Podcasts that are good: Beef and Dairy Network

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The Beef and Dairy Network Podcast is the number one podcast for those involved with – or just interested in – the production of beef animals and dairy herds. The podcast is the companion to the Beef and Dairy Network website and printed magazine, and provides a fascinating blend of news from around the world of beef and dairy farming along with in-depth interviews.

The podcast is such a brilliant spoof that I feel like it’s almost spoiling the joke to talk about it as anything other than what it claims to be. The fact there’s now (real) adverts on the podcast only adds to the spoof, as it’s sometimes hard to tell which bits we’re supposed to believe and which are parody. However, the podcast is rapidly evolving and it seems hard to believe that anyone would now (as some angry iTunes reviewers apparently have) believe it is actually a podcast for farmers. Unless those farmers like comedy, obviously.

B&DNP is the creation of Benjamin Partridge, who is also behind the excellent Radio 4 sketch show Small Scenes. The podcast has featured contributions from comedy luminaries such as The Wonderful Josie Long (that’s her official title), Miles Jupp, Celia Pacquola and the underrated Mike Wozniak. Special mention must go to Mike Bubbins, playing one of the podcast’s stranger recurring characters. Partridge is the ever-enthusiastic but frequently surprised host who interviews not only farmers and slaughterhouse workers but also scientists, a worried youth worker, a man campaigning for cows to compete in the Olympics, and a Britpop bass player who is DEFINITELY NOT based on Alex “I’m a farmer now, you know” James.

The podcast has very quickly developed its own logic. While the first few episodes saw Partridge asking seemingly nonsensical questions to exasperated guests who weren’t quite as obsessive about cows, the podcast now takes place within a world where lamb is a dangerous drug and kids only eat it because they want to imitate their favourite New Zealand rappers; where a farmer can build a rocket in his back garden and then set up a mosquito-themed zoo; where there is conspiracy to hush up talk of a recently-discovered ‘fifth meat’. Although the last one is clearly a joke – obviously the only meats are beef, pork, lamb and chicken.

The podcast has a heavy dose of Chris Morris in its total dedication to playing it straight, and its dramatic changes in comic tone from completely daft to very, very dark. (As in, “a minute solid of the sound of someone crying” dark.) It’s also worth mentioning the podcast’s very clever production, heard at its best in one of the ‘on location’ Eli Roberts episodes, and in the use of what I would describe as “sound collages” if I were feeling a bit more wanky. There’s also a subtle vein of satire throughout the whole thing. Everything described is funny because it’s so ludicrous, but the way that meat and milk are talked about prompts us to ask, isn’t the idea of killing and eating animals the most ludicrous thing of all? I have no idea if anyone involved is vegetarian/vegan or not; I’m just saying the podcast implicitly suggests the very concept of farming animals is inherently weird and, ultimately, comic and/or tragic.

Anyway, what I’m saying is the Beef and Dairy Network podcast is really funny and you should listen to it. It’s only one episode a month and each episode is about 20 minutes, so it won’t drown your podcast device in updates that you feel obliged to listen to. Follow them on Twitter @beefanddairy. Until next time – beef out!

 

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