For our 50th episode of the podcast, we have ex-CIA operative John Sipher. In a powerful and damning interview he talks about the damage being done to the Intelligence Community by the current administration, the risks to America from a delayed transition and his anger at the current relationship with Russia. He talks about how the pandemic will change intelligence gathering, the complications those currently serving face doing their jobs and how dangerous the politicization of intelligence work can be. John also explains how his company Spycraft Entertainment bridges the intelligence services and Hollywood, which shows are the most realistic (very few of them!) and how much material there is to work with at the moment. He also talks about scotch and espionage, taking a Russian defector to Scottish distilleries and why he wants to share a Lagavulin with Winston Churchill.
We talk to former British Deputy Ambassador in Washington Patrick Davies. He talks about Biden's historic victory, the chaos of working with the Trump administration and what next for America. Having met President elect Biden many times, he talks about what sort of man he is, his relationship with Britain and his reputation for reaching out across the political divide. The author of a new book - the Great American Delusion - Patrick admits his fears about the huge divides in America, the myths that drive America to behave the way it does but his hopes for the country going forward. The former diplomat talks about conducting active shooter drills in the Embassy, how Britain and America are going down the same path and the need for electoral reform in the US. And why he wants to share a Macallan with historic Vice President Elect Kamala Harris on the White House lawn.
We talk to the multi-talented David Kwong about puzzling during lockdown, missing live audiences and his love of bringing magic to the big and small screens. David has leaned into the virtual world, hosting instagram live puzzles and now has a full set in his basement for the sold out 'Inside the Box' show. He tells us about compiling puzzles for the New York Times, his favorite magic history stories and working on movies like Now You See Me - where he had to literally tape a coin to Morgan Freeman's hand - and shows like Deception and Blindspot. We talk about the science of magic, taking advantage of faulty wiring in the brain and his TED talks about it. And he tells the amazing story of Chung Ling Soo. David drinks a Talisker 10 while I enjoy a Bunnahaibhain - which has the same Scrabble tile value as his name. Tickets for his new show are available here - https://www.geffenplayhouse.org/shows/inside-the-box/
We talk to former Glasgow Warrior and Scotland rugby player Ruiradh Jackson. We talk about retiring early due to Covid and transitioning to a career in whisky and gin. He tells us about the re-launch of Glenturret, Scotland's oldest working distillery, describes his frustration at the recent closures of the Scottish hospitality industry and the importance of alcohol for a winter in Scotland. Ruaridh describes the highs and lows of his rugby career, mental health in sport and learning to drink whisky to unwind after games. He tells us about his Garden Shed Gin business, ignoring criticism on Twitter and why he wants to share a Balvenie 14 with Bob Marley on a Scottish beach.
We talk to Jael Ballard, director of corporate partnerships at LAFC. She tells us how much she misses live sport, how MLS has seized the moment with social activism and how the world has changed for women in sport. We talk about the principles behind the new Los Angeles MLS club, the passion of the fans and how there is enough room in Los Angeles for all the sports teams. She also talks about equestrian vaulting, family friendly soccer and why she wants to share a tequila with Michelle Obama.
We talk to British diplomat Richard Hyde, Her Majesty's representative to Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. He talks about diplomacy in the age of covid, diversity in Texas and in the British foreign service and his love for rodeo, bbq and breakfast tacos. We also cover the importance of teaching Americans to drink scotch while sharing Aberlour and Jura. He tells us about the importance of outreach to the Hispanic community in his States, female leadership in the British foreign office and growing up in Liverpool as the son of a disabled immigrant. The wide-ranging discussion also covers why Texans walk with a swagger, why the state is misunderstood in the UK and how comfortable cowboy boots really are.
We talk to David Laird, newly appointed Luxury Portfolio Specialist for William Grant. He explains why people spend thousands on good whisky, why sales are up so much during the pandemic and why even the most expensive whisky is made to be drunk. Over Balvenie and Glenfiddich 21 we discuss high-end whisky packaging, a $1k cocktail and the importance of drinking the best whiskys sitting down and with as few other people as possible. He also talks about running a bar in Memphis, his brief professional soccer career and wanting to share a dram with his family.
We talk to actor Brad Beyer who pays tribute to his 42 co-star Chadwick Boseman. He talks about working with the Black Panther actor and his portrayal of Jackie Robinson, how the film handled race and his sadness at the loss of such an acting talent. Brad tells of getting an appreciation for whisky from his acting teacher, mentor and friend the legendary Wynn Handman, who sadly succumbed to Covid in April. Brad also talks about his acting career, the difficulties of the industry during the pandemic and what might happen next.
We talk to Marc Benardout, British producer and director turned DUI campaigner following the death of his son. We talk about the social complications of drinking and driving, how DUIs are up dramatically during Covid and he tells the heartbreaking story of the untimely death of his son Noah. We use handheld breathalyzers to show what a whisky can do to you, talk about the legislative flaws around DUI and how Marc has turned tragedy into activism. This episode is brought to you in partnership with BACtrack, Makers Mark and the Noah Benardout Foundation.
We talk to Beverly Hills lawyer Jeff B Cohen about writing books, how puberty ruined his child acting career and, of course, being Chunk from the Goonies.