Pieces of Britney (July 2021)
An 8-part docu-series about Britney Spears, written and presented by me for BBC Radio 4. Featuring 18 talking heads, in-depth archive clips and drama by playwright Katie Hims, the show is a sympathetic rendering of Britney Spears’ life and the cultural forces that have shaped it to ask: how do we treat women in the public eye? Delving into the paparazzi Gold Rush, the explosion of celebrity gossip blogs, misogyny and shame culture in the early noughties – and of course, Britney’s infamous 13-year conservatorship, from which she is petitioning the court to dissolve – the show was No.1 on iTunes for 2 weeks and stayed in the Top 10 for more than a month, garnering millions of downloads.
Beautifully constructed and narrated by one of the best voices in podcasting, the mellifluous Pandora Sykes … It tells its story — Spears’s rise from redneck Louisiana to mega fame to dodgy conservatorship — with effortless narrative energy.The Times
Seamlessly assembled and achieves an impressive level of depthThe Financial Times
Pandora Sykes is trying to do something different with this podcast: to present a sympathetic portrait, and locate Spears within a cultural context. An admirable ambition… This is an absorbing podcast, and I recommend it.The Guardian
Sykes makes a compelling moral case in Pieces of Britney for this being an important story… In incisive, urgent narration she charts Spears’s rise to fame… Spears is at the centre of this story, but Sykes also makes this a cultural reappraisal of how our society treats women and a strong analysis of a tumultuous media landscape.The Sunday Times
The Missing (2020 -)
In the UK, someone is reported missing every 90 seconds. 99% of the time, the person is found. But 1% of cases remain open indefinitely – and these are the ‘long-term missing’. Produced by What’s The Story? Sounds for Podimo and made in collaboration with the charity Missing People UK and investigation specialists, Locate International, The Missing is real-life mystery with a social purpose: to find out what really happened to the long-term missing, using interviews with friends and family to tell their life stories. I have presented two seasons of The Missing, which hit No.1 on iTunes instantly. In 2021, it was nominated for a British Podcast Award.
Season 3 is awaiting schedule.
A well-researched and ethically sound addition to the true crime genre… [Sykes is an] excellent host, her script and presentation striking the right balance between intrigue and empathy.The Guardian
[Sykes] has now put on an investigative hat. It’s a good fit. Already in the top ten of the iTunes podcast charts, The Missing is framed as a true crime show with a difference… Still, it’s got the hallmarks of the genre: gripping whodunnit narratives, moody music, emotive case studies…. When, Sykes asks, do you give up hope and stop searching?The Sunday Times Culture
Doing it Right (2020 -)
A conversational interview series where I probe experts about modern life, in all its anxieties, trivialities and myths, in order to challenge the idea that life is something to get right. Season 1 of Doing It Right, which aired over the summer of 2020, included broadcaster Dotty Charles on outrage culture, historian Rutger Bregman on why human beings are inherently good, activist Sinead Burke on how architecture excludes little people, psychotherapist Julia Samuel on the relationship between grief and change and philosopher Alain de Botton on the paradox of choice.
Season 2 will be released in September 2021.
Exploring contemporary ideas without imposing them.The Sunday Times Culture
The High Low (Feb 2017 – Dec 2020)
The High Low was the no1 women’s weekly podcast co-created and co-hosted by me and Dolly Alderton. Our MO was “from the trivial to the political”, and as such the show covered pop-culture, news, trivia (lots of trivia) and books. Over the almost-four years, we interviewed best-sellling authors including Reni Eddo-Lodge, David Nicholls, Candice Carty-Williams and Fatima Bhutto. The show garnered over 1.2 million downloads per month.
In 2019, we had a sell-out live tour in the UK, and launched a collection of merchandise, with 100% of the profits going to charities including Black Minds Matter, Show Racism The Red Card, and Women’s Aid. Our live finale in December 2020 was watched via Zoom by over 11,000 people and raised over £87,000 for Blood Cancer UK.
Refreshing, witty…in a world where podcasts can stray into 90-minute slogs full of rambling diversions, The High Low is resolutely tight.The Guardian
Done with wit, intelligence and an archly raised eyebrow.The Financial Times
Like a 21st-century incarnation of sharp-eyed Jane Austen characters waspishly observing events in the millennial parish.The Sunday Times
Intelligent, sensitive discussion of pop culture, TV, books, lifestyle questions and the news. Don’t be deceived by the show’s breezy and approachable style; it works because its polymathic hosts are fiercely on top of their brief.The Times
The female duo echo the American trend (Think: Two Dope Queens, Call Your Girlfriend), but acknowledge their privilege in a refreshingly transparent manner. A chat show that’s mindful, not mindless? The perfect background for your commute.The Evening Standard
Chicken soup for the soul – comforting, warm and familiar. You will come away loving yourself, and the Panda to your Dolly even more.Marie Claire
Like listening to two of your best mates lovingly take the piss out of each other at the pub… The High Low, has charmed listeners across the nation – and the world.Elle