A Podcast To The Curious review
I figured I’d do a belated review of this podcast because hosts Will Ross and Mike Taylor have just done a belated 10th anniversary episode. So in the spirit of late posting and life getting in the way, here is my (late) review of the excellent A Podcast To The Curious.
So what’s it all about?
Originally (as you may have guessed from the podcast title), this was a series dedicated to the works of the renowned teller of ghost stories M.R. James. I say originally, because originally they did one episode on each of his stories in chronological order. Now, much like the musical back catalogue of Robert Johnson, the James back catalogue only contains about 20 something tales of terror. Once they had exhausted these, they branched out into stories written by “The James Gang”, the group of contemporary writers who have a similar style (and also a penchant for two initials before their surnames).
There are countless podcasts and collections of audio books that just do straight readings and adaptations of famous stories, but this one is more scholarly. Each episode certainly contains excerpts and readings, but this is more of a deep dive into the mechanics and inspirations of the story. Their research uncovers if the fictional settings have real life counterparts, and if certain notable historical figures ever existed at all. They uncover hidden Easter eggs and in-jokes in the stories, and essentially add a whole new dimension to what were already great stories.
Is it any good?
Absolutely. The guys are witty and engaging, and make what could easily become boring, entertaining. The occasional guests they have on are also witty and engaging, and extremely knowledgeable on the subject of all things Jamesian. A standout example was their interbew with Robert Lloyd Parry, a man who has quite literally stepped into James’ shoes and hosts evening readings of his stories by candlelight.
It was also interesting to hear their “premonition” of a better ending for “The Mezzotint”. That actually got included in the recent Mark Gatiss adaptation. Maybe he’s a fan of the show! (I should think he is. Tut tut Mark)
You’ll love this podcast if you’re a fan of M.R. James, or traditional ghost stories in general. There is so much to discover in each episode it really is worth your time. Don’t expect an audiobook or straight reading of the stories though. This is more scholarly than that. Don’t let that put you off though (unless you really want an audiobook).
I appreciate that this review is somewhat shorter than my usual posts, but that can’t really be helped. There is no voice acting to critique, or sound effects to enjoy. It’s just a deep dive into some classic horror stories.
You can get A Podcast To The Curious here: