#81 Old haunts
You don't have to be a house to be haunted.
This week: ancient places, stubborn ghosts.
The Big Loop
Anyone who enjoys the productions of Pacific Northwest Stories (see Tanis, the recently concluded Black Tapes, and near relation Rabbits) should turn eagerly to this new show from PNWS co-founder Paul Bae. The Big Loop intends to bring us mysterious standalone fictions, and if its first episode is a yardstick by which to measure, it bodes well for theseason ahead. "Episode 1 - The Studio" is a ghost story told in the first person, performed with convincing directness by Tara Pratt, and elevated by compelling sound design. It also does away with those features of the PNWS-podcast model that can, over time, become maddening (e.g. the need for periodic exposition-dumps to navigate rough seas of plot). "The Studio" delivers a couple of genuine scares - we can't shake the image of a man at the door, turning - but it's also more than a ghost story; it's a parable about watching, and being watched. It's a slick and gripping listening experience, and we hope for more to come.
Gateway episode: 1. The Studio (31 Oct 2017)
Living with the Gods
The marvellously plum-voiced Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, helms this new series, another worthy successor to his iconic Radio 4 series, A History of the World in 100 Objects (2010). Produced in the same daily, 15-minute format, Living with the Godsexplores human beings' long-standing attempts to understand our world through shared religious belief and ritual. Inspired by precious objects and sites, both from within and outside the museum collections, MacGregor draws together spiritual threads from throughout history - ideas about the importance of the sun, of water, of ancestors, of sacrifice - to craft a tapestry of vivid and recurring ideologies. 15 episodes already available.
Gateway episodes: The Beginnings of Belief (23 Oct 2017) / Living with the Dead (31 Oct 2017) / Holy Killing (8 Nov 2017)
Tracks: Series 2, Episode 1: Ordovician
We didn't dream we'd see the return of conspiracy thriller Tracks, one of the best series of 2016. But it's true! This is happening! Season 2 is a prequel, which relocates us to remote Snowdonia, a national park in Wales, in the year 1980. A paleontologist, Rachel, loses her little boy on the mountain. In fact, it seems to her that the earth has literally swallowed him up. When she stumbles into a nearby pub, two local men help her take up a search for the child. Paranoid weirdness ensues, and it is as yet unclear what this has to do with the events of Season 1, but no doubt we'll get there. Written by Matthew Broughton and performed by a cast of pros, including Fiona O’Shaughnessy (from Channel 4's creepy Utopia) and Robert Pugh (Game of Thrones), this is must-hear, top-drawer drama.
Released: 6 Nov 2017
Darius Arya Digs
Gratuitously handsome and good-at-social-media archaeologist Darius Arya helps us discover the ancient ruins of Rome in this intimate series, all recorded in the field. In each episode, we find ourselves transported to the atmospheric streets of the Eternal City, surrounded by sputtering Vespas and accordion players and the cries of pedestrians. Arya proceeds to walk us to and around his chosen site - the Pantheon, or the Forum, or thebanks of the Tiber - and to narrate its history and its present. As he wanders and paints word-pictures, it's just as though we're tucked into one of his Indiana Jones khaki pockets. Each lightly edited episode runs about 30 minutes.
Gateway episodes: The Roman Forum (13 Oct 2017) / The Tiber (26 Oct 2017)
From: History Hit
For the loved ones of a long-missing person, there is no relief from that great, unanswered question - what happened? - or from the tense hope that an answer might one day be possible. In this new five-part mini-series from Radio New Zealand, host Paloma Migone, a Canadian-Peruvian journalist who heads the RNZ Bureau in Wellington, reports on well-known local cold cases, speaking with family and witnesses, and re-examining theevidence. Episode 1 sketches the final hours of animal-lover Kirsa Jensen, who went missing during a horse ride, and whose mother is still determined to know the truth. Serious and sensitive, this is true crime at its most human.
Gateway episodes: Kirsa Jensen (3 Nov)
The Black Tapes / Into the Black
Here Be Monsters / Are You Sure You're Awake?
Someone Knows Something / S3 Ep 1: The Wrong Body
Heavyweight / Christina
Some Noise / Ep 20: A State of Mind (I of II)
The World in Words / Bash the Fash
The Pitch / Tushy