Best podcasts of the week: The rise and fall of the Silicon Valley brand that made antidepressants ‘cool’
In this week’s newsletter: Cerebral raised millions from investors, but ended under investigation. How did it go wrong? Plus: five podcasts to help you understand British politics
Picks of the week
Audible, episodes weekly
What more reliable source of authoritative life advice could you want than two stand-up comedians? Self-described “deeply underqualified pair of homosexuals” Catherine Bohart and Larry Dean tackle readers’ romantic issues ranging from first dates to ghosting. They have plenty of raucous fun and, thankfully, things steer clear of life-wrecking romance tips thanks to their in-house referee, relationship expert Charlene Douglas who is the resident expert on Married at First Sight UK. AD
Widely available, all episodes out now
A bit like a comedic Cash in the Attic, this show sees comics Darren Harriott and Josh Jones head to a fellow stand-up’s house, nosey around, then try to sell some of their belongings to raise money for charity. They while away quite a bit of time just chatting about the items with their owners, but when they get selling the pace picks right up. AD
BBC Sounds, episodes weekly
With the subjects telling their own stories, this set of one-off documentaries is unfiltered and eclectic. In the first series five instalment, Jess Shane explores the ethics of buying and selling real-life tales. Then, the mild-mannered and eloquent women of Greenham Common talk about their experiences in prison, four decades on from their peaceful protests. Hannah Verdier
Uncontrolled Substances: The Cerebral Story
Widely available, all episodes out now
A Silicon Valley startup touting itself as a cool brand selling antidepressants: what could possibly go wrong? In this four-part podcast, The Wall Street Journal’s Rolfe Winkler and Khadeeja Safdar look at how Cerebral went from raising millions of dollars from investors to being under federal investigation after their questionable ethics and drive for profit spun out of control. HV
Teamistry: The Untold Story of Concorde
Widely available, episodes weekly
The word Concorde either conjures images of the sleek engineering feat that could fly twice as fast as the speed of sound or the fatal crash that brought its reign in the skies to an end in 2000. Host Nastaran Tavakoli-Far promises the “real story” of Concorde, which involves espionage, Hollywood blockbusters, protest movements and countless people working to make the impossible happen. Hollie Richardson
There’s a podcast for that
This week, Charlie Lindlar chooses five of the best podcasts to help you understand British politics, from a show profiling Westminster’s women MPs to a guide to Scottish government
Brexit and Beyond
During the EU referendum and its bitter fallout, one organisation cut through as a trusted, calm source of fair-minded explanation of what was actually going on: UK in a Changing Europe. The group’s director, Anand Menon, turns his charming analytical style to podcasting in this offshoot. Each week, Menon and a guest academic dissect how leaving the EU is transforming the UK, and how Brexit impacts the guest’s specialty, whether it’s French politics, misinformation or rising inequality. It sounds wonkish, and is – but it’s earnest and urgent, too.
Women with Balls
If it’s access you want, check out Spectator journalist Katy Balls’s podcast, which interviews significant women across the political arena. Where this lo-fi, non-confrontational show thrives is in platforming lesser-known backbench voices such as campaigning MPs Alicia Kearns and Bridget Phillipson (and in one archive show, an ambitious up-and-comer by the name of Liz Truss), and giving each the opportunity to unpack their upbringings, beliefs, experience of womanhood in Westminster, and above all their vision for the nation.
The Rest is Politics
One of UK politics’ oddest couples, former Blair spin merchant Alastair Campbell and former Tory cabinet minister turned aspiring sofa-surfer Rory Stewart, come together in a mission to not only lift the curtain on how government really works, but to revive the “lost art of disagreeing agreeably” while they’re at it. The duo cover a lot of ground, fast, in each twice-weekly show, covering three major stories and the truth behind the headlines. But the hosts’ deep combined knowledge means you’ll come away a lot more informed than when you went in.
Bringing together political journalists from four of the nation’s leading newspapers, The Stooshie from DC Thomson is a one-stop shop for Scottish politics. With its laser focus on how policy is impacting the everyday lives of Scots (its excellent debate miniseries from May, which saw electoral candidates tackle reader questions, is a juicy starting point) The Stooshie makes for essential listening on the future of the country and the Union. It has pulling power, too: luminaries such as deputy first minister John Swinney and former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale regularly join to make sense of happenings from Holyrood to the Hebrides.
Of course we couldn’t let you go without recommending the Guardian’s own current affairs podcast, hosted by longtime columnist John Harris. In his rigorous, cut-to-the-chase manner, Harris wades through the drama and breaks down the key takeaways from the week not just in Westminster but across the UK. It’s not all about the host, though: Harris draws out valuable insight from a who’s who of high-profile guests both from the Guardian and across the political spectrum to ensure you’re hearing the right take, at the right time.
Why not try …
Unpacking the truth about TikTok infamy in This Blew Up.
Tales of post-truth America with historian Jill Lepore in The Last Archive.
Acclaimed true crime saga Bone Valley.
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