#73 The whole truth
This week in The Audit: the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, if such a thing is possible.
This chart-topping Australian cold case investigation is distinguished by its tone, as much as by its quality. Operating in a register of cautious curiosity, which stands in opposition to the sort of faux-solemn thrill-seeking that so often creeps into true crime podcasts, Trace is the product of painstaking investigation by ABC reporter Rachael Brown into the murder of Maria James. Maria was Catholic, recently separated, the mother of two young boys - and she was stabbed to death in her bookshop in June 1980, in the middle of the day. In the decades that followed, police pursued leads, including a local priest, with little success. Now, Brown looks poised to blow this thing wide open, exposing a web of corruption and abuse in the local church. Produced with the support and participation of Maria's sons, this is a compassionate, eminently listenable search for justice. New half-hour episodes weekly.
Gateway episode: #1 Bookshop murder (20 Jun 2017)
A documentary is a true story. It is also a simplified vision, constructed for our benefit: a truth-like truth, which omits by design. This new series from KCRW combs over documentary films with their makers, trying to get at the extra, other stories that might not have made the final cut. Sometimes it brings us behind-the-scenes revelations, like the(many) bits that were made up or set up in Ur-surf film The Endless Summer. Sometimes it extends on pivotal moments to ask what happened next: like when a young soldier, in the process of being interviewed by Michael Moore, decides that he will not go back to war. At other times, it's the breathtaking drama of films in the making, like a group of young, undocumented film-makers who are trying to get themselves deported. New episodes are out every two weeks and run around 30 minutes; hear six of them immediately.
Gateway episodes: Body Language (26 Apr 2017) / The Three Owls (24 May 2017) / Because It's There (7 Jun 2017)
The Reith Lectures, Hilary Mantel
Every year since 1948, the BBC has commissioned a "significant international thinker" to write and broadcast a series of audio essays. The subject of those essays varies depending on the interests of the author: in 2013, Grayson Perry wrote with joyful fervour about a life in art; in 2015, Stephen Hawking examined black holes. This year, the twice-Booker-winning Hilary Mantel - she who rose Cromwell from the dead - turns her lively intelligence to the matter of history, presenting five essays, across five episodes, before a live audience. In each one, she turns again and again to the questions that obsess her: the power of the dead, the slipperiness of the past, the unimaginable realness of the people who came before us. In the process, she drags us through time: from the 1930s and a Polish playwright crushed by her own perfectionism, to the restless court of Henry VIII, and into her own family history. The cumulative product is mesmerising - a feat, indeed, of significant thinking. Hear four hour-long episodes now, with one more to come.
Gateway episodes: Silence Grips the Town (27 Jun 2017) / Can These Bones Live? (4 Jul 2017)
Released: Weekly when in series
Healthy or Hoax
We can't be the only ones wondering if coconut oil will eventually kill us. When it comes to what we put in or on our bodies, it's hard to know who to believe these days - themessages are mangled (are we still doing the pyramid, or no?), and we're susceptible to the charms of beautiful bloggers with dubious tumours. In this series, mild-mannered New Zealander (is there any other kind?) Carol Hirschfield and her team tackle health trends, rating them on a scale of utterly useless to probably beneficial. We won't spoil the results - we'll let you experience those Damascene moments for yourself - but recent episodes have turned upon green smoothies, HIIT workouts and almond milk. Helpful content, actually.
Gateway episodes: Getting milk out of an almond (21 Jun 2017) / Coconut oil - miracle cure or marketing hype? (31 May 2017)
The Tip Off
In this ambitious indie show, host Maeve McClenaghan from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London slips behind significant news stories to ask about the actual work of reporting. Anyone interested in how the sausage of media is made will delight in thedetails of doorstep confrontations, stake-outs and social media trawls, as McClenaghan interviews both journalists and their sources. Across five episodes so far, we've heard from a journalist who identified two British terrorists, another who exposed the Pentagon's propaganda efforts in Iraq, and explored a Buzzfeed report on dodgy political donors, among others. At a time when the term "fake news" has lost all meaning, this is a useful reminder of the grinding, dogged work that drags these stories out of the dark. New episodes every week.
Gateway episodes: Ep 3: Back to the source (22 Jun 2017) / Ep 4: Knock knock (29 Jun 2017)
The LRB Podcast / Dacre's Paper
Cosby Unraveled / Ep 08: Mistrial
Is It On? / Episode 16: Old Abbotts Die Hard
The Untold / Care or Custody
A New Life in Europe / Episode 25: I started to see his true identity
Revisionist History / The Foot Soldier of Birmingham
Nancy / #14 Kathy Goes to Camp