The week in audio: Becoming better; False Paralympians; Horrible Stories Podcast | Radio

Get better Audible
False Paralympians BBC World Service | BBC sounds
Horrible Stories Podcast BBC sounds

Winston Churchill’s “relaxation” with his prostate isn’t what you would expect, so to speak, in the opening minutes of an ambitious new Audible series. But there, the newly ousted PM, played by Wink Taylor, pees with abandon alongside his successor, Clement Attlee (Mike Wozniak), while giving advice on who to choose for his cabinet as Britain emerges from the war. “I woke up once with pneumonia – the new is not always a blessing, because I’m afraid the country is about to find out!” “

Get better talks about the founding of the NHS, a story that took place under optimal conditions for drama: in the dispersing smoke of post-WWII Britain, and between men in possession of perfectly polished vowels and a bad boy from the booming valleys of the shipping box. Aneurin Bevan was the youngest member of Clement Attlee’s post-war cabinet at 47, known as much for his rebellious charisma as his socialist chops. Bevan is the solid anchor of this 10-part podcast.

“Her childbirth is often delicious”: Rhod Gilbert. Photography: Rob Parfittb

The stand-up comedian and regular on television board games Rhod Gilbert, in his first role as a serious actor, plays him. For reasons related to my inevitable Welsh I was initially skeptical of the casting – an rrr-rolling accent and stardom shouldn’t be enough to win the plum roles, I cursed the Monmouthshire Hills, one of the areas covered by the appropriate name of Gwent University Health Board Aneurin Bevan.

But I raise my hand: Gilbert’s casting is inspired. If you’re already familiar with his comedic style, you’ll feel echoes of the dry humor and warmth he exudes when featuring characters like Do i have news for you. Its delivery is also often delicious. “Win it? He said of Bevan’s party colleague and opponent Herbert Morrison. “I want Course him more. Subsequent episodes delve into Bevan’s past, which avoids the risk of him turning into a bombastic caricature. There’s a flashback to a childhood stutter in episode two, and hints of his wandering eye (listen to Neve McIntosh, playing his wife, Scottish MP Jennie Lee, and his pretty wasp tone).

But the show isn’t just about one man. A subplot focusing on an unexploded mortar bomb in Manchester and the arrival of Dr Eva Callaway (played by Bridgerton‘s Kathryn Drysdale) highlights the pressures poor people face when sudden accidents or illnesses strike them. At times this narrative feels like a heavy parallel (the Callaway lines of neighborhoods often mirroring the ones Bevan throws at Parliament), but at least it articulates the need for universal health care in crude, brutal terms. Better are the lines that subtly refer to things happening today: politicians with “big ideas”; people are slamming boxes to collect money for nurses; the Labor government is arguing with itself. It is a powerful reminder that things can change.

I also had to remember that this was an Audible production, not Aunt Beeb. In a year when Steve McQueen’s incredible films exploring social history and cruel injustice are staple in prime time, Get better could be stepped up into a perfect Sunday night TV drama.

In terms of public service remit, the BBC’s new World Service series False Paralympians makes a solid contribution to the cause. Released last week in the run-up to the Paralympic Games, it tells the story of the Spanish basketball team that won gold in the intellectual disabilities category at Sydney 2000 – the first time this classification has been included – before being exposed as having fraudulent members. in their ranks.

Presented by the Paralympic swimmer Dan Pepper, it’s a documentary that burns slowly and rages quietly. Pepper was 11 in 2000, a young boy from Stockport finding strength, joy and escape in the pool, a world away from bullies mocking him for his learning disabilities, with a trainer who thought he could compete in Athens in 2004. Ray Torres, whom Pepper interviews, had felt the same about sports as a child, basketball becoming a friend who did not hit or insult him. “This stuff doesn’t go away,” Torres says of the abuse he suffered.

Dan Pepper, left, with Ray Torres.
Dan Pepper, left, with Ray Torres. Photograph: BBC / Simon Maybin

In 2000, Torres was the Spain captain, trying to dispel suspicion about members of his team standing away from him. When the scandal erupts – after some faces were recognized in a photograph of the medalists in the Spanish press – its devastation is palpable. The impacts are also wide, with the category of intellectual disabilities being withdrawn for the next two Games by the International Paralympic Committee, penalizing the career chances of real athletes as well as hopeful young people like Pepper. He speaks fondly of those lost years that never come back, and the production is handled sensitively, experts, athletes and family members weaving the story together unhurriedly, without sensationalism.

On a final public service tip, the BBC also released a podcast spin-off of the Horrible stories TV series in the last weeks of the school holidays. Have been saved! By “we” I mean parents of young children, of course, not the children themselves (I was once at a party where all the adults were in the living room watching Charles Dickens singing the story of his life on a pastiche of the Smiths while the children were playing Lego elsewhere). There are 10 16-minute shows here, including one where Henry VIII interviews Anne of Cleves, who teases him about his lack of physical prowess. “Fake news! He growls, before ordering porpoise for lunch.

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