Best podcasts of the week: Philippa Gregory celebrates everyday women who changed the world

In this week’s newsletter: From Greenham Common protestors to Spitfire pilots, the author celebrates history’s unsung female heroes in Normal Women. Plus: five podcasts that actually solved crimes

Picks of the week

Philippa Gregory’s Normal Women
Widely available, episodes weekly

Philippa Gregory puts previously invisible women at the centre of history, with contributions from Louise Casey and Geri Halliwell-Horner. It shines a light on the women who flew Spitfires, built ships and campaigned for their rights. The first episode, expertly told, looks at the brave women who sparked riots for all the right reasons, from the Peasants’ Revolt through Greenham Common to the vigil for Sarah Everard. Hannah Verdier

The Geopolitics of Business
Widely available, episodes weekly
As the world’s landscape wobbles, so too do economies, which is the focus of the new podcast by Sam Gyimah (pictured below). How do shifting power plates affect markets and investments – and how do governments handle it? Former CEO of BP Lord John Browne weighs in on the climate crisis, while Michael Heseltine analyses how the British economy is faring after Brexit. HV

The Kids of Rutherford County
Widely available, episodes weekly
For over a decade, hundreds, maybe thousands, of children were arrested and illegally jailed. This four-parter uncovers the story of a police force in Rutherford County, Tennessee, that arrested and illegally jailed children as young as seven for minor misdemeanours. HV

Hot Money
Widely available, episodes weekly
After an award-winning first series that saw the Financial Times’s Patricia Nilsson and Alex Barker investigate the world of porn, Hot Money is back and about to get dirtier with a deep dive into cocaine. The starting point is a Dubai wedding where drug barons who service Europe are gathered, and no stone is left unturned in following their trail. HV

Death of a Codebreaker
BBC Sounds, from Tuesday
In 2010, Gareth Williams – a Welsh maths genius who worked as a codebreaker for GCHQ, MI6 and the intelligence services – was found dead inside a fingerprint-free bag in his London flat’s bathtub. In this forensic six-part podcast, Dr Sian Williams unpicks the unsolved case, but will she be able to get any real answers? Hollie Richardson

There’s a podcast for that

This week, Robyn Vinter chooses five of the best podcasts that actually solved crimes, from a podcast that delivered justice for a missing teenager to the unmasking of an online paedophile network

Hunting Warhead
This masterful Canadian-Norwegian podcast is as haunting and thoroughly gripping as they come. Years in the making, the CBC co-production with the newspaper VG, attempts to track down and identify “Warhead”, the mastermind of the largest global paedophile network on the dark web. But not everything is as it seems. Somewhere in the middle, undercover journalists bump into undercover cops and the podcast takes a turn, showing the grim (and sometimes morally complicated) but necessary work carried out by those tasked with investigating this type of crime. It is a twisty ride containing heartbreaking human moments and culminating in a satisfying ending that leaves no loose ends untied.

Bear Brook
This quality investigation begins less as a whodunnit and more as a “who are they”, looking at the case of a woman and three girls whose remains were found in sealed oil drums in Bear Brook, New Hampshire, US. The bodies, dating back to the late 70s or early 80s, belong to unknown victims – who had tragically never been reported missing. Highly focussed on the detail of forensics and genealogy, Bear Brook sensitively puts together the pieces with the help of experts in those fields. By the end of the podcast, we know not only who those victims are but who carried out the savage murders.

Proof. is a podcast that is not about getting justice for a victim, instead looking at those convicted, in this case for the 1996 shooting of Brian Bowling. The dead 15-year-old’s family believed his best friend, Josh Storey, conspired with a second teen named Lee Clark to murder Bowling, and both were serving prison sentences for murder at the start of the podcast. By the end, everything is turned on its head.

Your Own Backyard
Podcaster Chris Lambert had spent a large part of his life passing a billboard in his hometown featuring the image of Kristin Smart, a 19-year-old woman who went missing in 1996. A musician and sound engineer, Lambert was not the most likely true crime podcaster, and an even less likely detective, but the absence of justice had bothered him enough to make a remarkable documentary that would go on to solve the crime. His persistence with a case that had long since run cold and his real life connections with people in the town led to the conviction of a man for Smart’s murder earlier this year.skip past newsletter promotion

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Bible John: Creation of a Serial Killer
The haunting figure of the mysterious Bible John, a serial killer who slaughtered three women in the late 60s, is still lingering over the city of Glasgow. This absorbing and atmospheric podcast is hosted by journalist Audrey Gillan, who first covered the murders in 1996 when the body of a man was exhumed to determine whether his DNA matched that of the murderous spectre. Gillan picks up where she left off in the 90s, this time examining the culture of misogyny that likely caused key information to be covered up. Evidence uncovered in his BBC Scotland podcast led to a recent reopening of the case, with the sense there may be still some long overdue restitution for the families of the women.

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Written by T. Miller

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