Six new podcasts to listen to this week

These are our top podcast picks.

Co-hosts Helen McLaughlin, Karen Whitehouse and Lauren Kilby from Who Shat On The Floor At My Wedding?
05_AT_Forensic Outfits Co-hosts Helen McLaughlin, Karen Whitehouse and Lauren Kilby from Who Shat On The Floor At My Wedding?

There’s a lot of true crime and murder mystery in this week’s column. So if you are curious and fascinated by real-life cases, you are spoilt for choice.

1. This is History: The Iron King

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: History

A spin-off series of the popular This is History podcast narrated by Dan Jones, it is now historian Danièle Cybulskie taking listeners inside the reign of French King Philip IV, aka Philip the Fair or The Iron King.

The latest episodes start in 1285 in the Pyrenees, with the elder King of France, aka Philip the Bold, post-battle, ravaged with dysentery, coughing out a death rattle following his retreat against the crown of Aragon. Watching on, his 17-year-old son, Philip, will soon be trying on his crown for size.

In his quest to become chief of the French morality police, Philip was assisted by his wife, Joan of Navarre, to whom he was married off to when he was 16, and she just 11. She brought Champagne and Brie to the marriage (not just food, but entire counties), which sparked her hubby’s obsession with collecting a few more – and this soon puts him on a dangerous collision course with the Plantagenet King Edward I.

There’s a deep dive into the Middle Age art of negotiations – Philip wants English-owned Gascony, so summons Edward to Paris for talks – but busy hammering the Scots, he sends his brother Edmund instead. Incredulously, Philip asks Edward if he can temporarily have Gascony to flex his top dog muscles to his counsel and, cough, promises to give it right back. He even throws in his sister Margaret as a bride (I wonder if she was consulted?).

Fascinating and enjoyable, regular This is History listeners may miss Dan Jones’s lively, entertaining style, but this podcast is sure to pick up a whole host of new fans.

(By Caroline Duggan)

2. The Girlfriends: Our Lost Sister

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Crime

If you are a true crime enthusiast and suspense lover, then the Novel Audio-produced The Girlfriends: Our Lost Sister may be one for you.

In the third episode of the second season, host Carole Fisher, alongside her close friend Mindy Shapiro and Gail Katz’s sister Alayne Katz, set out to uncover the identity of their new Jane Doe.

Sometimes listeners aren’t always privy to the work that goes on behind the scenes when trying to find someone who has vanished off the face of the earth until something turns up worthwhile.

In this case, that was when their producer Anna, stumbled across a charity called The Hart Island Project, who assist families and individuals with limited resources in accessing the history and public information concerning burials on Hart Island.

It was great to hear a thoughtful, sincere and pragmatic approach to this line of work and hear from the people who give up their time to help bring closure to the families of missing, murdered and unidentified people, whilst still bringing listeners along.

However, I must say as a trigger warning, there was a lot of discussion about acts of violence and murder, including serial killing, and grave exhumation.

(By Yolanthé Fawehinmi)

3. Who Shat On The Floor At My Wedding

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Crime

As soon as you press play, listeners are told about a large traditional red Swedish house in the middle of the woods, in a village called Black Lake.

Although the name of the actual village has been changed to avoid divulging the real location, this episode is a great start to what already sounds like another exciting season for the award-winning podcast, Who Shat On The Floor At My Wedding?

When brides Helen McLaughlin and Karen Whitehouse asked this question after they tied the knot on 11 August 2018 on a boat in Amsterdam, and hired unqualified detective Lauren Kilby, they never thought they would be back to solve The Case Of The Tiny Suit/Case.

During the first episode of 10, they reveal the details of the new crime, introduce you to victim Kristina and set the scene for the parameters of the investigation.

I think what really makes this podcast work is the fact that they don’t take themselves too seriously. It’s a unique take on true crime, which can sometimes leave you paranoid and looking over your shoulder. It’s both funny and fun, serious and unserious, all at the same time, which isn’t very easy to do.

(By Yolanthé Fawehinmi)

4. Gangster

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Crime

Viv Graham junior lost his dad when he was four and doesn’t have many memories of him. But unfortunately, he has grown up with the unsolved murder of his dad hanging over him.

Viv Graham was a 17-stone ball of muscle who built a protection empire that spanned across Newcastle and beyond. He was feared and revered in equal measure until he was murdered, in cold blood, by an organised hit.

In this new six-part series of the hit BBC Radio 5 Live podcast Gangster, investigative journalist Livvy Haydock takes listeners on a journey across the North-East’s criminal underworld of violence, drugs and ultimately, murder.

For the first time, listeners hear Viv Graham junior speak so candidly about how his father’s death impacted him and his brother, Dean, who died at a young age from an overdose.

We also hear from Paul Palance, the former doorman turned actor who got Viv his first job as a doorman, Gary Munro, Viv’s boxing sparring partner, Anna Connelly, Viv’s widow, and Chet Sandhu, a former doorman and gang member.

(By Yolanthé Fawehinmi)

Spotlight on…

5. Mariah Carey: Portrait of a Portrait

Streaming platform: Audible

Genre: Music

If you want to attend a masterclass on the art of musical storytelling, Mariah Carey’s Words + Music instalment, Portrait of a Portrait, brought to listeners by Audible, is a delight.

The American singer-songwriter invites listeners into the Butterfly Lounge, where she goes deep into the process of making music and the meaning of the songs on her studio album Caution, with long-term musical director Daniel Moore and writer Michaela Angela Davis, who collaborated with Carey to write her memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey.

Though Carey can’t recall the exact moment when she discovered the power of words, the 55-year-old remembers writing a dark poem called My World, which depicted the level of trauma she experienced as a 12-year-old.

As the episode weaves in and out of short musical performances and unfiltered thoughts, you learn so much more about the intentionality of the icon’s craft and message.

More artists should unveil more of their musical journey in this way. This was a beautiful experience.

(By Yolanthé Fawehinmi)

6. The Rob Auton Daily Podcast

Streaming platform: All streaming platforms

Genre: Personal stories and arts

Rob Auton said so little but so much in the latest episode of The Rob Auton Daily Podcast.

Having recently celebrated the 500th episode, the writer and performer started by putting out daily episodes – produced by Plosive Productions – in 2020 where he read and performed some of his most recent work, which is poignant, poetic and raw.

In this episode, titled ‘Heart Surrounded By Life’ the Yorkshireman asked some thought-provoking questions – the ones that have the potential to keep you up at night – in under three minutes, including what started his heart? What made it beat? What do feelings look like? How was your last minute?

He also spoke about our emotions being objective and why it should be taught in schools. “We’re doing sadness today kids,” he joked. But I loved it when he said: “Emotion is an influential ride in the playground of my life and my heart is the biggest ride on the playground.” How delicate yet profound.

There aren’t many short and to-the-point podcasts making a difference to the podcasting space, I hope Auton continues to write and share his work with us.

(By Yolanthé Fawehinmi)