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A podcast musical? No one’s done it – until now. Two Up Productions, whose cult-hit 2015 sci-fi series Limetown continues to win new fans, is responsible for the ambitious 36 Questions. The podcast tells the story of a husband and wife who are attempting to save their marriage by using a viral questionnaire (the 36 questions in question came from a 1997 study into what engenders closeness between two people and spawned 36 specific inquiries designed to make two people fall in love).
Alice Isn’t Dead
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From the team behind Welcome to Night Vale comes this new fictional podcast. The story is narrated by a truck driver who travels across America searching for her wife, long believed dead, encountering eerie, ghost towns, otherworldly characters and a complex web that extends deeper than she ever imagined. The plot thickens.
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This is a show about everything we never think about; the unnoticed things we accept as a given. For example, have you ever thought about why all car yards have those inflatable men? Or how you walk into a shop to buy socks and emerge with a new top, three picture frames, a box-set of Game of Thrones and a pair of socks? Or who decided to print the faces of missing children on milk cartons? It’s the information you never knew you needed.
Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People
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Here’s the concept: each episode, comedian Chris Gethard (Broad City, The Chris Gethard Show) answers the phone to an anonymous caller. The only rule? He can’t hang up first. Callers may have harrowing confessions to share; they may be shameless publicity seekers; they may just be lonely. Whichever they are, the calls are never less than fascinating.
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New mums Shannon O’Meara and Alice Fenton met at their mother’s group, from which they were summarily ejected for having “potty mouths”. The friendship blossomed and they’ve taken it to the airwaves to take stock of what happened to their bodies, minds and lives from the distance of a year or so after giving birth to their first babies. O’Meara and Fenton are sharing everything they wished they’d known before having their kids, and talking to experts to get to the bottom of new-mum issues such as “mum thumb”, hair-loss, sleeplessness and lazy boobs. Download from your favourite podcast app or Qantas In-Flight Entertainment channels.
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What does it mean to have an online profile in 2017? Host Emma Gannon speaks to guests such as Lena Dunham, Tavi Gevinson, Elizabeth Gilbert and Mara Wilson about growing up online, how social media has changed our lives, blogging, feminism and hashtags.
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Before Cheryl Strayed became the bestselling author of memoir, Wild, that was made into a film starring Reese Witherspoon, she was an agony aunt par excellence. Each week, she tackled questions such as “Should I leave him?” and “How do I deal with my professional jealousy?” as the anonymous Dear Sugar for The Rumpus. Now she and her Dear Sugar predecessor Steve Almond have translated the advice column to the podcast format – and it’s compelling.
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Compulsive true-crime listening in the style of the original true-crime must-listen Serial, Dirty John tells the story of Debra Newell and a handsome, charming anaesthetist called John Meehan whom she met online and married just months later. Things, as you may expect, took a turn for the sinister shortly thereafter.
How Did This Get Made?
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If you were one of the few people in the world who saw the Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez clunker Gigli, you may have wondered, “How on earth did this get made?” This hilarious podcast seeks to answer this question for that film and other cinematic anomalies such as The Last Airbender (the question is not how but why?), Glitter (Mariah Carey gets what Mariah Carey wants) and The Room (a film so egregious it’s now a classic of the bad-movie genre).
How Do You Sleep At Night
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Hosted by Hack’s Sarah McVeigh, the ABC podcast How Do You Sleep at Night? explores our moral codes and how people with questionable jobs and pasts live in the face of societal judgement. McVeigh encounters Charlie, who stabbed and killed two innocent men; has an awkward interview with Len Ainsworth who made his billion-dollar fortune on profits from pokie machines and talks to members from The Helpers of God’s Precious Infants who choose to stand outside abortion clinics harassing women.
I Love Green Guide Letters
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Steele Saunders loves the sometimes pedantic, often snarky, generally unintentionally hilarious letters sent into the Green Guide. The comedian is intrigued at what motivates some readers of the Green Guide (for the uninitiated, it’s the TV guide from Melbourne’s Age newspaper) to put pen to paper – and explores the letters with different guests each week such as Tom Ballard, Demi Lardner and Luke MacGregor.
Ladies, We Need to Talk
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Presented by Yumi Stynes, this ABC podcast delves right into the big issues with no pearl-clutching welcome. Lost libidos, body issues, motherhood regret, an over-dependence on that evening glass of wine – it’s all up for discussion.
Missing Richard Simmons
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Richard Simmons: to the general public he’s a manic, sexually ambiguous, leotard-wearing, crazy-haired relic of the 1980s. To the thousands of people the fitness guru has helped, think fans, friends and family, he’s generous, kind-hearted and a tireless advocate for the underdog. Which is why, when Simmons abruptly retired from public life (this is a man who’d greet tourist buses outside his Hollywood Hills mansion) in 2014, people were confused. Dan Taberski, a regular of Simmons’ “Slimmons” fitness classes, probes into the “disappearance”, with intriguing results.
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Canadian journalist, author and speaker Malcolm Gladwell is, above all, a thinker. He even coined a term with his 2000 book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. His books and articles often deal with the overlooked, the unexpected and the untold, and his podcast is more of the same. In Revisionist History, Gladwell re-examines an event, a person, an institution, even an idea to see if history got it right the first time.
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This deeply confessional podcast is a collaboration between Audible and TED in which speakers share their experiences anonymously. There can be various reasons for the desired anonymity – stories can be too damaging, too painful, too humiliating, too incriminating to reveal publicly. Check out episode three, Ex Con: a white-collar criminal discusses how going to jail changed his perspective on privilege.
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Remember that Peter, Bjorn and John’s song Young Folks? For a year after its release in 2006, you couldn’t walk down the street without hearing that whistle solo coming out of cars, shops and lips. How did it come about? And do you ever wonder about what events inspired Courtney Barnett’s unexpected worldwide hit Depreston? Or just who was responsible for the cheerful Bob’s Burgers theme song? This podcast is for the music-nuts. Each episode, host Hrishikesh Hirway breaks down a song with the artists responsible, covering genres from punk to hip hop to indie.
Terrible, Thanks for Asking
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“How are you?” “Fine thanks, and you?”. This kind of interaction takes place everyday and is as automatic as it is untruthful. Terrible, Thanks for Asking is the opposite of that daily white lie. “Notable widow” and author Nora McInerny host a show about feelings: pain, embarrassment, awkwardness, grief and loneliness – that manages to be funny, touching and uncomfortable all at once.
The Butterfly Effect
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Jon Ronson, the writer of books such as The Psychopath Test and The Men Who Stared at Goats, explores a taboo subject: free porn. What happens when pornography is available free to anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection? At the story’s centre is German tech entrepreneur Fabian Thylmann, who pioneered the free online porn industry as a teen. The “butterfly effect” from free porn is what Ronson is interested in and his reporting is neither salacious nor censorious.
The Longest Shortest Time
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This is the parenting show for people who don’t listen to parenting shows. Hillary Frank hosts this, er, frank and honest portrayal of modern parenthood. She regularly tackles the struggles, the tribulations, the unexpected changes and the moments of joy that come along with a new tiny human.
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Generally spanning 30 minutes or less, Criminal is a true-crime podcast that fits perfectly with a morning commute. Hosted by Phoebe Judge, the show looks at intriguing cases, charismatic criminals and nefarious felonies, both contemporary and historic. Its tagline is, “Stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged or gotten caught somewhere in the middle”. Case in point: the latest ep, which documents the story of two men who escaped Alcatraz in 1962 and the US Marshal who is still trying to find them.