The best podcasts of the week

Cults, scammers, and scammers make for such “reliable podcast fodder,” it sometimes feels like there are “more series about QAnon than there are actual members of QAnon,” said James Marriott in The times. But while the genre has gotten tired when it’s done, like in the new Wondery podcast twin flamesit remains a “winner”.

It tells the story of two Americans, Jeff Ayan and his partner Shaleia, whose Twin Flames Universe business supposedly helps people find love (at a price – $4,444 for the full subscription). Their theory, which is not supported by science, states that “everyone has a twin flame: that is, the person who possesses the missing half of your soul”. We hear Jeff whispering oddly arresting “gnomish bullshit” (“All of it is yours…everything, everything, everything you wish…follow me”). And we hear from clients who are “so vigorously goaded in pursuit of their twin flames that they end up with restraining orders.” It’s crazy, gripping and ultimately quite dark.

The news that Peter Flannery has adapted his classic 1960s television drama Our friends in the north for radio filled me with “weary confusion,” Patricia Nicol said in The Sunday Times. For one, the nine-part series (which made household names like Daniel Craig, Mark Strong, Gina McKee, and Christopher Eccleston in 1996) is easy to watch on BritBox.

In fact, however, it turns out to be an “engaging and compelling” standalone radio play (available on BBC Sounds). Melanie Harris’ fast-paced production has an “exhilarating panache”. Sound designer Eloise Whitmore evokes the historical atmosphere with news footage and song snippets. The underlying issues – the housing crisis, political cronyism, North revaluation and Labor’s future – are extremely timely. And the actors, above all Norah Lopez Holden as Mary, are “terrific”.

As a journalist who writes about all things audio, I’m often asked what new podcasts to keep an eye out for, Miranda Sawyer said in The Observer. “What they mean is: Are there any new bingeable true-crime series?” My current answer is that they’re trying Chameleon: Wild Boys. It’s not a true crime: it’s about two strange and half-starved teenagers who emerged from the wilderness surrounding the small Canadian town of Revelstoke in 2003 with an extraordinary story of isolation and survival against all odds. “The only problem?” observes presenter Sam Mullins: “The boys were not who they said they were.”

The podcast is “nicely paced, with excellent cliffhangers”, Mullins is “great” and the sound production is top notch. “I was captivated and surprised throughout wild boys, up to the last episode. It really isn’t going where you imagine it to be. Recommended.” The best podcasts of the week

Fry Electronics Team

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