Best podcasts of the week: paranoia and espionage in the tobacco industry

·4 min read
<span>Photograph: Christian Bruna/EPA</span>
Photograph: Christian Bruna/EPA

Picks of the week

Smoke Screen
“The first day that we’d met, she revealed that she had been assigned to infiltrate me as a spy.” So begins an intriguing new series on double-crossing, espionage and paranoia within the tobacco industry from pod producers Auddy and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Beginning in 2013, we meet lawyer Belinda, working on behalf of small tobacco companies in South Africa while keeping tabs for industry giants British American Tobacco. Just what was she doing? Hannah J Davies

Sorted with the Dyers (from 29 Sep)

Keeping it in the family ... Sorted with the Dyers hosts Danny and Dani Dyer.
Keeping it in the family ... Sorted with the Dyers hosts Danny and Dani Dyer. Photograph: WENN Rights Ltd/Alamy

More family fun with self-styled hardman turned EastEnder Danny Dyer and his former Love Island contestant daughter and “mumfluencer” Dani (right). Sorting listener dilemmas while drawing on their own life experiences, the Dyers consider relationship woes, strained friendships and more. Resistance is futile. HJD

The Line-Up with Shaun Keaveny
Although the premise of Shaun Keaveny’s gem of a podcast is to invite his guests to pick their five top festival acts, he delivers so much more. The celebrity stories flow, tempered by Keaveny’s trademark humour and willingness to listen. Imagine Dragons’s Dan Reynolds is first up. Hannah Verdier

American Vigilante
Is a man who will kill to save abducted children a hero or a monster? Ex-BBC presenter Sam Walker spent hours with assassin “KC” to find the answer. The complicated character pulls no punches talking about his deadly work. The moment when he turns the tables, asking Walker whether she’d hire him if one of her children were missing. HV

33 1/3
The excellent music book series branches out into podcasting as legendary producer Prince Paul hosts roundtable chats about storied albums. Nice and eclectic so far, with Guns N’ Roses Use Your Illusion and Steely Dan’s Aja the first two albums under discussion. Phil Harrison

Producer pick: Windfall

Wind of change ... Windfall looks at changes in the way we make energy.
Wind of change ... Windfall looks at changes in the way we make energy. Photograph: Lee Celano/EPA

Chosen by Madeleine Finlay

Recently, I started listening to a podcast called Windfall from Outside/In, on wind turbines in the US.The premise, frankly, does sound a bit dull, and I thought it might be dry. But with the UK’s energy crisis throwing our need for more renewable energy sources into stark relief, it felt like an important listen.

As I’m recommending it now, you can probably guess that it wasn’t boring. Indeed, if you thought America’s wind story amounted to self-proclaimed world-expert Donald Trump rambling about windmills and bird graveyards, think again.

Windfall does a great job in taking a complicated and technical topic and humanising it, bringing in an array of characters along the way, from politicians to divers and indigenous leaders. The presenters, Sam Evans-Brown and Annie Ropeik, also do a good job of keeping the momentum going, and appear genuinely fascinated by the subject matter. And who knew I’d suddenly care about jack-up barges and Rhode Island’s calamari comeback?

The first episode covers the wind turbine origin story, meeting Henrik Stiesdal - who came up with one of the first designs that could be industrialised and scaled up. You also hear how rapidly wind turbines have evolved, both physically and as an energy source. Across the series there’s an exploration of the different forces influencing how, where and when wind turbines get built, and by who – the heavy involvement of oil companies is a particularly intriguing subject.

Talking points

  • For those looking to better understand current events in Afghanistan, a number of podcasts have attempted to contextualise and explain recent developments. NPR’s miniseries Throughline: Afghanistan, The Centre of the World is an ambitious look at the country’s history, while the BBC’s A Wish For Afghanistan sees Lyse Doucet speak to 10 Afghan people about their hopes for the future.

  • Why not try: The Assurance podcast | Why Do I Feel? | The Fault Line

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