‘I don’t judge his decision to die’: the hit podcast about love, loss – and Britney Spears

“When someone dies, there are always questions that will be left unanswered. But what happens when you lose someone and they leave you a trail to follow after they are gone?”

Chris Stedman is explaining the central conceit of his podcast Unread. The four-part series sees the writer and podcaster memorialise his friend Alex, who took his own life in early 2020, via narration, voice notes and testimonies from mutual friends. It also follows Stedman’s quest to better understand his friend’s life, digging into parts of his history that he didn’t know existed. Bringing together an affecting story and a compelling mystery, Unread garnered critical acclaim from the likes of Vulture, and has been among the podcast highlights of the year since its release in July.

While a podcast might seem like a strange medium for a eulogy of sorts, in the case of Chris and Alex it is perhaps the one which makes most sense. Their decade-long friendship largely took place online, and Stedman learned of Alex’s death via a posthumous email from his friend. “It was shocking and horrifying to receive but he explained everything very clearly,” Stedman says. “Near the end, though, there was a detail that didn’t make sense to me. He included a link to audio files of him talking to someone he had met almost a decade earlier on a fan forum, who sounded exactly like Britney Spears.”

Read the feature in the Guardian.

[This piece was published on 06/10/21]