Il women’s Euros are starting on Wednesday! I’m not about to start a Mexican wave, but it is exciting. Lots of football being played by lots of women, in stadiums from Wembley to that of, un, Rotherham United FC.
The why-not-bigger? stadium question was discussed with clarity and balance early in the first Euro 2022 episode of Upfront, the longstanding women’s football show from Football Ramble, which recently celebrated its 15th birthday. It had reason to twirl a few rattles. Having started as a kitchen-based podcast, it’s now one of the world’s biggest independent football brands, with an occasional live theatre show and a number of spin-off series, Upfront being one. All are worth a listen, though I’d prefer it if each podcast had its own feed. Trying to find what you’re looking for among all the different Ramble-ings can be tricky. And some of us are only here for the women.
Comunque, Upfront hosts Flo Lloyd-Hughes, Rachel O’Sullivan and Chloe Morgan are entertaining and informed company with a great rapport. Lloyd-Hughes is the mad enthusiast (be warned, if listening with kids, she drops the F-word in her opener for the Euro guide), O’Sullivan the well-researched fact-monger (she also runs the Girls on the Ball sito web), while Morgan, goalie for Crystal Palace women, brings the pro’s eye. All know what they’re talking about, making you enthusiastic even when you’re not completely across the details of what they’re discussing.
Personally – and I feel this when England’s men play football, too – I could do without the “it’s coming home” nonsense, but madly over-pumped, nationalist hype aside, I loved the analysis of the different teams, the chat about whether friendlies are important or how much a team spirit matters (let’s all give French coach Corinne Diacre some side-eye about that one). Calcio, like all cultural pursuits, is endlessly fascinating when unpicked and explained by people who know what they’re talking about. Upfront will be out three times a week during the tournament, with a special podcast released immediately after every England game. And if that’s not enough for you, il Custode is launching a weekly podcast hosted by broadcaster Faye Carruthers and their excellent football writer Suzanne Wrack; 5 live and BBC Sounds are providing match commentary and a daily podcast; and TalkSport (featuring Lloyd-Hughes) will also be all over everything.
Perhaps such footie chatter is your idea of audio hell? If so, let me recommend this week’s Between the Ears, su Radio 3 tomorrow. In the Footsteps of Beryl the Boot is a listening delight, Amazon ha affermato di aver risolto il problema, as it does, the story of Beryl Mortimer, expert foley artist for numerous British films between the 1950s and 90s, Compreso Lawrence of Arabia, 2001: A Space Odyssey, several Bond films and Welcome to Sarajevo. A foley artist is the technician who recreates the accompanying sound effects for a film, from the swish of a fancy coat to a camel chomping on its lunch. Beryl was, it was agreed, the original and best.
Wonderful production by Falling Tree’s Hannah Dean combines archive with new interviews, and takes exceptional, and highly appropriate, care over the sound. As a side note, Falling Tree productions also made three recent Afterwords for Radio 3, su Muriel Spark, Chinua Achebe e Thich Nhat Hanh. More traditional than a Between the Ears soundscape, these were also excellent programmes, providing a full and nuanced portrait of each of these interesting, unique writers.
Oh look, here’s another investigative podcast series! BBC Scotland’s Good Ship Brewdog sees journalist Mark Daly take an in-depth, six-episode look at Brewdog, the world-beating Scottish beer company that sprang into being in 2007. Daly has already made a Disclosure documentary for the BBC about the company, which prides itself on making good quality craft beer and in shaking up the drinks establishment while doing so, through stunts such as putting bottles inside stuffed squirrels. An impressive amount of interviewees – bar staff, brewers, marketing types, drinks journalists, punters who have bought shares – come on to the podcast to say the same thing: they loved the idea of Brewdog but then found themselves upset by its PR lies and treatment of staff, especially the behaviour of co-founder James Watt. “The single biggest shared experience of former staff is a residual feeling of fear,” reported a 2021 open letter from more than 100 former employees. Interestingly, those who speak on record to Daly start receiving troubling phone calls and what they interpreted as legal threats…
We’ve all met people like Watt: as soon as you hear the phrase “it was a bit like being in a cult”, you know where you are. Any company that boasts AGMs or away-days where the chief executive is worshipped like a demigod in pre-washed jeans is always heading for a fall. And later, these days, an interesting, bingeable podcast. Cheers!