Podcast of the Week: ‘Trial of a Timelord’

This week: Doctor Who on trial, story by story.

We’re big fans of podcasts here at We Are Cult, and we’re always looking for more shows to subscribe to. So if you’re looking for ear candy, we’re here to help!

This week: Herbert West tells us all about podcast Trial of a Timelord: Doctor Who stories on Trial. Each episode covers a different story.


 What’s your podcast about?

The podcast is a way to dig in to what we love and hate about Doctor Who. There’s nothing to clarify how you feel than having to defend a show you love or put the boot into one you hate.

If you had to describe your show in 10 words or less, what would you say?

Doctor Who on trial, story by story.

Which episode would you recommend for a first-time listener?

A new listener could dive in anywhere – all you need is a working knowledge of the story. Some listeners have rewatched the story before they listen while others rewatch straight after.

Do you have a favourite episode?

My two favourite episodes so far are probably the Happiness Patrol where a vicar likened late 80s Doctor Who to a man sobbing and masturbating in front of a half empty theatre – it makes sense in context – and the Revenge of the Cybermen which we’ve just recorded. That’s purely because the guest proves I’m irredeemably racist for mocking the cultural heritage of the Vogans. But every guest has made me laugh and made me laugh so – at the risk of sounding like a Primary school teacher who gives everyone a prize just for showing up, I’ve enjoyed them all.

What inspired you to create this podcast?

The idea behind the podcast came from a throwaway comment from a mate about putting an episode on trial. I do podcasts for my work so had a bit of spare storage and so just started asking people if there were any stories they wanted to do. I inagined that everyone would want to pile in on the rubbish ones, but that’s not what tended to happen. Most people wanted to defend stories they loved for some reason. I cannot believe some of the shite that Doctor Who fans are willing to man the barricades for and defend to the death. It’s really rather touching.

Which guests have you had on your podcast so far?

The guests have mainly been people I’ve known for a long time online; it’s an eclectic bunch. Writers, teachers, philosophers, vicars, journalists – all human life is lined up, united only by their desire to say “I love this about Doctor Who.” Or, in some cases, “How can people watch this shite?!”

Who would be your dream guest?

My dream guest would have to be Peter Capaldi. Not only is he one of the greatest Doctors we’ve ever been blessed to have – and one I wanted since I saw the Crow Road all those years ago – but he’s a proper fan. I would love to see what story he’d want to defend – or perhaps more interestingly, what story would he want to put the boot into?

Which equipment do you use for your podcast set-up?

The podcasts I do for work are recorded on a Tascam DR-40 through an MXL 990 mic. For Trial of the Timelord – or @WhoTrial, if you’re looking for us on Twitter – I run the MXL into my desktop PC and record the Skype call. Everything is then edited in Audacity to clean up Skype as much as possible.

What would you say is the best length of time for a podcast episode?

I think the joys of a podcast is that you’re not slaved to any particular time. My GCSE History ones range from 10 minutes to 45, depending on how complex the topic is. For entertainment podcasts I think an hour is the sweet spot, just under if possible. An hour gives you enough time to dig in to something with some depth but doesn’t outstay its welcome. It’s also a good length of time for a commute or house work or gardening. I always assumed that, like me, people to listen to podcasts while physically doing something else and a lot of activities tend to fall around the 50min to one hour area for some deep psychological reasons I’m not really qualified to unpick.

Which podcasts (other than yours) would you recommend we listen to?

Just after I did the first one of this, someone said I should listen to SMERSHPOD. I did, only to discover they were doing something very similar but better, which is always annoying. Still, brave heart, Tegan, eh? There’s the obvious ones: Kermode and Mayo, In Our Time, Infinite Monkey Cage – and I’ll come back to those in a moment – alongside things like Not the Special Edition… oh and Shup up and Sit Down because I’m a board game addict.

Where is your podcast available to listen to?

WhoTrial is hosted on Podbean at https://trialofatimelord.podbean.com/ and we’re also on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/trial-of-a-timelord/id1259084974?mt=2

What is the future of podcasting as a creative medium?

Podcasting is an interesting thing; it’s the democratizing of radio. If you look at some of the ones I mentioned above, they’re Radio 4 shows but now I listen to them as I want. With podcasting we saw the Netflix/streaming revolution hit the spoken word media long before it hit TV. Now, if you’ve got something to say a halfway decent microphone, you can find an audience and I think that’s incredibly exciting. Or maybe it’s just a new way for to make knob gags about Doctor Who and cult media? Two other things I would say about the future of podcasting, though. First, look at the British History Podcast. He’s great and he’s doing genuinely good work; thanks to the wonders of crowdfunding it’s now become his job. He gets paid. That is massively exciting, especially for those people who want to communicate ideas to a wider audience than they would normally reach. Secondly, the democratizing effect of podcasts is working on accents as well. In the 80s we got used to regional voice and regional concerns in the theatre and on TV – think GBH , Auf Weidersehn Pet, Boys from the Black Stuff, even Bread for chrissakes. But Now there’s a lack of working class voices and regional ideas in the mainstream and podcasting has a real chance of providing a different channel for these voices to be heard. As I said, very exciting – and not just in the sexy, true crime ‘Serial’ sense of exciting.

Follow Trial of a Timelord on Twitter: @WhoTrial

Download or stream past of Trial of a Timelord via Podbean: https://trialofatimelord.podbean.com/

Download past episodes or subscribe to future episodes of Trial of a Timelord on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/trial-of-a-timelord/id1259084974?mt=2

Have you got a podcast? Email wearecultcontent@gmail.com if you would like it to be featured.

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