Wakefield – ABC TV (yes a tv show!)
I know I’m breaking the rules here – this is strictly a listening list. The reason I’m allowing myself to include this tv show is because of its excellent sound design that contributes greatly to the smart, careful, considered and sometimes weird storytelling (there’s lots of spontaneous song and some tap dancing). The show is set in a psychiatric hospital in the Blue Mountains. The stories of the patients and nurses are told in a straightforward way that shows that mental ill-health can happen to anyone. The central character is one of the nurses, whose own mental health is deteriorating as he helps his patients get better. Stylistic flourishes blur the lines between reality, dreams, hallucination, mania and the sound design is key in making this all land.
In case I haven’t sold it to you, I’m calling this as my top TV show of 2021 and it’s only May. So watch it.
And more importantly, listen.
Deeply Human – BBC World Service/APM
Why do you do the things you do? This podcast looks at a bunch of the weird thoughts/feelings/behaviours of the strangest of creatures, humans. Explanations are uncovered in psychology, biology, anthropology and plenty of personal anecdote with a smart, genuine and natural host named Dessa. She’s not someone I was familiar with before this show but it seems like she might be a bit of a celebrity? Please do drop me a line and school me if this is embarrassing ignorance on my part. As much as I object to the podcasts format of helicoptered-in celeb host, it seems like Dessa is personally invested in this show, and has done a lot of the work herself. It’s enjoyable, and enlightening, and there’s zero wank here. This show is not trying to push the limits of audio storytelling or revolutionise podcasting and we could do with more new shows like this.
This show is described a BBC World Service and American Public Media coproduction with iHeartMedia. I’d love to know how this partnership was made and what that means in terms of funding, production, distribution and IP.