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Best podcasts of the week: The stone cold truth about the scandal that rocked curling
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Best podcasts of the week: The stone cold truth about the scandal that rocked curling

Picks of the week

Widely available, episodes weekly
Never before has a broom been responsible for so much scandal – in 2015, the Canadian curling community was rocked by a team that used one instead of two. “To not have the other person out front cleaning in a frosty situation doesn’t make sense,” said one shocked commentator. The full story has never been told, so comedian and curling geek John Cullen investigates the switch to the “super broom” that caused a furore. Hannah Verdier

This Is History Presents … The Iron King
Widely available, episodes weekly
He was handsome, but he was murderous: Philip the Fair of France is the subject of this spin-off from the hit series. Hoot of a medieval expert Danièle Cybulskie brings the graphic details on a period of history that saw the king involved in adultery, vicious murders and a battle for succession. HV

The Girlfriends
Widely available, episodes weekly
Amateur sleuths Carole Fisher, Mindy Shapiro and Alayne Katz brought solidarity to crime podcasting when they investigated the murder of Gail Katz. Now they’re back to ask what happened to a woman whose body was found and mistaken for Katz, displaying the same beautiful loyalty to each other and the victim. HV

Team GB swimmer Tom Dean, host of Tom Dean Medal Machine.View image in fullscreen

Tom Dean Medal Machine
Widely available, episodes weekly
Team GB swimmer Tom Dean is going for a record-breaking five medals at the Paris Olympics and in this second series he continues to speak to people who can inspire him. That sounds worthy but it isn’t. Steve Backshall is the first guest, talking about his wife Helen Glover’s Olympic rowing hopes, his own challenges and the importance of clean water. HV

The Six Billion Dollar Gold Scam
BBC Sounds, all episodes out Sun
The gripping story of this new series begins in 1995, deep in the Indonesian jungle, where Canadian mining company Bre-X claim to have struck gold. Then the whole thing is revealed as a scam, the company’s chief geologist mysteriously dies, and the investors lose millions. Host Suzanne Wilton is determined to find out what went down in the jungle. Ellen E Jones

There’s a podcast for that

Los Angeles, the setting for zombie apocalypse show We’re Alive.View image in fullscreen

This week, Ella Braidwood chooses five of the best post-apocalyptic podcasts, from a drama about zombies in LA to a cult queer horror show.

We’re Alive
This audio drama originally ran between 2009 and 2014, and was highly rated for its quality sound, rich storytelling and tense moments over the course of four seasons. The podcast follows US soldier Michael (Jim Gleason) and his fellow reservists Saul (Nate Geez) and Angel (Shane Salk) as they fight to survive a zombie apocalypse in downtown LA, fleeing to “The Tower” in the hope of finding safety. Its producers have released several dystopian spin-offs, which have also been well-received: Lockdown (2016), Goldrush (2019), and Descendants (2022-2023).

Hello from the Hallowoods
Described as a queer horror podcast, this ongoing series has gained a loyal fanbase since its beginnings in 2020 and returned for season four earlier this year. The drama follows the residents of a forest (“The Hallowoods”) at the end of the world. Serious subjects are explored – including grief, isolation and religious trauma – but there is plenty of joy, too, and the series has been praised for its heartfelt LGBTQ+ representation. Sound effects range from eerie to calming, with its writer, William A Wellman, providing the soothing voice of the podcast’s narrator-character Nikignik.

Impact Winter
Written, directed and executive produced by Travis Beacham, co-writer of Pacific Rim, this audio drama has a solid cast and crew behind it: it’s also executive produced by some of the team behind The Walking Dead, and its stars include Holliday Grainger and Bella Ramsey. The show is set in the near future, some years after a comet struck Earth. With the sun blotted out, survivors band together underground, with a young woman named Darcy (Grainger) leading the fight against the vampires outside. It’s a very British drama, complete with transmissions from a fictional Home Office and the word “blighter”.

Rapture 518
This Canadian audio drama opens with Dr Sarah Penn, a resident physician, as she broadcasts from room 518 of an apartment building called Rapture. With the world engulfed by a mysterious pandemic, those unfortunate enough to have been infected have turned into flesh-eating sociopaths. As such, Penn’s transmission comes from a place that she can only describe as the “end of the world”. Episodes are relatively short, making for bite-size chapters, and while the audio is relatively minimalistic it adds to the dystopian feel. The creator of the show remains anonymous, but they have a heartwarming presence online, personally responding to reviewers and Reddit threads.

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The Phenomenon
Launched in 2017, The Phenomenon ran for four seasons and is based on RK Katic’s book of the same name about a supernatural threat that has left humanity on the brink of extinction. Survivors must stick to three rules to stay alive: “Do not look outside. Do not look at the sky. Do not make noise.” The first three seasons of the podcast, written by Jared J Smith, follows survivors from the initial cataclysmic incident to an alien invasion. The fourth season is set sometime later, once “the monsters” have gone, and sees a different writer taking on each episode. The high quality audio and sound effects deserve a shoutout.

Why not try …

  • Journalist Becky Milligan unpicks the unsolved and very suspicious murder of a Bulgarian monarch in The Butterfly King.

  • “Creativity, spirituality and psychology” are the anchors of US Office actor Rainn Wilson’s wonderfully woo podcast, Soul Boom.

  • A tense hunt to track down prolific people smugglers in BBC Sounds series Intrigue: To Catch a Scorpion.

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Source: theguardian.com