Best podcasts of the week: Inside the Met Police’s biggest crime busts in history | Podcasts

Picks of the week

Football’s Greatest
Widely available, episodes weekly
Was Ian Wright a better footballer than Alan Shearer? How do players communicate with foreign teams who only know the words “Bobby Charlton”? Jeff Stelling is the man to debate these questions, along with guests such as Paul Merson, Glenn Hoddle and Sir Geoff Hurst. The first episode hears Stelling reunited with Soccer Saturday partner Chris Kamara, reliving many fond memories including the origins of that iconic “Unbelievable, Jeff!” catchphrase. Hannah Verdier

Blindspot: The Plague in the Shadows
Widely available, episodes weekly
Misinformation and missteps were rife in the early years of the HIV epidemic and this podcast zeroes in on New York. WNYC’s Kai Wright was a reporter on the ground from 1996, so pulls no punches about how those in need were denied healthcare. Dr Anthony Fauci is among those interviewed, along with activists from the 1980s. HV

Supporters of Donald Trump storm the US Capitol on 6 January 2021.
Supporters of Donald Trump storm the US Capitol on 6 January 2021. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Catching the Kingpins
BBC Sounds, episodes weekly
If you like your podcasts full of drug dealing, corruption and encrypted phone networks, this six-parter about the Met Police’s biggest organised crime bust will do the job. As host Mobeen Azhar says, it gets “more and more jawdropping” as he gets the inside story from the force who infiltrated key figures from the criminal underworld. HV

Less and Better
Widely available, episodes weekly from Sun 14 Jan
Is eating high-quality meat and less of it better for you? In this month of vegan curiousness and aggressive health messaging, Katie Revell and Olivia Oldham explore what it’s like to raise and slaughter animals, how culture and upbringing influences people’s tastes and whether buying the good stuff is accessible. HV

January 6th: An American Story
Widely available, episodes weekly
Marking three years since the US Capitol attack – now that Donald Trump is set to be the next Republican nominee – is an insightful series from Our Body Politics about the people of colour who helped lead the January 6th committee investigation. They speak about their experience, starting with why they choose to defend a nation that doesn’t always defend them. Hollie Richardson

There’s a podcast for that

Oprah Winfrey speaks during Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour.
Oprah Winfrey speaks during Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour. Photograph: Steve Jennings/Getty Images

This week, Rachel Aroesti chooses five of the best podcasts featuring real-life stories, from a chronicle of LGBT heroes to the remarkable rise of Oprah Winfrey

Lives Less Ordinary
The truth is always far stranger than fiction in this captivating series from the BBC World Service, which sensitively unearths some of the most remarkable tales of human endeavour. Marvel at the determination of Tariq Mehmood, one of the Bradford 12, who was arrested as a youth for his attempts to defend himself from skinhead violence and ended up a novelist. Be bowled over by the nous of Jaivet Ealom, who escaped an inhumane immigration detention centre in Papua New Guinea using his knowledge of the show Prison Break. And wonder at the gumption of Laura Dekker, who at just 13 decided she was ready to sail around the world solo (much to the consternation of the Dutch authorities).

Making Gay History
With his award-winning 1992 book Making History, journalist Eric Marcus established himself as one of the foremost chroniclers of 20th century gay life. For this moving podcast, he has revisited his copious interview archive to allow leading figures in the LGBT rights movement to tell their own stories. Hear from big names – early transgender activist Sylvia Rivera, playwright Larry Kramer, TV host Ellen DeGeneres – as well as lesser known figures whose activism made the world a safer place for queer people.

Diary of a CEO
Money can’t buy you happiness – and making millions doesn’t automatically qualify you as an inspirational figure. Yet it’s also true that entrepreneur Steven Bartlett’s smash hit interview podcast frequently acts as motivational rocket fuel. Since 2017, Bartlett has been mercilessly quizzing business leaders about their childhoods, their working habits and the philosophies they live by, excavating practical, life-changing advice for his listeners. Fittingly, he has since expanded his remit to include a headline-grabbing selection of famous faces, including Davina McCall, Maisie Williams, Liam Payne and Jesse Lingard.

History’s Secret Heroes
From tireless intelligence agent Virginia Hall and her spectacular prison break to Surrey bank clerk Eric Roberts’ hunt for Nazi sympathisers, this thrilling podcast narrated by Helena Bonham Carter relives some of the most incredible feats of endurance and stories of derring-do from the second world war. Along with spy tales, we hear about the amazing artistic resistance of Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore and the pioneering feminism of Major Charity Adams, the first black officer to serve in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.

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Making Oprah
Fawning interviews and tell-all memoirs can only get you so far when it comes to understanding the mega influential figures who have shaped our culture: ideally, you need some incisive journalistic investigation to properly join the dots. This podcast, delivered with the perfect level of irreverent pep by radio host Jenn White, is just that: a super-smart, giddily entertaining romp through the rise of America’s talk show queen, tracing her incredible journey from a local TV presenter in Baltimore to a media mogul and attempting to pin down exactly how she managed to win the hearts and minds of a nation.

Why not try …

  • Hosted by curator and director Aliyah Hasinah, Notes on Loving is a podcast focused on the practice of love, and the different ways we show it.

  • Check up on Parenting Is a Joke, the award winning comedy-parenting podcast exploring the joy and unrelenting chaos of raising kids.

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