Wondery’s latest UK podcast will examine the sensational case of a dolphin who visited the Northumberland coast and the animal rights campaigner who was accused of committing indecent acts with him, the company has announced.
Co-produced by Blanchard House, Hooked On Freddie tells the story of Alan Cooper, who first encountered Freddie the dolphin in the waters around Northumberland’s Amble Harbour in the early 1990s. Cooper was charged with indecency after claims that he was stimulating Freddie’s penis while swimming with him.
Cooper was subsequently cleared of these charges in 1991, as part of a trial during which the defence claimed that the complaints were fuelled by one Peter Bloom. Bloom was the manager of a dolphin attraction in north Yorkshire with whom Cooper, an avid campaigner against keeping dolphins in captivity, had previously butted heads.
“This is a truly incredible story that has to be heard to be believed,” said Rosie Pye, creative director and co-founder of Blanchard House. “Everything that happened here will leave you astonished! It’s not only a story about the power of wild accusations, it is also extremely poignant, as we hear someone's worst nightmare unfold.”
“Working with Wondery to bring the show to life has been a real joy. We have four shows out this year, each extraordinary in a different way, and we can’t wait to share them with listeners.”
The podcast will be hosted by Becky Milligan, an award-winning journalist and host of BBC Radio 4’s The Home Babies. Milligan first encountered and swam with Freddie - dubbed “the world’s friendliest dolphin” as part of the trial - as a student journalist. The show represents Wondery’s sixth UK original and will debut on 19 September on all podcast platforms, with new episodes available early and ad-free on Amazon Music and Wondery+ for subscribers.
“Hooked on Freddie is an extraordinary story which is both joyously uplifting and deeply poignant,” said Wondery’s head of UK podcast content Rich Knight. “It’s about a magical friendship between species and a bitter rivalry between humans. At its heart, it is a story about how we should treat wild animals. We’re delighted to work with Becky Milligan, who has followed the story from the very beginning and tells it with sensitivity and wit.”
Blanchard House is the podcast production company behind shows such as Audible’s Agatha Christie and the Dandelion Poisoner. Part of the company’s strategy is to identify and produce stories which it thinks will be attractive to TV networks and streaming platforms as potential candidates for adaptation into other formats.
“Blanchard House definitely optimises itself to present IP as part of the IP funnel for TV and film, and when we started the company, that was part of the vision and the mission,” CEO Kimberly Jung told PodPod. “When you think about reading a script that's in written form – let's say it's from a book or it's from an article versus hearing a podcast – I think it's really obvious that hearing a podcast allows a writer or a TV producer to be able to visualise and understand the story much better than it does the other way around. So I think podcasts are pretty unique in that.”