Irish Podcast Awards 2023: Best fiction podcast

Bringing the age-old tradition of oral storytelling into the modern age, fiction podcasts have built a loyal following of listeners eager to dive into a spot of audio escapism. The winners in this category have crafted gripping and immersive narratives, either by using tools like sound design and music, or simply through the power of raw, honest emotion.

Winner: Below

Audible’s Below shows the potential of podcasts for chilling storytelling, with superb acting and immersive sound design leading to a truly memorable mystery tale. The nine-part series tells the story of Ida Pederson, an energy executive sent to the Northern Irish village of Port Kriel to calm local tensions after an unexploded World War II bomb is discovered on the seabed, threatening local fishermen and her company’s windfarm. 

But the story takes a sinister turn when just two of the eight villagers sent to investigate the site return, traumatised and with no memory of what happened to the others.

As well as telling a gripping and engaging story, the sound design is second to none. The recordings use 360-degree ambisonic microphones and a series of live props to make the 7.1 surround-sound audio a phenomenally immersive experience when listened to via headphones.

Highly commended: The Dublin Story Slam Podcast

Collecting the best performances from the eponymous monthly competitive storytelling event, The Dublin Story Slam Podcast’s joy is in its freshness and variety. The open-mic setup means no two episodes are the same, and the result is equal parts moving, memorable and hilarious, while the live recording imbues a palpable sense of crackling energy to proceedings.