Podcast Review: Capital


There is a small number of television shows to which ‘The Thick Of It’ belongs that I can view again and again and its enjoyment never fades. Perhaps it is the sheer genius of its writing, perhaps it is the constant relevance it holds to modern British politics as the years tick by, or perhaps I just like imaginative swearing.

There are, however, few podcasts that I can imagine holding a candle to such a show. Satire walks a fine line in the podcast world – The Bugle, for instance, still feels fresh and very much a podcast that quickly cuts through the misty delicacy of terrestrial evening news, delivering both analysis and comedy in equal measure. Other podcasts may cater to a wider audience but lack the bite of something like The Bugle – BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz and Now Show are long-standing favourites, but still hold on to canned laughter and perhaps (it could be argued) a tired format.

It was therefore pleasantly surprising to hear ‘Capital’ embrace the modern lexicon and comment culture of the modern world while retaining a satirical edge of a television show such as The Thick Of It. While it may not throw out expletives as freely, it boldly grasps the political landscape of the last couple of years with both hands and fires out line after line of eminently quotable lines. Can I see myself downloading these episodes again and reminding myself of such quotes again and again on repeat listenings? Quite possibly.

Starring Harry Enfield and Charlotte Ritchie, whom I had previously seen in Fresh Meat, Capital unashamedly and immediately sets down parallels with Brexit, referenda and a divided society. Its name alludes to a recent vote that has brought back Capital Punishment – the death penalty reinstated by popular choice. This referendum, quite possibly like others we have seen, narrowly won with a 50.9% of the vote in favour of the death penalty, and Britain is taken back to a golden era in which a memory of a far greener grass is realised.

But what of the mindset of an ordinary, average British person who would be in favour of such a move? If anyone knows, it isn’t the team discussing the referendum in Capital. “The People”, as they are referred to a number of times, may want to see the execution occur on television. Or do they? Do they want to see a “hard capital punishment” such as hanging, or a “soft capital punishment”, where lethal injection takes its place and offers a potential middle-ground that might suit a broader demographic. Either way, it is crucial that we decide on a “British punishment for the British people”.

Brexit continues to be referred to in quite broad terms in episode one: both in reference to Dunkirk, and with less strain on jails, in this world we would see “£350 million on incarceration going into the NHS”, and if anyone morally objects, well, it is after all “quite hard to get a needle into a snowflake”.

As the episodes pass, a deeper feeling of perturbation sets in as the parallels between the world of Capital and our current climate bed in. At the time of writing, there are a mere 210 reviews on iTunes for Capital, and I would imagine that this ought to increase when word spreads. Capital seems to be the first true podcast for a 2018 audience, and for me it may very well become a podcast that lasts well into 2019, 2020 and beyond.

This is an iTunes link to Capital, although it should be available on most popular podcasting platforms.

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