Audio drama

Made me buzz like an electron: Science – Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda reviewed

Given my affection for M*A*S*H, I can’t think why I haven’t listened to Alan Alda’s podcasts before now, besides the fact that they look quite uninviting. There is Clear+Vivid, on the power of communication, and Science: Clear+Vivid, on the power of scientific research. As someone who used to fall asleep listening to cassettes for A-Level physics, I am not easily excited by protons, and was prepared to give the latter particularly short shrift. Five hours on, however, Alda is still in my ears, and I am buzzing like an electron. Unlike many presenters, Alda, 85, doesn’t pretend not to know something just so that his interviewee will explain it to

Tacky and incomprehensible: The Sandman audiobook reviewed

Listening to the tacky and incomprehensible audio-adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s graphic novel series Sandman, I couldn’t stop thinking about the 19th-century Swiss artist Rodolphe Töppfer. Did Mr Töppfer realise what he was doing when he one day decided to draw a narrative in sequential panels with captions underneath? His satirical novel in pictures, Histoire de M. Vieux Bois, was published in 1837, and made its way to America five years later as The Adventures of Mr Obadiah Oldbuck. ‘Mr Oldbuck drinks ass’s milk’ reads one caption, and then overleaf: ‘His physician recommending exercise, he buys an Arabian courser.’ Riding the courser, ‘Mr Oldbuck increases his speed, advancing at the rate

Why haven’t podcasts cracked the recipe for audio drama?

In Beeb-dominated Britain, the commercial triumph of podcasting — epitomised by Spotify’s recent £100 million deals with Joe Rogan and Kim Kardashian — is held up as proof of the complacency of the radio establishment. Freed from the constraints of box-ticking commissioners, wily podcasters have been able to steal a march on Broadcasting House by giving audiences what they actually want. Or so runs the theory. But I can’t help thinking there’s one large slice of legacy radio territory the podcasters haven’t taken yet. And that’s the good old-fashioned audio drama. Not the most fashionable genre right now admittedly, but an important one nonetheless. Few 20th-century broadcasts, after all, are