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This week in the world of audio, we delve into the mystery of who took over for Avril Lavigne with Joanne McNally's investigation. We also explore the world of sports agents and review "Diving With A Purpose."
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This week in the world of audio, we delve into the mystery of who took over for Avril Lavigne with Joanne McNally’s investigation. We also explore the world of sports agents and review “Diving With A Purpose.”

Who is the new Avril Lavigne? Joanne McNally investigates on BBC Radio 5 Live. Stream on BBC Sounds.
The Sports Agents | Global

The BBC World Service presents a documentary titled “Diving With A Purpose” that can be accessed through BBC Sounds. It explores the subject of diving and its impact on conservation efforts.

joanne mcnallyView image in fullscreen

Who Replaced Avril Lavigne is an airy, almost weightless new podcast from BBC Sounds. In it, jovial comedian Joanne McNally is given the assignment of “investigating” the several-years-old conspiracy theory that Canadian pop-punk princess Avril Lavigne is not actually Avril at all any more, but someone else called Melissa Vandella. Before we get into it, let me give you a huge spoiler. Avril Lavigne is fine. She has not been replaced. I know! Worrashocker.

The purpose of internet conspiracy theories is not concerned with their accuracy (as they are usually false), but rather their entertainment value. Recent events have highlighted this phenomenon: while it is a fact that Kate Middleton is alive and recovering, it is more enjoyable to entertain the idea that something sinister might be at play. For instance, the manipulated photos suggest that Kate has been replaced by an artificial intelligence robot, and even her own children are unable to tell the difference.

The crucial question concerning the replacement of Avril Lavigne is whether or not we are enjoying ourselves. The response to that is mostly positive. McNally makes great efforts to entertain, going on to interview Avril’s concert attendees and gaining backstage access by using her charm and deception (“Just say Joanne’s here!”). She also enlists the help of her skeptical comedian friend Gearóid Farrelly to examine conspiracy theories with her. This involves Farrelly believing that in 2003, Avril, who had achieved huge success with her Let Go album, disappeared (and possibly died or was abducted) and was replaced by a person named Vandella. However, the reasoning behind Vandella pretending to be Avril is not clearly explained. Despite the lack of explanation, McNally and Farrelly analyze some photographs and come to the conclusion that Avril could possibly be someone else. However, upon personally examining those same photos, it is apparent that Avril has simply aged and changed her eye makeup.

However, that is not the main focus. McNally, Farrelly, and other comedian acquaintances (such as Joe Lycett in episode two) excel in providing entertainment. At first, I was a bit annoyed by the frequent distractions, but I realized that this is not a serious investigative series. It is a comedic one.

Gabby Logan and Mark Chapman

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Gabby Logan and Mark Chapman are the hosts of a new podcast called “The Sports Agents”. This podcast serves as a middle ground for the two talented presenters, as they continue to be a part of the BBC while also joining the Global podcast team, which is a commercial audio company that also has hosts like Emily Maitlis and Jon Sopel. It could be seen as a stepping stone or an investment for their future.

I was eagerly looking forward to watching this show, as Logan and Chapman, who are both well-informed and personable, are two of my favourite hosts. The Sports Agents is extremely enjoyable, although I do have a few minor issues with its structure. The introductory segment is too lengthy and unscripted, which detracts from the overall flow of the show. While producers tend to appreciate having talented hosts on a podcast and giving them free rein to discuss various topics, having a stronger structure would actually enhance the podcast. A straightforward introduction, such as “I’m Gabby Logan” and “I’m Mark Chapman,” followed by two to three questions to introduce the topic, would be more effective. Then, after playing the theme song, the show can begin. Otherwise, everything feels too unfocused and sluggish.

Gabby Logan and Mark Chapman.View image in fullscreen

Out of the three shows that I have listened to, the one that stood out was the episode from last Tuesday about the unusual Drug Olympics (not its actual name). The Enhanced Games was conceptualized by American entrepreneur Dr Aron D’Souza, with the concept being that athletes can participate in events without following the rules set by the World Anti-Doping Agency, thus allowing them to use any performance-enhancing drugs they want. D’Souza’s main goal is to have someone break Usain Bolt’s 100m sprint record and the 50m freestyle swimming record. The victors will receive millions of dollars as their prize.

Logan and Chapman conducted an interview with D’Souza which was captivating, especially because Logan wasn’t afraid to hold back. She immediately challenged D’Souza’s confusing statistics and reprimanded him when he tried to patronize her by calling her old-fashioned. She also held him accountable for his statements. It was refreshing to see this side of Logan, as on the BBC she typically serves as a host rather than a reporter. It was equally exciting to witness Chapman also taking a tougher stance. (On a side note, D’Souza is promoting the Drug Olympics as a means to exploit our potential to surpass our biological limitations, yet another example of the “live forever” hype in the tech industry.)

It’s rare to see these two famous broadcasters trying something new. While we’re used to hearing from them often, the d’Souza show highlighted what we may not have been exposed to.

The Documentary BBC podcast

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Just room to mention a sweet feature on the World Service’s The Documentary strand. Diving With a Purpose is about an African American diving club of the same name who search for long-lost slave wrecks. They were trying to find evidence of the Guerrero, a slave ship wrecked in the Florida Keys in 1827: 561 captive Africans were on board; 41 of them drowned. Our presenter was the wonderfully positive Kennedy Lucas, one of the divers. Indeed, every young person we met in the documentary was beautifully upbeat and inspiring, though their task was an exceptionally difficult one. It’s hard to find evidence of the shipwreck, because in the 200 years since, the coral has grown over it. They did their best but found nothing conclusive. No matter. Everything about this documentary was generous and heartwarming, even when the climate crisis was discussed. It’s amazing to me how some Americans can transform setbacks into something hopeful. Like a magic trick. Lovely.

Source: theguardian.com