Picks of the week
Fine Gorilla Person
Audible, all episodes available now
Koko was the superstar gorilla of the 80s and 90s who counted William Shatner and Peter Gabriel among her celebrity friends. But how did the famous “talking ape” end her life overweight, depressed and “a shell of a gorilla”? Lauren Ober asks how being stuck with one foot in the human world affected Koko, from being given laxatives to being accused of sexual harassment because of her fascination with nipples.
Apple Podcasts, episodes weekly
True crime meets winemaking in this comedy podcast, featuring Anthony Gioe playing a public radio host dispatched to Napa Valley on the trail of conman Lyle Le Monde. “Stop asking questions, sugar tits,” warns a local in one of several threatening notes, but in the true crime genre’s tradition, the host is undeterred as he grills tattoo artists about the small-town murder. HV
Glittering a Turd
From Tuesday, widely available
As someone who’s lived with stage four cancer since she was 23, CoppaFeel! founder Kris Hallenga knows a thing or two about making the most of a difficult situation and she brings her warmth and wisdom to a new podcast about others doing the same. Rosie Jones, Nadiya Hussain and Giles Duley are among those who don’t hold back in their chats. HV
Notes on a Scandal
Widely available, episodes weekly
The true crime podcast set in 70s Pakistan opens its second season with the trial of Shahnaz Gul, accused of killing disgraced bureaucrat Mustafa Zaidi. Brilliantly gossipy journalists Saba Imtiaz and Tooba Masood-Khan uncover key parties, society affairs and a link to Christine Keeler as they dig into “Pakistan’s first jet set murder”. HV
Who Was Michael X?
This immersive podcast tells the intriguing story of the Trinidad and Tobago-born Michael de Freitas, who grew up to become Black Power leader Michael X in 60s London. Hamza Salmi goes back to his beginnings, speaking to experts while also using dramatised snippets to bring the activist’s story to life. Hollie Richardson
There’s a podcast for that
From a candid look at microaggressions to a podcast dismissing the taboos of sex talk, Sadia Nowshin picks five of the best podcasts on the British Asian experience.
Brown Girls Do It Too
With a frankness that would make some south Asian aunties faint with disbelief, best friends Rubina and Poppy tackle possibly the biggest taboo among Asian women: sex. Discussing everything from toys and BDSM to the internalised instinct to judge others and the pressures of identity, the duo shed light on the experience of being sexually active and talking about it, despite the disapproval of their cultures. They are joined by a dynamic cast of British Asian women – including the actor Nina Wadia and author Sadia Azmat – who are equally as open about “doing it too”, and happy to shock the community in the name of greater understanding.
But Where Are You From?
Created by besea.n (Britain’s east- and south-east Asian network), But Where Are You From? seeks to throw the lived reality of these communities in Britain into sharp relief. Melding starkly honest discussions about discrimination, identity and childhood trauma with lighthearted and personal conversation, every episode is rooted in the microaggression of the title; guests discuss how aspects of their cultural identity relate to or are changed by the experience of trying to identify as British, in a society that consistently questions their legitimacy to do so.
What is it like to challenge cultural expectations of gender and sexuality to become the first out British Muslim drag queen? In the illuminating sixth episode of Masala, the founder of south Asian feminist network Soul Sutras, Sangeeta Pillai, speaks to Asifa Lahore to find out. This is just one example of how Pillai sensitively centres typically taboo topics; other important conversations include the culturally enforced hush around periods, and survivors living with the stigma of colonial rape. With multiple British Podcast Awards to its name, Masala gets to the heart of the issues quietly affecting the lives of British Asian women behind closed doors.
Brown Don’t Frown
After examining her relationship with mainstream feminism and finding that it excluded the experiences of the women in her life, British Bangladeshi Tania Sultana Hardcastle sought to create a platform to diversify who gets to tell their stories. With a mission to access the people beneath the cultural stereotypes and bring underrepresented voices to the fore, she invites guests from varied walks of life to speak about their relationships with intersectional feminism, shedding light on experiences otherwise left in the shadows. Topics covered include everything from workplace tokenism to the gentrification of east London’s Brick Lane.
“You’re saying follow your gut, and my gut says steak is absolutely lush.” Comedian Raul Kohli takes to the mic to navigate his understanding of, relationship with, and questions about the Hindu religion of his upbringing. Kohli is candid about aspects of his belief, whether that’s admitting to a pandit that he’s tried beef (sparking the quip above) or considering the paradox of identifying as an atheist Hindu. Alongside the exploration of the world’s oldest religion, episodes also cover hidden histories. Highlights include a fascinating look at the hijra community of India who, as Kohli points out, were experimenting with gender long before the conversations of modern western society.
Why not try …
Surreal schoolyard comedy The Rubber Room, featuring famous faces including Arrested Development’s David Cross and Tony Hale.