June 4, 2021

Tongue-in-cheek tales from 19th-century India – podcasts of the week

Picks of the week

Meera Syal and Jennifer Saunders give standout performances in Audible’s new pod drama, spoofing life in British-controlled India. Ineffectual governor Henry arrives in a rural province, “allergic to emotions”, part of an unwieldy bureaucratic structure, and unwilling to acclimatise. As well as the lines you might see coming (“can’t imagine the British ever going for Indian food!”), there is plenty you might not, in this tale of blustering Brits, and Syal’s Rajmata side-eyeing and sticking it to the man.
Hannah J Davies

Another tense narrative podcast from Irish national broadcaster RTÉ, whose hit series The Nobody Zone unpicked the decades-old story of a serial killer who targeted the homeless. This time around, the subject is a major political scandal which took place in Ireland in the 70s as the Troubles were mounting, with government ministers accused of importing arms into the country. There is much detail for the uninitiated to get to grips with, but it is a pod that’s well worth persevering with. HJD

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A bee collects pollen from cherry blossom at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, Britain. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Chosen by Tiffany Cassidy

I started listening to this podcast made by Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, as research while producing an age of extinction podcast episode on orchid trafficking. As the podcast quickly taught me, illegal trade is only one part of the crazy, unseen intensity of the plant world. The podcast also includes stories of plant analysis leading to criminal convictions, and the incredible medicinal properties of different flora. Kew also isn’t afraid to address its own legacy, and has an episode on the colonial history of plant collections, and the problems of inequality in horticulture today.

I understand the challenges of producing podcasts during the pandemic and appreciate that the producers were still able to create this narrative-style show. The team creatively uses sound effects and music, while telling the gripping stories of plant heists, forensics and more.

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Digital media | The Guardian June 4, 2021 at 10:34AM Hannah J Davies and Tiffany Cassidy

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