Hindsight was born out of a passion to connect the historical and geopolitical dots of the Middle East.
Our aim has been to re-engage audiences, millennials and third culture citizens who may feel put off by the steady stream of negative headlines out of the region. Our objective has been to lift the lid on the Middle East and explore its rich history, culture and unique characters. Often their stories help bring today’s conflicts into context.
As the series progressed and gained a wider audience, we explored other parts of the world for stories of great and infamous historical figures who might not have otherwise found a place in western podcast formats. As such, we’ve expanded the series to include narrative explorations of titans from Nigeria, Uganda and India.
Veteran actor Charles Dance (HBO’s Game of Thrones and Netflix’s The Crown) is the series narrator. Depending on the character, Charles’ masterful delivery will either make you laugh, or unexpectedly hold your breath.
Hindsight is made for English-speaking audiences and about characters who’ve changed the course of history, and whose lives might just as easily be the inspiration for plays or novels.
Al Jazeera’s audience come to us for news they can trust and don’t often see anywhere else. So you might be wondering why we’re making a podcast about dead people, and in first person. But it’s perfect that way. We respond to our audience by telling them stories about people they may have only heard of – or never knew existed. We bring the podcast to life through intense research, speaking to experts and historians who knew the characters or else studied them extensively.
Given our reach, we often find these people down the hall, or in an adjacent building to us, at the Al Jazeera Media Network. But in the end, it’s the voice: it all comes down to the voice. Only a born and raised Ugandan can convincingly play Idi Amin. Authenticity is the key and at every stage in the process we must ask: are we being true to the character, and to history? The challenge we sometimes face is finding something unique about a character who’s been gone for a long time. Catherine the Great, for example. While the series is based on actual events, it’s impossible to know what she said to herself in her most personal and quiet moments. But being inspired by the facts of her life, we are able to bring her character to life through dramatizations. And, somewhere along the way, we’re able to give a little context to a war that is affecting millions of lives today.
Al Jazeera English is the only global news organization in the Middle East that competes directly with the biggest US and UK based news outlets for readership, viewers and social subscribers. As such, we’ve always been measured by our ability to navigate a region where freedom of speech is discouraged and to emerge with quality news reporting and storytelling for English speaking audiences.
Hindsight’s positioning in the Middle East is an enormous strength that makes us unique whilst tapping into a multiple award-winning global network of journalists, producers, editors and presenters - all who have met the challenge with integrity and professionalism. As such, Hindsight comfortably lives outside of easily defined genres, and whose chief innovation is the storytelling itself.
At Hindsight, our goal is to be inclusive of diverse audiences and for our series to resonate with them across cultural and international boundaries. Our listenership are truly global, with the following top five countries, in order of listenership:
The next five countries from which our listeners are tuning in:
When we feature a figure from a new country, we find a new audience to the series. Like Nigeria’s Sani Abacha.
In numbers, Hindsight did well in 2022 for a dramatized historical podcast competing for listeners with news, true crime, sports and more mainstream podcast genres.
Enterprise podcast hosting service, Omny, reported the following numbers for 2022: