Best podcasts of the week: how to solve a problem like the climate emergency


Picks of the week

To a Lesser Degree
With Cop26 on the horizon, the Economist’s new series considers what can be done to prevent the current emergency causing irrevocable damage to the planet. What technology – and, crucially, what political input – is needed at this pivotal stage? Correspondents across the world offer informed analysis, with the latest episode considering whether individual action, such as giving up meat, is essential.
Hannah Verdier

Waiting for Impact (from 12 Oct)
Who are early 90s boyband Sudden Impact and what happened to them? If you’re not familiar with the white-shirted sensations, they’re the (possibly imaginary) group who made a fleeting appearance in a Boyz II Men video. MTV VJ Dave Holmes uses the premise to take listeners back to a pre-internet era. Hannah Verdier

“One day everyone woke up and the internet wasn’t there”. So begins Sam Greenspan’s new sci-fi podcast, in which the NPR and 99% Invisible journalist imagines a world where a “Cloudburst” destroyed the web, leaving behind a podcast later discovered by a human and their AI companion. A challenging speculation on the future. HV

Bad Women: The Ripper Retold
Historian Hallie Rubenhold dismisses problematic narratives around the women murdered by Jack the Ripper in her new podcast. Looking at the troubles – including alcoholism and abuse – that blighted the women’s lives, Rubenhold reveals their histories, bringing the focus away from their infamous killer. HJD

Talking Bottom
Revisit the rude and crude comedy of Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson, as 90s sitcom Bottom celebrates its 30th anniversary. Presented by the show’s creator, Paul Tanter, Talking Bottom examines topics intrinsic to the cult classic. The real-life “gas man” is just one nostalgic guest invited to look back on the series. Hollie Richardson

Anita Hill is sworn-in before testifying at the Senate Judiciary hearing on the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination.
Anita Hill is sworn-in before testifying at the Senate Judiciary hearing on the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

Chosen by Danielle Stephens

The use of archive can have a powerful effect on a podcast. In simply letting us hear the line of questioning directed towards Anita Hill as she testified at the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 1991, listeners are able to determine for themselves how poorly she was treated by the men asking her questions, who included then-senator – and current US president – Joe Biden.

In the first episode of Because of Anita, by Pineapple Street Studios and The Meteor, hosts Dr Salamishah Tillet and Cindi Leive take you back to a time in their lives when they were glued to the TV, listening to the lawyer and academic tell the world that the Supreme Court Justcie had sexually assaulted her.

While it initially focuses heavily on the politics of the hearings, more enlightening is the interview with one of Hill’s lawyers on the day, Kimberlé Crenshaw. Her explanation of why the public (or certain sections of the public) were so unwilling to believe Hill, or as she puts it, the concept of “intersectionality” is by far one of the most interesting conversations that I’ve heard in relation to this issue.

The result is a really well-produced series, albeit one likely to induce listeners’ anger.

Talking points

  • In ‘celebrities continue to take over podcasting’ news, Lindsay Lohan will share “her authentic voice and a never-before-seen side” in an upcoming audio series. The Mean Girls and Parent Trap star’s new series is expect to launch later in 2021, or in early 2022.

  • Why not try: On the Outside | If It Bleeds, It Leads | Scoot Over

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