Best Of The Week

Point Of Origin

Episode: “Is Your DNA You?” | Podcast: Sapiens | 39m31s

At-home DNA test kits are now popular and widely available, sold to the public on the promise of revelations about ancestry and family history. But how do they work and what do they tell us about ourselves? Three anthropologists here send off their swabs and then track the process through to the results and beyond, interrogating assumptions and statistics along the way. Of particular interest is the discussion around the history of genome capture for Native American and indigenous people, as well as the section pointing out flaws in the precise ethnic origin percentages these tests try to deliver (39m31s)


Deep Dish

Episode: “Episode 14” | Podcast: Whatever Happened To Pizza At McDonald’s | 9m03s

Comedy podcast with a laser-like focus on a single issue: why doesn’t McDonald’s serve pizza anymore, and what was it like when they (briefly) did? Here, frustrated, host Brian Thompson takes his deadpan questions and extremely slow note-taking techniques to a prayer line, having received no satisfactory answers in previous episodes from more terrestrial outlets. Yet the operator is surprisingly thoughtful and patient. They discuss the prophecies that foresaw Donald Trump and debate why Jesus might be interested in Brian’s quest before getting down to the prayer. A surreal and earnest bit of humour (9m03s)


Skin And Bone

Episode: “Host's Fat” | Podcast: Meat | 37m46s

Exquisitely sound designed personal essay by Italian producer Jonathan Zenti about his relationship with his overweight body. He has long struggled with his size, but not for the usual or expected reasons. He is perfectly healthy and happy in his life, other than when he feels hurt by others’ prejudices and reactions to his large frame. The piece has strands about food, dieting and exercise, but it also touches on ideas of masculinity and self-worth in ways that feel fresh and surprising. It avoids being worthy or didactic, and is rather wryly amusing about a topic that rarely gets such treatment (37m46s)


Spinning Around

Episode: “A Grenfell Story” | Podcast: Have You Heard George’s Podcast? | 29m07s

Immersive, gorgeously scored drama about the fire that destroyed the Grenfell Tower block of flats in west London in June 2017. It’s written and partly performed by George Mpanga, better known by his stage name of George the Poet, who infuses the story with subtle inflections and rhymes more familiar in blank verse and spoken word poetry. The narrative pacing and the heavy silences at crucial moments reveal how painstakingly and carefully it was put together. It’s a clever, brilliantly-made homage to black British life and culture, but it’s also a moving memorial to the people who perished in the blaze (29m07s)


Bang Bang

Episode: “A Whiff of Grapeshot” | Podcast: Paname | 15m25s

Charmingly-presented history of the Église Saint-Roch in Paris. It is the burial place of the philosopher Diderot and the site of the Marquis de Sade’s marriage. The building itself was scarred by the French Revolution, when it was the site of the 13 Vendémiaire battle between revolutionary troops and Royalist rebels. It also played a pivotal part in the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, who as a young general led the Republic to a surprise victory at the church despite their forces being vastly outnumbered. His strategic use of cannon loaded with grapeshot during the fight was supposedly admired by Thomas Carlyle (15m25s)