Best podcasts of the week: Inside the tragic life story of Koko the celebrity gorilla | Podcasts

selection 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 monkey” end his life overweight, depressed and “a gorilla’s shell”? Lauren Ober asks how being stuck with one foot in the human world affected Koko, from being given laxatives to being charged with sexual molestation because of her fascination with nipples.
Hannah Verdeer

corked
Apple Podcasts, episodes weekly

True crime meets winemaking in this comedy podcast in which Anthony Gioe plays a public radio host dispatched to the Napa Valley on the trail of con artist Lyle Le Monde. “Stop asking questions, candy tit,” warns a local in one of several threatening letters, but in true crime genre tradition, the host remains undeterred as he questions tattoo artists about the small-town murder. HV

Glittering turd
Widespread as of Tuesday

As someone who has been living with stage four cancer since the age of 23, CoppaFeel! Founder Kris Hallenga knows a thing or two about making the best of a tough situation, and she’s bringing 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
Widespread, episodes weekly

The true crime podcast, set in 1970s Pakistan, begins its second season with the trial of Shahnaz Gul, accused of killing disgraced bureaucrat Mustafa Zaidi. Brilliantly garrulous journalists Saba Imtiaz and Tooba Masood-Khan uncover major parties, societal issues and a connection to Christine Keeler as they dig into “Pakistan’s first jet set murder”. HV

Who was Michael X?
BBC sounds

This immersive podcast tells the fascinating story of Trinidadian and Tobago native Michael de Freitas who grew up in 1960’s London to become Black Power leader Michael X. Hamza Salmi returns to his beginnings, speaking to experts and using dramatized excerpts to bring the activist’s story to life. Hollie Richardson

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There’s a podcast for that

Nina Wadia, guest on sex podcast Brown Girls Do It Too.
Nina Wadia, guest on sex podcast Brown Girls Do It Too. Photo: Comic Relief/PA

From an open look at microaggression to a podcast that breaks the taboos of sex talk, Sadia Nowshin picks five of the best podcasts the British Asian experience.

Brown girls do it too
With an openness that would make some South Asian aunties swoon in disbelief, best friends Rubina and Poppy tackle what might be the biggest taboo of Asian women: sex. Discussing everything from toys and BDSM to the internalized instinct to judge others and the pressures of identity, the duo shed light on the experience of being and speaking out about being sexually active, despite their cultures’ disapproval. They are joined by a dynamic cast of British-Asian women – including actress Nina Wadia and author Sadia Azmat – who are equally open to “doing it too” and keen to shock the community in the name of greater understanding.

But where do you come from?
Prepared by besea.n (UK’s East & South East Asian network), But Where Are You From? seeks to clearly highlight the lived reality of these communities in Britain. Blending utterly candid discussions of discrimination, identity, and childhood trauma with light-hearted and personal conversations, each episode is rooted in the micro-aggression of the title; Guests discuss how aspects of their cultural identity relate to, or are being transformed by, the experience of identifying as British in a society that constantly questions their legitimacy to do so.

Masala Podcast
What’s it like challenging cultural expectations of gender and sexuality to become Britain’s first Muslim drag queen? In the revealing sixth installment of Masala, the founder of the South Asian feminist network Soul Sutras, Sangeeta Pillai, speaks to Asifa Lahore to find out. This is just one example of how Pillai sensitively focuses on typically taboo subjects; Other important conversations include the culturally enforced silence around periods and survivors living with the stigma of colonial rape. With multiple British Podcast Awards to its name, Masala sums up the issues affecting the lives of British Asian women behind closed doors.

Brown doesn’t frown
After exploring her relationship with mainstream feminism and finding that it excludes women’s experiences in her life, Bangladeshi Brit Tania Sultana Hardcastle from Bangladesh sought to create a platform to diversify who gets to tell her stories. With her mission to reach people beyond cultural stereotypes and to bring underrepresented voices to the fore, she invites guests from different walks of life to speak about their relationships with intersectional feminism and shed light on experiences that have otherwise remained in the shadows. Topics covered include everything from tokenism in the workplace to the gentrification of East London’s Brick Lane.

Funny Sanskrit
“You say follow your gut, and my gut says steak is absolutely sumptuous.” Comedian Raul Kohli picks up the mic to clarify his understanding, relationship, and questions about the Hindu religion of his upbringing. Kohli is open about aspects of his beliefs, whether it’s admitting to a pundit that he tasted beef (which started the joke above) or considering the paradox of identifying as an atheist Hindu. In addition to exploring the world’s oldest religion, the episodes also cover hidden stories. Highlights include a fascinating look at India’s Hijra community, which Kohli points out experimented with gender long before the talks of modern Western society.

Why not try…

  • Surreal schoolyard comedy The Rubber Room starring famous faces like David Cross and Tony Hale from Arrested Development.

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