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Best podcasts of the week: From Real Housewives star to six years behind bars | Podcasts


Picks of the week

Terribly Famous: Adele
Widely available, episodes weekly
The likable Emily Lloyd-Saini and Anna Leong Brophy are your hosts for this gawp inside the goldfish bowl of celebrity. First stop is Las Vegas, where Adele is starting a residency. As the pair go back and tell her story, from her TV debut on Later … and her first Brit award, it’s underpinned by her modesty and down-to-earth nature. Fans will already know Adele’s story but the hosts tell it with humour and a refreshing lack of side-eye. Hannah Verdier

Queen of the Con: The Unreal Housewife
Widely available, episodes weekly

This scandal-loving podcast picks apart the life of another con merchant: Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’s Jen Shah. The reality star’s arrest just as she abruptly left the set was a fall from glamorous grace, but her designer’s testimony about her abuse makes it very satisfying. What emerges is a portrait of a ruthless manipulator. HV

Adele, pictured at her Las Vegas residency.
Adele, pictured at her Las Vegas residency. Photograph: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for AD

Believable: The Coco Berthmann Story
Widely available, episodes weekly

Coco Berthmann became internet-famous for sharing her wild story of surviving sex trafficking but was arrested for fabricating a cancer diagnosis. In this 10-parter, host Sara Ganin investigates – but the most surprising discovery, she says, is “that some parts were true”. HR

I’m Not Here to Hurt You
Widely available, all episodes out now

Known as Ireland’s “most polite bank robber”, John O’Hegarty – who obtained two degrees from top universities before turning to crime – is the fascinating subject of this true-crime podcast. Through a series of interviews with O’Hegarty, journalist Kevin Doyle draws out a story of twists, confessions and a bearded disguise. HR

Smokescreen: Betrayal on the Bayou
Widely available, episodes weekly

Chad Scott was a DEA special agent known in New Orleans as “the big dog” and “the white devil” who “played informants like pawns, pitting brother against brother”. In this juicy podcast we hear what happened when, betrayed by his own team, he became the target of a federal investigation that landed him behind bars. HR

There’s a podcast for that

Asian migrants in south London in the 1970s, as explored in the BBC’s Three Pounds in My Pocket.
Asian migrants in south London in the 1970s, as explored in the BBC’s Three Pounds in My Pocket. Photograph: Tony Henshaw/Alamy

This week, Nabiha Ahmed chooses five of the best podcasts for when you’re sick of celebrities, from a show litigating fallouts between friends to a BBC podcast telling the life stories of south Asian migrants

Other People’s Lives
Not all podcasts require a high-profile host or guest to be hugely entertaining. Other People’s Lives, a pod where hosts Joe Santagato and Greg Dybec phone strangers they have found on the internet to talk about their peculiar behaviours, is proof. While their guests are not famous, it doesn’t take long to realise they are by no means ordinary. Somehow Santagato and Dybec manage to stay composed when confronted with, say, people who defend their choice to eat human faeces; or someone admitting that herpes was the best thing that ever happened to them. It’s the audio equivalent of something so repulsive you cannot look away.

Have You Met?
Former Cambridge students Sulaiman and Saadadeen interview friends about their childhoods, their journeys through education and their aspirations. Have You Met? began while the pair were studying, and was hosted from student halls. But the end of their time at university has not put an end to the podcast. From the story of a law student with hearing who grew up in a deaf household to the anecdotes of one of their secondary school teachers, these intimate exchanges ask listeners to engage with the questions as much as the guests.

Three Pounds in My Pocket
The guests interviewed by Kavita Puri on this BBC Radio 4 series are all British south Asian people who migrated to postwar Britain, some with as little as £3 to their names. In each episode, you are bounced between different south Asian migrant stories: hard-hitting ones of Sikhs pressured to remove their turbans, and uplifting tales such as that of a DJ who began a “daytimer” club scene in Bradford for British Asians not permitted by their parents to go out to nightclubs. It is a refreshing change from the interview-style podcasts that dedicate episodes to a single guest. Best of all, the stories feel more like a conversation; one I wish I could have had with my own grandparents.

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Conversations With People Who Hate Me
Hosted by Dylan Marron, Conversations With People Who Hate Me brings together two ordinary people to discuss their recent disagreements or heated quarrels. Instead of a celebrity taking the hot seat, we have one chairing encounters between non-famous people. These conversations, although uncomfortable for participants and listeners at times, do a tremendous job of pursuing common ground. The odd episode does feature a celebrity (Amanda Palmer and Hank Green, for example), but most deal with archetypes you may already know; colleagues turned enemies, online trolls and high-school bullies all feature.

Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People
The title of this podcast – in which host Chris Gethard speaks to one anonymous caller for an hour – can be misleading. Some of these stories are not conventionally “beautiful”; they can, in fact, be unsettling. Perhaps the beauty lies in how willingly strangers share them. The non-judgmental responses from Gethard, combined with the anonymity of his guests, allow for an unapologetic exploration of taboo subjects. One thing guaranteed is that you’ve probably never heard anything like these tales. And if any celebrity has ever pretended to be an adult baby, or has had diarrhoea in a burning building, there’s a good chance that they’re unwilling to admit it.

Why not try …

  • The new season of True Spies, on the twisty tale of leftwing extremist turned CIA informant Bruno Bréguet.

  • The Katie Price Show, from the ex-model who promises that “love me or hate me, I bet there is a part of you that’s interested”.

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