Talking points

A new report on podcasting underlines the enormous popularity of the medium. According to the Infinite Dial, more than half the population of the US has listened to a podcast, and in 2019 one in three listened to one at least once a month. Particularly notable was the fact that podcasts are beginning to find a robust audience with older listeners, with 17 percent of over-55s saying that they listen to them on a monthly basis, up from 13 percent in 2018.

Because absolutely every person/company/inanimate object needs a podcast these days, dating site Bumble are launching one. Titled Unsubcribe, it will help listeners “unsubscribe from the negativity and resubscribe to patterns of behaviour that will help them be the best version of themselves”, with the assistance of weekly guests. First up, groundbreaking British Vogue publishing director Vanessa Kingori.

Finally, we should direct you to two pieces of podcast-related writing from these pages. First up, Simon Hattenstone speaks to Dame Kelly Holmes about her new Audible series What Do I Do: Mental Health and Me. And, following last week’s news about pay-for service Luminary, Jack Seale asks whether podcasting has betrayed its DIY roots and sold out.

Picks of the week

Madeleine McCann.

Madeleine McCann. Photograph: PA


It has been almost 12 years since Madeleine McCann went missing during a family holiday in Portugal, sparking an international search for the British three-year-old. Her disappearance has long been the subject of various theories, with a Netflix series on the way as well as this new podcast from Australia’s Nine Network. Although the case is seen by many as an example of gross overspending on a missing person (it has cost over £12m to date), this series highlights just how strange an investigation it has been. Hannah J Davies


A new season of Invisibilia, Hanna Rosin and Alix Spiegel’s brilliant podcast about the unseen details of everyday life, is always welcome. They promise “no easy answers, just the right questions”, here asking if people should feel empathy with their enemies and whether pain can be cured with more pain. It starts with the story of a young dancer who wakes up in agony with a hip injury. Doctors can find nothing wrong with her, so will the strategy of ignoring the pain work? Hannah Verdier

British Mps Reject No-deal Brexit At Any TimeUK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

British Mps Reject No-deal Brexit At Any Time

UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor Photograph: Jessica Taylor/Xinhua/Barcroft Images

In parliamentary terms, this week has been unprecedented. And to match this, today’s bumper Brexit episode of Today in Focus sees Anushka Asthana entering the heartland of British politics. With guest appearances from Jacob Rees-Mogg, Jess Phillips, Emily Thornberry and Tim Farron, and analysis from deputy political editor Rowena Mason, this one is not to be missed. Max Sanderson

Chosen by Danielle Stephens (audio producer, Chips with Everything)

The Dropout podcast artwork (ABC)

The Dropout podcast artwork (ABC) Photograph: ABC

Elizabeth Holmes swore she had invented a technology that would revolutionise healthcare. But there was just one problem; she never actually finished it. And the company she founded to house it, Theranos, would eventually find itself at the epicentre of a scandal and charged with “massive fraud”.

This is the focus of The Dropout, a new podcast by ABC radio and ABC News Nightline which details Holmes’ fall from grace. Over seven parts, host Rebecca Jarvis guides us through taped FBI interviews with Holmes, and interviews with former Theranos employees and disgruntled customers. All of which leaves you wondering; how on earth did this scam go on for so long? And when does ambition become dangerous?

The story is expertly told and left me feeling personally aggrieved by a woman I have never met. Not just for her scheme, but for the damage it has done to the idea that a woman could be the next Steve Jobs in an industry dominated by men.


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