How populism took over politics – podcasts of the week

Picks of the week

Rise of the Iron Men (from 18 Aug)
McMafia author Misha Glenny takes listeners on a riveting, cross-continental journey in his new Audible show, which joins the dots between everyone from Bolsonaro to Modi to Boris Johnson, to tell the story of how populist leaders have come to dominate global politics. He begins with Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, once a young liberal and protege of George Soros, now the leader of a staunchly nationalist, far right government. Intelligent, eye-opening, and totally brilliant. Hannah J Davies

‘Timely and intriguing’ ... BBC podcast Power Out.
‘Timely and intriguing’ … BBC podcast Power Out. Photograph: BBC

Power Out
This intriguing new drama sees Sean (Vinnie Heaven) arrested by police and told that they are on a par with “North Korea and Isis” in the eyes of the law. Their crime? Working for climate activists AchatinellaApexfulva to bring down the powers that be. With touches of humour, a timely premise, and a plot which weaves in progressive gender politics, Sarah Woods’ drama bridges the gap between radio play and podcast, thanks to immersive binaural audio. HJD

Chosen by Max Sanderson

Making podcasts in the midst of a pandemic has been an interesting exercise. Like many working from home, the Guardian’s audio team has had to come to terms with new technologies and workflows, but we have also been made aware of just how different conversations are when they happen remotely. Thankfully all of our own podcasts have overcome those challenges, but for one of my guilty pleasures, Tigerbelly, it feels like it’s been more of a struggle.

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Running since 2015, the show (which also has a strong presence on YouTube) is essentially a chance for cult comedian Bobby Lee and his co-host and partner Khalyla Kuhn to have long and winding conversations with a guest, usually a fellow comic. It’s these conversations, which are funny, silly and – a word of warning – sometimes a little offensive, which lie at the heart of the show and which were lost during lockdown.

Thankfully, following a revamp of their studio – which now caters for socially distanced interactions – guests are now back on the cards (the first being Theo Von) and with that, the spark is back. As with most episodes, I would struggle to tell you what they actually spoke about, but that’s not really the point. Like all good comedy, it’s all in the delivery.

Talking points

  • Three, it’s said, is a trend, and nowhere is that more evident than in the podcast world, where a trio of shows covering similar divisions in the US education system have emerged. As well as Nice White Parents from Serial Productions, Fiasco’s newest season (out now via Luminary) also looks at racial inequality in schooling, as does Nashville Public Radio’s The Promise, released on 31 Aug. (Hat tip: Hot Pod)

  • Why not try: Missing America | The Good, The Bad and The Rugby | Your Own Personal Beatles



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