In this installment of our audio confessions, senior editor Daniel Cooper explains his love for a British thriller podcast that had him hooked almost immediately.
I could be wrong, but I feel like everyone has a childhood experience of visiting a shitty regional theme park. You know, they’re an hour away from home and promise some of the thrills of an Alton Towers or Six Flags with a fraction of the ambition. I know I loved Pleasurewood Hills, my own shitty regional theme park, but always felt that it was lacking something. You know, a sense that these places weren’t quite right compared to their glossier, wealthier rivals.
Maybe that’s why I’ve fallen so hard for Mockery Manor, a thriller podcast set in a shitty regional British theme park. It tells the story of JJ and Bette, twin sisters working their first summer job at the eponymous manor at the start of the 1989 season. As well as navigating their own traumas and the hell that is teenage drama, something else seems to be going on. A string of mysterious deaths and a culture of secrecy hint at something sinister lurking at the heart of the manor.
I’d spoil things if I said too much, but the first couple of episodes had me hooked and kept me coming back for more. Lindsay Sharman’s script is engaging enough, especially as the mysteries at the heart of the manor unfold, that you’ll arrange your plans around new episodes. Be warned, however, things do get pretty dark as the stakes -- and the body count -- start to get higher.
The show recently finished its eleven-episode first season, making this the perfect time to binge it, especially given its episode-per-month rollout. Spare yourself the agony of waiting that long and run through the whole thing (each episode is half an hour long) across a week and a half.
Mockery Manor deserves plaudits for its production quality, and despite its homegrown roots, it’s better than lots of professional shows. Editor, composer and sound designer Laurence Owen has built a complete world with his soundscapes and music in the show. Even better, Owen composed a period appropriate pop hit for every episode that I’d quite fancy to listen to on their own playlist. My favorite being the Smiths-adjacent Foucault’s Pendulum track from episode six. (The show’s soundtrack is available to buy as a standalone release.)
You’ll also barely notice the tiny cast size, with everyone playing multiple parts, unless some jerk tells you ahead of time. Thankfully, the characters are well-realized, and the whole show is free from the sort of RADIO ACTING where CHARACTERS NARRATE EVERY SINGLE THING THEY DO. It rarely talks down to you, either, another reason to subscribe to it straight away.
Thankfully, producers Long Cat Media has already announced a second season of Mockery Manor. I for one can’t wait to spend more time with JJ, Bette and the rest of the crew as they delve into another bunch of mysteries in, hopefully, the 1990 summer season.