From Marilyn Monroe to the Manson Family, the dark side of Hollywood – podcasts of the week


Picks of the week

Badlands: Hollywoodland
Jake Brennan’s Disgraceland chronicled rock’n’roll’s most notorious moments, and now the master storyteller is turning his attention to movies. Hollywoodland mixes history, legends and – of course – true crime and, as ever, Brennan knows when to ham up an anecdote to give a well-worn story a more compelling twist. (See: the tale about Errol Flynn playing the piano with his penis). There are 10 episodes to binge, exploring Dennis Hopper’s rise, fall and cocaine habit, Bruce Lee’s connection with The Manson Family, and the mystery that still surrounds Marilyn Monroe’s death. Hannah Verdier

Invisibilia
This NPR podcast, which brings together storytelling and science to explore “the unseen forces” around us, recently returned for a seventh series with new hosts Kia Miakka Natisse and Yowei Shaw. Recent episodes on reparations and fake news are thoroughly-researched and full of human stories; in the former, a grassroots project to get financial aid to help young black people probes the discomfort of white residents, piques the creativity of their black counterparts, and questions ideas around guilt for both sides. Hannah J Davies

An atypical true crime podcast ... Stay Away from Matthew MaGill.
An atypical true crime podcast … Stay Away from Matthew MaGill. Photograph: Zoonar GmbH/Alamy Stock Photo

Chosen by Danielle Stephens

In a world where binging is the norm, I’ve decided to follow Pineapple Street Studio’s Stay Away from Matthew Magill on a weekly basis. I look forward to each instalment of this atypical true crime podcast – and I’m still trying to figure out what the twist is.

On the face of it, host Eric Mennel is simply trying to learn more about a dead man whose box of old documents and cassette tapes ended up in his possession. This man – Matthew MaGill – starts off as a mysterious character, but by the end of episode two, Mennel tells listeners that MaGill wasn’t a nice man.

Initially, I was slightly uncomfortable with the idea of a stranger to telling the world of MaGill’s flaws, without the protagonist getting the chance to defend himself. But, there’s another story running concurrently throughout this series. In alluding to troubles within his own family, Mennel seems to be teeing up a revelation that I’m eager to get to the crux of.

Heartwarming characters from MaGill’s past make this series a fun listen at times, but the draw of the podcast is definitely the curious connection between this “bad man”, and the host. I’m looking forward to finding out what that might be.

Talking points

  • Not content with having caused a viral storm with her performance in the Handforth parish council meeting, Jackie Weaver is set to host her own comedy podcast. Jackie Weaver has the Authority will see comics including Isy Suttie and Omid Djalili join her to answer questions including “is a holiday in the UK a staycation or a holiday?”. It begins on 18 May – on Spotify, rather than Zoom.

  • Why not try: The Moon Under Water | Aria Code | Fate of Fact



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