Picks of the week
The Apology Line
The latest series from true crime powerhouse Wondery tells the story of a confessional hotline and how it consumed the life of its creator Allan Bridge – or “Mr Apology” – who was privy to crimes big and small from anonymous callers. The police, we learn, were in and out of his life for several years as he heard confessions from shoplifters to murderers. That also means they were part of his wife Melissa’s life, too, who – as luck would have it – hosts this series. Brilliantly murky. Hannah J Davies
The Battersea Poltergeist
“I’m Danny Robins and I don’t believe in ghosts,” says the host of this drama-documentary podcast – before his mind is quickly changed by an encounter with a mysterious box. Robins questions whether spirits exist as he investigates supernatural happenings centred on a teenager in an “ordinary” south London house. Dafne Keen and Alice Lowe are among those providing the voices as the podcast neatly skips between past and present, combining reconstructions with interviews.
Chosen by Rachel Humphreys
I’ve recently been drawn to audio which makes me feel like I’m going somewhere other than the corner shop, and this series spirited me away across the British Isles. Zakia Sewell is on a quest to find her Albion, or her national identity, and confronts the complexities of searching for this as someone with Caribbean, Welsh and English heritage. Along the way she meets folk musicians, morris dancers and speaks to her own family about the struggle to find a foothold in a country burdened by an imperial past.
The series, in many ways, is a celebration of the land, creatures and stories that are the foundations of England. But it also addresses an uncomfortable truth; that we as a nation don’t have a coherent sense of what it means to be English and many don’t feel they have any claim to it. “Could someone like me belong to such a place?” asks Zakia, “and could Albion ever truly belong to someone like me?”
I thought this was beautifully made and, as someone who – like Zakia – has never considered themselves patriotic, I was surprised that it sparked an interest to learn more about English folklore. It also helped me appreciate something I never understood growing up in Cornwall: maypole dancing.