New podcast series EUNICAST, led by Czech Centre in London, among top 20 podcasts in UK

EUNICAST is a new podcast series presenting some of Europe’s most talented and respected artists, performers and influencers. Produced under the leadership of the Czech Centre in London, EUNICAST is among the top 20 podcasts in the UK. I spoke to Přemysl Pela, the head of the Czech Centre in London, who came up with the idea, and began by asking what makes this podcast series so special.  

“I believe it is a combination of various aspects and one of them would be the great personalities who agreed to take part in the UNICAST series. They come from various countries in Europe, although some of them now reside in the UK. There are people from Germany, France, Czech Republic, Estonia, Austria and Japan.

Přemysl Pela | Photo: Czech Centres

Secondly, the interviews were run by the award-winning BBC journalist Joe Lynam and the third aspect would bet the themes of the episodes. Each interviewee shares their very rich life story, but they are embedded in the current environment and what we are all facing in terms of the pandemic, in terms of Brexit and what the world will look like in their wake. So I think it is a mixture of all those elements.”

How did you put together your list – did you want a mix of younger people, older people, people from different walks of life?

“The list is relatively small so far. In the first run we have seven episodes and are now having a discussion whether to continue with this UNICAST series, but the list was put together as you mentioned – there is a mixture of genders, various professions, representatives of art and culture – so you have a ballet dancer, a historian, a conductor – in short, we wanted a bit of everything.”

I believe there is one Czech link there is that right?

“That is correct. There is a Czech-British personality and that is Sir John Tusa, former director of the BBC Worlds Service and the Barbican Centre, who is well-known here in the UK, he has Czech roots, his family comes from Zlin in Moravia.”

Which personalities or which topics have been the most successful?

Sir John Tusa | Photo: Ian Willoughby,  Radio Prague International

“From the seven episodes the top three would be the one I mentioned with Sir John Tusa, also that with  Paavo Jarvi, who is Estonian by birth and now a cosmopolitan Grammy-winning conductor, and also the interview with Tamara Rojo, who is Artistic Director and Lead Principal Dancer at the English National Ballet. Those were the top three that generated the most interest among listeners.”

How many of them were there on average?

“About one thousand downloads, I would say.”

Given the fact that there have been only seven interviews and the podcasts are so popular are you planning to run more in the future?

“As I mentioned, this has been a joint project led by the Czech Centre in London in cooperation with UNIC and there are now discussions with UNIC members about a second series that would run in the fall. We are discussing whether we would be looking at the cultural scene again or introduce other topics such as sustainability, climate change and so on. All that is being debated. But we are very encouraged by the response to the first series.

Czech out the UNICAST series at:

Excerpt from interview with Sir John Tusa:

When we were about to cross the border between Germany and Holland a woman in the carriage opposite said to my mother “Will you take my children and pretend that they are yours, because I am sure that Nazi border guards will stop us, because we are Jewish.” My mother knew that this wasn’t going to work and that if she tried to do it we would be arrested as well. So she said NO, which is completely understandable, but it haunted her for the rest of her life. Agony for the woman concerned, who knew she was going to be taken off the train because she was Jewish and agony for my mother who knew that in saying “I won’t try to take your children over” she was denying them the possibility of a free life. That was what life was like; that was what Europe was like in the weeks before the Second World War broke out. Absolutely tragic and spine-chilling to this day.