Canadian broadcaster and artist Sook-Yin Lee hosted Definitely Not The Opera for more than a decade until its last hurrah in May. The door is still swinging behind her as she returns with this firecracker of a podcast. In Sleepover, Sook-Yin spends the night in a hotel room with three strangers in hopes that, together, they might solve each other's problems. In Episode 1, we meet her first group of participants - Buzzfeed writer Scaachi Koul,64-year-old Alan, and eight-year-old Charlie - and our collective gaze turns first to Charlie. Her problems are no less real for belonging to a child: she loves her guinea pig, but worries that she loves it too much; she struggles with reading and that makes her feel stupid. The group rally around her, sharing their own confessions, buoying her up as they would any friend ("You're not stupid," Alan says gruffly. "I knew from the minute you opened your mouth you weren't stupid." Or Scacchi, on The World of Pooh: "I've read this book and I don't like it. Nothing happens. It's about a bear who doesn't wear pants."). Episode 2 follow this new tribe into the evening, with Scaachi's story now taking centre stage. A new trio assembles every three episodes.
This all might sound like it's in danger of being cute. It's not. It's a little spiky, a little weird. The comparison with Mystery Show is irresistible - Sleepover, too, has a complicated heart and a distinctly personal vision. But actually, it sounds and feels like nothing else we've heard, and it's a timely reminder that all of us - all of us - have human fallibility in common.
Gateway episodes: Charlie's conundrum (27 Jun 2016) / Alan Takes Control (11 Jul 2016)