Month: September 2023

Behind the curtain

True Tales Of The Illuminati review

Rating –

In the last few years, mainly since we were all locked down, people found themselves with a lot of time on their hands. Some learned new skills, some started their dream business and found themselves stress free. Others started doing “research” and discovered that the world is not as we’ve been told.

According to various basement dwelling paranoiac energy drink addicts, the world is being run by a shadowy group known as The Illuminati. This all powerful group has the ability to control global government, start wars and runs all the world’s media. Despite doing this, they are unable to make said “researchers” disappear without a trace, thus keeping their nefarious deeds secret.

So what’s it about?

This is a wry comedy tracing the history of the Illuminati, from its beginnings in ancient Egypt through to the modern day.

It follows the adventures of Ishmael, Jackie, Beck and Dal as they build occult libraries in pyramids, plot against Henry VIII, fake moon landings and buy nuclear weapons. You know, all that stuff that changes the course of history.

It’s unclear in the story whether this foursome are really immortal, or if it’s like Blackadder, where there are different members of the same bloodline doing the same things. Not that it really matters, but I didn’t think about that for a while.

Is it any good?

There were more cons than pros when I started this unfortunately. There are many good, funny, podcasts out there, some of which I absolutely love. This is not one of them though. I had made up my mind by the end of the first episode, but I ploughed on through the whole lot, just in case.

The theme song is a vaudevillian piano “chase” style song that lays the groundwork for the zany style comedy. Unfortunately, this tune is the best part of the show. The characters are irritating, especially Dal, who you get the impression is constantly peering out from a hooded cloak and who chews the scenery with gusto. The storylines are inane and yes, I understand that this is the point, but it got on my nerves almost instantly.

I would place this more in the realm of series 2 of Fear, you may remember it as the curveball story entitled “Black Friday”, rather than other mystery based comedies such as Wormwood or

Like a ten year old at a birthday party, this podcast is hyperactive and thinks it’s funnier than it actually is. Like said hyperactive ten year old, it also doesn’t seem to know what to do next and runs around without any real purpose.

Final thoughts

On paper, this should have been my ideal podcast. As I have mentioned in other podcasts though, simply having the ingredients right doesn’t guarantee a good cuppa. After the first episode I realised that I probably wouldn’t like it, and as they ticked on, my fears were proved right. In the interest of fairness though (established by me in my housekeeping post), I have listened to all ten episodes. In fact, seeing as there were only twelve, I listened to the whole thing. See what I do for you lot?

You might like this, if you do then feel free to call me an idiot/grump/philistine and enjoy the series for what it is. A very silly, rather base comedy.

You can get True Tales Of The Illuminati here:

Uncovering the truth

The Estate review

Production company – Tenderfoot TV

Rating –


I know that the capitalised top line with snazzy asterisk accompaniment usually means a release day review, but not this time. Although as you read this, the first two episodes dropped last Wednesday (September 13th). I also have the third episode on pre-release, but I’m not going to talk about that. It’ll be a nice surprise for you all. But back to the review…

So what’s it about?

New year’s Eve, 1973. Emergency services receive a phone call alerting them to a shooting. When ambulance and police crews arrive they find the 34 year old Anthony Virgilio, still alive, but bleeding heavily. Before he dies, he accuses his business partner Calvin Jones. Calvin is arrested, and sentenced to 30 years in prison for murder.

Rosalio Estrada received weekly phone calls from Jones from prison. He never told his family about his involvement in any wrongdoing, so these calls were extremely mysterious. Whenever his son Alex asks about these calls, the conversation gets shut down, and eventually he stops asking.

After Rosalio dies, Alex really wants to discover the truth behind this mystery. He asks his other family members, but it seems that Rosalio never mentioned it to anyone. Therefore, the only solution is to talk to the one other person who knows the truth. Calvin Jones.

Calvin, now released from prison is a quiet, kind old man. The Rosalio that Jones describes is far from the father that Alex knew. Could it be that guilt over the murder changed Rosalio and made him that cold, distant person Alex knew? Calvin still has all the police files from the investigation and gives them to Alex, and so the search for the truth begins. Just who was responsible for the murder of Anthony Virgilio?

Is it any good?

As I said at the beginning, I’ve heard the first three episodes (you may well have already heard the first two). I must say that it is shaping up to be a great series. This is another example of Tenderfoot TV on top form, and they are quickly becoming my favourite source for true crime podcasts.

As well as the murder mystery, this series exposes the duality of one man’s life. The Rosalio Estrada that Calvin describes is almost unrecognisable to Alex. Why is that? Alex suspects that it is due to feelings of guilt after the conviction, but it must cause some kind of cognitive dissonance to discover that the man he grew up fearing wasn’t really like that (at least according to people who knew him).

I suspect that this one will be a complex take full of twists and turns as the investigation develops. By the end of episode two, you are already wondering which path this investigation is going to take, as more possbilities come to light as to who may have been responsible.

Final thoughts

This review is a little bit shorter than usual, only because I have literally 40 minutes of podcast to review. As such I can’t really give it a 5 right off the bat either. I would absolutely recommend it though, just on what I’ve heard so far. If it carries on the way it’s started, it’ll be a solid five brain show all day long.

