Tea in the Sahara
Kev – Fiction Podcast Critic
This week guys we Delve into the depths of history’s darkest past with a podcast that deals with some heavy historical subject matter. Real Dictators is designed to retrace and chronicle some of the 20th century’s most evil tyrants to have walked the planet. This is done by offering the listener a deep dive (45/50 mins) into the private personal lives of individual dictators charting their birth, rise to power, and subsequent downfall across several individualised chapters.
As you can imagine this podcast deals with some hard-hitting disturbing historical events, with acts of total brutality and barbarity against humanity that I can appreciate is not easy listening for every reader. As with all of my reviews I set out my stall, present the facts, coupled with my own personal opinion and allow the reader to form their own decision to engage with the show, or not. I have also tried to remain sympathetic with my review because of its nature and content. However, history lovers will certainly enjoy this original, forward-thinking approach to podcasting.
Entering its second season ‘Real Dictators’ was created by Pascal Hughes of Noiser Podcasts; a UK-based podcast production company that pride itself on specialising in dramatic storytelling. Our escort and adept guide/presenter throughout these events is Paul McGann of Dr Who fame, whose vocal delivery blends harmoniously into the show perfectly. The secret lives discussed during the first few seasons include dictator heavyweights such as Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Adolf Hitler, as well as others not so widely known like Papa Doc, General Tojo, and Colonel Gaddafi.
To try and understand the mechanics of how each dictator brainwashed entire countries, seized power and caused the deaths of millions, the podcast revisits these events using leading professionals within their own fields. The invaluable experience of authors, historians, professors, and first-hand witnesses is used to recount each event as it happened.
As the show suggests it gives the audience rare access to peer behind the curtain, like a fly on the wall placing you directly within each tyrants meeting rooms, private quarters, bunkers, and battlefields explained first hand by those who were there.
Where this show differs from other historical podcasts is by setting the scene of how these violent tyrants became the embodiment of evil modern society associated with them. Those pivotal, powderkeg moments from their early formative years put them on a trajectory of not just changing nations, but also shaping the world around us. Their complete tyrannical metamorphosis is documented throughout each chapter right into adulthood, and later twilight years. What follows within the series is their totalitarian regimes, political uprises, civil wars, revolution, and calculated takeovers by force, propaganda & fear brought to life by historians. The production quality (Joel Duddell), and attention to detail throughout Real Dictators is outstanding, leaving literally no stone unturned.
Having watched the excellent Netflix series ‘The Last Czars’ documenting the ill-fated Romanov royal family I was curious to find out more about Joseph Stalin, and where he personally fitted within the Russian Revolution. The chapters on Stalin within this podcast, regarding his early years helped fill in some of my own inquisitive blanks, adding historical context by unmasking the former Georgian bank robber who would later become the Premier of the Soviet Union.
I must also mention the music & sound design used within this podcast, which is almost like having its own independent character embedded within the show (if that makes sense?) That immersive atmosphere created really puts the listener onsite within those scenes, the sound team are trying to portray. Whether that be a bleak, desolate, crunchy-snowy scene in Siberia, or frantically running through the cobbled streets of Munich with bullets pinging out overhead, Head of Music Ollie Baines, & Tom Pink (Sound Design) have you covered. The stirring theme music with its dark jaunty strings sets the tone for the podcast beautifully, with a string arrangement by Dorry Macaulay. If like me you geek out over a good soundtrack make sure you check out the Noiser website for the complete soundtrack used within both seasons so far.
So who is this podcast for? Well obviously anyone that is interested in historical events that’s a given. However that being said, even the hardened history buff can take something new away from this podcast as there are still plenty of surprising revelations to be found within its chapters.
Extra kudos for having author, Second World War historian, & YouTuber Mark Felton within the show’s ensemble of experts. I already follow Mark over on YouTube, so hearing his comprehensive account on the General Tojo episodes was a real bonus for me.
My personal takeaway from this podcast is the truly breathtaking scale, and cruelty of some of the atrocities created by each dictator. The show in essence caused me to pause, and think much wider & broader. The regime’s of Mao, Stalin, and Hitler are gone, however, that does not mean the world we live within is completely dictator free; and that is something we as a society should not forget.
Thank you for taking the time to read my review of ‘Real Dictators’ which I genuinely hope you have enjoyed reading. A new episode of Real Dictators is released every Wednesday. In the second series Real Dictators are charting Adolf Hitler’s rise from Austrian third rate painter, to the leader of the Third Reich. All episodes of Real Dictators can be found on Spotify, Google, or from wherever you choose to get your podcasts from.
This is my first historical podcast review, and here’s hoping it won’t be my last! This review was challenging for me given I normally tend to review fiction podcasts, so I really hope you can appreciate the extra effort that went into my writing.
If you enjoyed my style of reviewing why not check out my previous review of Soft Voice for something a tad lighter on the old content front? If you are looking to have your podcast or audio drama reviewed by Tea in the Sahara, whatever your genre please do get in touch via my contacts page and let’s have a chat! Cheers, Kev.