From S-Town to Crimetown: 10 of the best gripping podcast yarns | Television & radio

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Immersive long-form audio you can lose yourself in, telling tales of alleged murders and cryptocurrency scams. Intrigue: Tunnel 29 10 episodes
More time at home means more time to get lost in engrossing podcasts, such as this one from Helena Merriman. Released to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, it centres on a young German, Joachim Rudolph, who escaped East Berlin as the city was partitioned … before tunnelling back to help others flee, despite the threat of death. Brilliant, claustrophobic storytelling.
The Other Latif Six episodes
Latif Nasser, a producer with the hit WNYC series Radiolab, helms this personal take on true crime. He explores the life of his only US namesake: an inmate at Guantánamo Bay. Despite spending 18 years in the infamous detention camp, could “the other Latif” in fact be innocent? A thoroughly absorbing investigation ensues.
Love + Radio Eight seasons, ongoing
Nick van der Kolk’s series serves up an array of true stories common only in their singularity. From memories of a near-death experience (Coming Back) to the intrigue of neighbours who never shut their curtains (The Living Room) and the story of a very unconventional throuple (A Girl of Ivory), the US smash is full of surprising twists.
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Eight episodes
Jamie Bartlett and Georgia Catt’s 2019 series saw the journalist and producer attempt to track down cryptocurrency doyenne Dr Ruja Ignatova, who had implored ordinary people to invest in her firm before vanishing. Combining the most audacious of protagonists in the form of Ignatova with Bartlett and Catt’s top sleuthing, Cryptoqueen keeps you guessing to the end.
Hunting Warhead Six episodes
With themes of childhood sexual abuse and exploitation, Hunting Warhead requires definite listener discretion. A co-production from the Canadian broadcaster CBC and Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang, it tells the tale of police and media efforts to bring a gang of dark web paedophiles to justice, contrasting the darkest of chapters with major breakthroughs.
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Seven episodes
QCODE’s immersive fiction podcast is part of a recent wave of not-quite-audiobooks designed to pull you further into the tale at hand. The Tony, Grammy and Emmy award winner Cynthia Erivo helps Carrier to rise above the surfeit, starring as a truck driver tasked with ferrying a mysterious cargo along a lonely highway.
The Memory Palace 165 episodes, ongoing
Nate DiMeo’s bitesized storytelling show offers windows into largely untold chapters of the past, from the case of Wong Kim Ark – who altered US immigration laws for ever – to the history of the oldest gay bar in America, The White Horse in Oakland, California. Smart, moving and consistently looking to the most unexpected of places.
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Uncivil society … white supremacists in Charlottesville. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Uncivil
13 episodes
Gimlet’s 2017 show – hosted by the US journalists Chenjerai Kumanyika and Jack Hitt – offers a prescient review of American history. Hooking listeners in with its evocative tales – and an early parallel with the protests of Charlottesville white supremacists and the not-so-distant world of slavery – it is the perfect antidote to the blatant rewritings of history that abound.
Crimetown Two seasons
From the team behind HBO’s jaw-dropping miniseries The Jinx, about the real estate baron and suspected murderer Robert Durst, Crimetown lasers in on the effects of – you guessed it – organised crime on different American cities. Spin-off series The Ballad of Billy Balls, about the death of a punk musician, is equally forensic.
S-Town Seven episodes
Among the best shows of 2017 and beyond, S-Town saw This American Life’s Brian Reed delve into an alleged murder – and much more besides – in Woodstock, Alabama. While the central tale of world-weary horologist John McLemore has clear ethical deficits, few podcasts have delved this deep into the human condition.
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