Culture

Culture

The good, the bad and the ugly in books, exhibitions, cinema, TV, dance, music, podcasts and theatre.

A wonderfully unguarded podcast about the last bohemians

Radio

Ordinarily, if a podcast purports to be revelatory, you can assume it is anything but. There’s a glut of programmes at the moment featuring interviewer and interviewee locked in passionate heart-to-hearts in which a few, carefully selected beans are spilled to no real consequence or effect. The Last Bohemians makes no claim to shatter the

Why we drink

Radio

‘I like to have a martini,/ Two at the very most./ After three I’m under the table,/ After four I’m under my host.’ I never fully appreciated the brilliance of that spurious quote of Dorothy Parker until I visited Dukes Bar in Mayfair. It used to be the case – it probably still is –

If you like First Dates, you’ll love This is Dating

Radio

The tagline of This is Dating, a new podcast from across the pond, is ‘Come for the cringe, stay for the connection.’ This sums up the listening experience pretty well. If the prospect of eavesdropping on a series of strangers’ first dates sends a shiver down your spine (some of us have endured enough disastrous

The dark world of illness influencers

Radio

I have heartburn. I probably have heartburn simply because both my parents also had a lot of heartburn, and I have treated it the same way they treated it, with antacids. But lately, with all the sleep disruption and discomfort, I tried to get rid of my heartburn and regretted it. I didn’t talk to

The best podcasts about dying, or almost dying

Radio

If there’s any form of entertainment that I will reliably find time for, no matter how big the to-read pile or how long the to-do list, it is the dying-on-an-adventure true story. I have yet to watch about half the films being called the best of the year, but I am devouring documentaries about hikers

Radio 4’s Moominland Midwinter restores Moomintroll’s innocence

Radio

Moomins do not like winter. In one of Tove Jansson’s stories, Moomin’s Winter Follies, young Moomintroll bumps his head when the sea ‘goes hard’, prompting Moominmamma and Moominpappa to hurry the family into hibernation. They attempt to follow the tradition of their ancestors by scoffing pine needles and covering the furniture in dust sheets before

When will the Nineties revival end?

Radio

We’ve been living through a nostalgia for the 1990s that has lasted longer than the decade itself. That was back when music was cool, the only Batman movie wasn’t a fascistic fantasy of surveillance and control, and dresses over jeans looked good. Podcasts and documentary series have really dug into the decade to reinvestigate and

The best podcasts about money

Radio

Stories about money are never about money. They are about pain, about family, about atrocity, about luck, about health, about politics. And while we get a kind of vicarious thrill from listening to other people’s financial tales of woe, whether we are morally condemning a millennial for buying a daily flat white when she could

The genius of Caveh Zahedi

Radio

365 Stories I Want To Tell You Before We Both Die is a podcast that experimental filmmaker Caveh Zahedi started at the beginning of this year. Each episode is a short story, ranging from six minutes to 30 seconds, told directly to the audience. Zahedi has been a quiet star of the American indie scene

The best podcasts to help you become a better painter

Radio

There’s a great documentary film on Netflix at the moment about the late artist Bob Ross, he of the happy little trees and friendly perm, and the battles fought over his estate. It coincides with the revival on BBC4 of his Joy of Painting TV programmes, which originally aired in the US between 1983 and

The best podcasts where girls sit around talking about ghosts

Radio

‘I’ve actually seen ghosts.’ This statement comes less than ten minutes into the first episode of Dark House, a limited-series podcast about ghosts, houses and interior decoration from House Beautiful magazine. And this is the moment, I assume, a certain number of people roll their eyes and switch over to the next podcast in their

How the good intentions of Title IX ended up punishing the innocent

Radio

How do we have difficult conversations? Especially in an age of polarisation, where everything is immediately politicised? But also where calls for ‘nuance’ and ‘complication’ are sometimes used to justify what is really just bigotry. Is it possible to be both protective of the vulnerable and to allow for a larger pursuit of justice and

Must all history programming be ‘relevant’?

Radio

When it comes to history programming, television’s loss is increasingly audio’s gain. People moan to me most weeks over the lack of really good, rigorous, eye-opening documentaries on the screen, and I can only nod along in agreement. Oh for a Kenneth Clark-style lecture! More Michael Wood! There’s an especially strong appetite for the adventurous