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Pick of the Podcasts: Dolly Parton’s America, Tunnel 29, The Birthday Game

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Dolly Parton’s America (Apple Podcasts)

Who is the one person that sums up the good old United States of America?

Donald Trump? No thanks. Oprah Winfrey? Maybe. Kim Kardashian? Absolutely not.

You have to visit Tennessee if you want the answer – Dollywood, to be exact.

Country music icon Dolly Parton’s life can teach us about life in the USA, at least according to makers of a new podcast.

Dolly Parton’s America is a nine-part exploration of the singer’s life, but her journey from Western warbler to camp icon can teach us a lot, says the podcast’s host, Jad Abumrad.

“I started noticing this person I grew up with was being looked at by a whole different group of people in a new way,” said Abumrad.

“Particularly at this moment in America, when we don’t have too many unifying figures, everybody loves Dolly.”

Abumrad chatted with students at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville who were studying Parton and history.

“Dolly is a multi-verse,” he added. “She’s this portal to so many different kinds of stories.

“Some of it is music-related. Some of it is biographical.”

Parton revealed she was impressed by the commitment the makers of Dolly Parton’s America showed to the project

“I’ve been so lucky to see so many dreams come true,” she said.

“So it’s nice to be able to present that in such a way, especially when people do such a good job of really doing their research.”

Tunnel 29 (BBC Sounds)

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Helena Merriman tells the extraordinary true story of a man who dug a tunnel into the East, right under the feet of border guards, to help friends and strangers escape.

It’s also the story of the American TV network which funded it and the love that developed between refugees.

The Birthday Game (Apple Podcasts)

Lanky quiz boffin Richard Osman has come up with plenty of quiz show ideas through the years – having a hand in Two Tribes, House Of Games and, of course, Pointless. Now he has a new quiz podcast, The Birthday Game.

Simple the idea may be – celebrities guess the age of other celebrities – but it’s also very funny. The prize is incredible, too…a chocolate caterpillar cake.