneliness epidemic. A reassuring and timely listen. Hollie Richardson

Exactly. With Florence Given
“Conversations that provide the depth you don’t get from an Instagram caption” is the MO of this new podcast from artist and author Florence Given. The first batch of episodes are about sex, with episode one featuring a candid, funny conversation with dominatrix Madam Storm. Future sex chatters will include It’s a Sin’s Olly Alexander. Alexi Duggins

Room 5
This new podcast from the brains behind Tunnel 29 attempts to create an immersive experience that puts you in the shoes of people who’ve received life-changing medical diagnoses. Think vivid descriptions of treatment rooms, the background burble of medical staff and heart-rending moments from the poignant to the tragic. AD

Mozhgan Moarefizadeh in her home studio, recording The Wait. Her father built the recording studio in a day in Mozhgan’s living room.
Mozhgan Moarefizadeh in her home studio, recording The Wait. Her father built the recording studio in a day in Mozhgan’s living room. Photograph: Muhammad Fadli/The Guardian

Chosen by Maz Ebtehaj

Watching the news this week I was never in doubt that Novak Djokovic would eventually be freed from his detention in Australia. The fate of the 14,000 refugees held in Indonesia by Australia is less certain.

The Wait is a five-part series, presented by journalist Nicole Curby and Mozhgan Moarefizadeh. Mozhgan is a refugee stuck in Jakarta. She is warm and charismatic and she forms a presenting partnership that gives a raw glimpse into the lives of people trapped in the forever inbetween.

Through interviews and candid recordings you see the dark reality of life, and the laughter rooted in the absurd. In the first episode Mozghan chuckles as she translates her brother’s story about helping the body of a dead refugee back to its family. Spoiler: It doesn’t arrive – even in death refugees can’t find home. “This is bad stuff. But this is ordinary,” she says. “This is our life now!”.

Talking points

  • Are new podcasts struggling? According to Bloomberg, statistics show that none of the top 10 most-listened podcasts in the US are under two years old, with the average age being seven years old. Apparently, this is due to the huge rise in new pods – making it harder than ever for listeners to discover great new shows. Strange. It’s almost as though the world needs a brilliant newsletter dedicated to showcasing great podcasts…

  • Why not try: Twice Upon a Time | The Comeback

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