Image Credit: Spotify Studios
I first started listening to podcasts in Year 13, when my politics teacher told us we needed to do some extra reading or else we were going to fail, because “A-levels are a completely different ball game to GCSEs!” Panicking, I downloaded every news podcast I could find, and spent weeks trying to enjoy listening to monotone journalists talking about the Houses of Parliament. For a long time, this shaped my impression of what a podcast was, and as soon as I finished my A-levels (passing without ever taking an extra book out of the library), I consigned podcasts to my past.
Then lockdown happened. I began to hear people talking about podcasts, and I realised there could well be something out there which might entertain me on my adventures around the fields. I dipped my toes into a few, and I started to understand the podcast hype, but none of them ever really stuck. I still preferred listening to my summer indie playlist instead of cracking out the podcast chatter.
However, one thing I did get into was The Crown. Like many people, I have been an avid watcher of the Netflix original, and as soon as the recent series was released I binged it. I’ve always been intrigued by Princess Diana, and I finished the show desperate for more Lady Di content. I ordered some bicycle shorts (to recreate her iconic streetwear looks), I followed @ladydirevengelooks on Instagram, and I watched all of the Diana documentaries on Netflix. I came away with a slightly rose-tinted idea of Diana; all my knowledge of her came from a rather biased and dramatised version of events. I even tried to buy a Diana fan t-shirt from Etsy but my mum said it was too much money.
My friend recommended that I listened to You’re Wrong About, a podcast which had done a five-part series on Princess Diana. I was instantly hooked.
The podcast format is fairly simple. It is hosted by two American journalists called Mike and Sarah, who use every episode to look at an event or person in history which has been remembered in a certain way – usually in a way that avoids the real truth. One of them has done a lot of research into the topic, reading books and interviewing experts, and uses the episode to explain what really happened to the other host.
I am always wary of podcasts that try to ‘educate’. After my difficult start on the podcast journey, I like my listening to be light and funny – if I'm listening to a podcast, I don’t want it to be hard work! And that is exactly where You’re Wrong About excels. The hosts have great chemistry and I’ll often be walking along the street laughing to myself at their witty sarcasm and derision. The topics are varied, and although often catered towards an American audience; so usually covering controversies better known across the pond, they still dive into some interesting ideas. Topics broached include the first Black Miss America, to Shannon Faulkner, a girl who tricked the admissions department of a mens-only military college to grant her a place, to the Stonewall riots. Each episode introduces things at a pace easy to keep up with, and even though I have often never heard of these dramas, I come away from the episode with a newfound interest and understanding, without it feeling like a challenge.
But if you only listen to a few episodes of this podcast, make it the Princess Diana ones. These five chapters were truly what brought me into my newfound podcast love. I started listening at every opportunity. I would wake up, and before I even checked my Instagram, I would have You’re Wrong About playing. I would go on extra walks, just to fit in another 30 minutes of listening. Finally, my Diana obsession could accompany me on my daily exercise.
The episodes take a chronological, and detailed approach to Diana’s life – right from childhood, to after her tragic death. Having watched the very pro-Diana series of The Crown, I was grateful for the podcast for giving me a more balanced view on her life. Nobody is perfect, however hard the Princess Di Facebook fan groups want to try and pretend, and Mike and Sarah helped me realise that, by using multitudes of sources and not bypassing the slightly more uncomfortable moments of Diana’s story. Accompanying each episode is a catalogue of photos used during the discussions, and episodes include real sound recordings of interviews from the time. There is not a stone unturned but, once again, listening to it never feels like a chore.
For anyone interested in Diana or the Royal Family, particularly in the current tense times, I cannot recommend this series highly enough. It’s funny, it’s real and it’s the perfect soundtrack to your summer walks.