The Cambridge Geek

A Scottish Podcast

Now this is a bit novel. This is a fictional podcast, about the making of a fictional podcast. It's probably been done before (there have been quite a few podcasts by now), but I haven't seen (heard) it myself.

Lee Power is a disgraced radio DJ (a quick coke on the night shift is more of a problem when it's in powder form), who's decided that having slaved away for bosses for years, it's finally time to strike out for himself. And by that, he means start a podcast. He's come back to Edinburgh to do it, and runs into his old pal Doug(ie).

Though Dougie is a bit scathing, he agrees to go along with it, helping with the sound effects and production an' that. Luckily he's a bit of a whiz with the ol' iTunes, being a musician, so they'll be sorted. Lee's decided that what he wants to do is one of them supernatural investigation podcasts, like The Black Tapes, but based around Scotland, and he's got the first idea already lined up.

Somebody's digging up the road, an' they've found these vaults under the street, right? Nobody's quite sure what it is, but it's lookin' like it's bit of the Old(er) Town, that slowly got built on over the centuries. Lee manages to convince Doug to be his recording chap, and the two of them go investigating. They've only got the one night to get down there and have a look, before the Council and a handy Professor get their mitts on it.

That's not the only mystery they have a look at, as the island of St Caillic also has a particular bit of history, with a sudden evacuation about a hundred years ago. It's all grist for the mill of "The Terror Files", and it's a perfectly fine name, damnit.

So most of the time, the podcast follows Lee's and Doug's lives, with all their ups and downs. The podcast needs a sponsor, and finds one in Bruce, Edinburgh's premier crime boss. At the same time, the local football team have got problems with, well, everything, so they've hired an international superstar coach, which I'm sure is going to work well. There's also a strange recurring character who might be up to something in the background, and Lee has fun with his job.

It is gorgeously Scottish. By which I mean anyone who struggles with the accent is going to be totally bewildered, and those of us who don't necessarily consider "fuck" a punctuation mark might be a bit surprised. Like the recent Lucyd, something regional makes a nice change. The dialogue is naturalistic as hell, with the arguments and discussions between Lee and Dougie, or the various other cast members, flowing beautifully. It's got excellent comedic timing, and never gets dull. It's also pleasingly both sarcastic and dismissive.

The horror comes through only occasionally, but there's an absolutely incredible bass rumble they've got for the nastier moments, that sends a shiver up the spine with some of the grim reveals. Those darker moments are very powerful, especially when contrasted against what's mostly a light-hearted show. The first big discovery of the result of the vault investigation was surprisingly chilling.

It also gets a couple of extra points both for being utterly unadorned by an intro or outro, which makes it perfect for bingeing, and for being short. The episodes only run for ten minutes, but each manage to get a short arc, while still building character and the overall arc. The finale runs in at significantly longer, and has a guest star of sorts, who I very much enjoy from something else.

It's charmingly meta, with references to the podcast world (they want to be number one on itunes), though this does on one or two occasions feel like a weird lecture about how podcasts work. Still, as I say, that in the fictional form is entertaining. It also comments on itself as it's running on.

It's rather brilliant, and I am really looking forward to the second series.

Score 5

Tagged: Audio fiction Comedy Cast Dramatised Urban fantasy Serial