This article was updated on the 7th April 2021
RNZ’s recent podcast, The Service, serves as an exploration of a period of New Zealand history framed through the lens of an individual’s journey to understand his family’s role in the era. In the process, John Daniell, the show’s co-host, presents a vivid and compelling account of the Security Intelligence Service’s (SIS) operations during the Cold War that retains a sense of reminiscence of the period.
Though much of the podcast is centred on Daniell’s investigation of a story which his step-father told him, prior to passing away, about a specific operation undertaken by the SIS during the period; The Service expands beyond this premise, instead delving into a wide array of operations undertaken by the agency. Despite being set during the Cold War, The Service also engages in discussions surrounding the contemporary state of the intelligence community, featuring an interview with Helen Clark on the current relationship between New Zealand’s intelligence services and other partners to the Five Eyes intelligence sharing agreement.
In approaching stories of espionage and intrigue from the perspective of an individual’s desire to understand their parent’s work; The Service is able to maintain a grounded, somewhat charming quality as it deals with relatively heavy subject matter. In totality, the show serves as a remarkable piece of both investigative journalism and narrative non-fiction.
9/10: Cold War, Hot Stories