Thanks to Mackensie from Beckmedia for giving me the heads up about this, and also hooking me up with episode 3.

You can get The Estate here:

Thoroughly modern Yeti

Yeti review

Production company – BBC

Rating –

People have hunted monsters since the days of “here be dragons” appearing on the edges of maps. I can’t say I blame them, the field of cryptozoology is a fascinating one, depending on your worldview. Of all the strange beasties said to lurk around the world, there are two that surely stand head and shoulders over the rest. This is about the other one (I mean, you can see that from the title).

So what’s it about?

Andrew Benfield has been on a mission for decades. After reading a book about the Yeti (should that be capitalised?), he decided that he was going to be the one to discover it. Since then he has travelled all over the Himalayas in search of the elusive cryptid. The term “Yeti” is far from a catch all term. The area is so vast, and the descriptions are so varied, that if you ask the wrong question you could never find what you’re looking for. Most cases don’t involve giant bipeds with shaggy white hair wandering the snowy mountain peaks. A lot of these new sightings are in remote woodland areas, and the creatures themselves are more like brown haired apes, albeit seemingly with greater intelligence.

His latest expedition sees him teaming up with close friend (and sceptic) Richard Horsey, as they head off to the remotest areas of the Himalaya to investigate modern sightings of the Yeti. These aren’t just reports of distant, indistinct shapes though. There are stories of Yeti chasing people, and even attacking them.

Is it any good?

It reminds me a lot of other BBC mystery and paranormal shows, mostly Death In Ice Valley and Danny Robins‘ various spooky shows. In fact, the BBC seems to be on a bit of a run of paranormal shows at the moment, in part no doubt to Danny Robins’ runaway successes in the genre.

Being a BBC show, the production value is high. The music is evocative, and the binaural field recordings really put you in the far flung places that the guys explore. From remote villages clifftop temples and bustling marketplaces to terrifying journeys on narrow mountain passes, you feel as though you are right next to Andrew and Richard.

Final thoughts

The quest to prove the existence of the yeti is many decades old, and what sets this series apart is that it is investigating new sightings. It’s very easy for monster shows to dwell on the classic tales of this strange creature. It would be remiss of them to gloss over these stories, and they do get mentioned, but the main part of the investigation is following up leads on new encounters.

This series is short and sweet. While I don’t consider it being too much of a spoiler to say that you can probably guess how it ends, it’s enjoyable nonetheless. Having said that, I suspect that if this show had been any longer, then there is a real possibility that the actual hunt for the yeti would have taken a back seat to Andrew’s growing obsession with the quest. This is an equally interesting look at how friendships can suffer when one person’s enthusiasm escalates too far.

You can get Yeti here:

Keep to the path

The Dark Is Rising review

Production company – BBC World Service

Rating –

As I was listening to this series, it reminded me of the fantasy stories that were popular when I was growing up (and that I didn’t like). I tended to only learn about them when they got dramatised on Children’s BBC, usually at Christmas. As I was reading up on the original story to research this review, it turns out that it is indeed based on a classic children’s fantasy book series. I’m still not reading them though!

So what’s it about?

The story follows the adventures of Will Stanton. It is the day before his 11th birthday, Midwinter Eve, and strange things are afoot. Mysterious lurkers, nervous animals and cryptic warnings lay the groundwork for a truly bizarre adventure.

Meanwhile, across the world in Jamaica, Will’s brother receives a gift from a stranger. With the instructions that this gift is for Will, the stranger seems to know an awful lot about the family, and Will in particular.

So what is in store for young Will? Well, I’m obviously not going to tell you, am I? I’m not into spoilers as you well know, so you’ll have to subscribe and find out for yourselves.

Is it any good?

The cast, for the most part, is very good. The inclusion of Toby Jones in anything is usually a seal of approval. He is joined by Harriet Walter, Paul Rhys and Thomas Arnold. The actual cast is rather small with many of the actors playing multiple roles. I suspect that this is more to do with the central plot device than something like budget limitations.

Adapted for audio, directed and narrated by the brilliant Simon McBurney, someone who is fresh in my mind after playing the deliciously creepy protagonist in the TV drama Hijack. He has one of those distinctive voices that I immediately recognised.

I suspect this would appeal to the mid 40s folk horror fan. Whilst I would describe myself as that, I was never really into the Alan Garner “Low Fantasy” type stories.

Final thoughts

It is when I have to write reviews like this i realise what a contrarian I am. I can’t explain it. I said I’m not really into these type of stories, but I did really like the TV adaptations of Moondial and The Children Of Green Knowe when I was young, so maybe it’s more that I have come to this story too late. Who knows?

I suspect that it is to my detriment that I avoided stories like these as a child. Honestly, I was reading rather more full on horror than this style of child-centric folk mystery that I think is almost exclusively British. I reckon if I had read those type of stories, I would have loved this.

As I have said in previous reviews, this is just my opinion, and if my synopsis appeals to you, then absolutely check this out. There is, after all, much to enjoy here. It’s just not to my personal taste.

You can get The Dark Is Rising here:


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