RedHanded the podcast dragging true crime into the modern world
RedHanded was launched in 2017, built on the shared love of true crime by hosts Hannah Maguire and Suruthi Bala.
The duo count Rick & Morty creator Dan Harmon, actress Anna Paquin and comedian Sara Pascoe among their legion of fans (the self-appointed “Spooky Bitches”).
Having met at a party, the pair infamously recorded their first episode together in a violin cupboard under Hannah’s stairs after locking themselves in by accident.
Initially started as a hobby and creative outlet for the hosts, they struggled at first; balancing day jobs (Hannah in commercial theatre and Suruthi in conference production), everyday life, and the podcast.
During the first year one of them would say it was time to stop due to the workload, but then something remarkable would happen that gave them grounds to continue. The presenters went full-time in 2019 and began producing additional content for listeners and supporters including the RedHaunted series in which the presenters read out stories of paranormal activity submitted by fans.
Hannah and Suruthi both felt that true crime needed dragging into the modern world – no more raspy voice-overs subtly blaming the victim or totally ignoring the blatant societal issues around racism, homophobia, misogyny, politics, mental illness, corruption, religion, injustice, and inequality that feed into every crime; this was going to be different. And it’s working – RedHanded’s bold exploration of these issues coupled with the hosts’ sharp wit, sense of humour, deep research and refreshing case selection has seen the show gain international acclaim and a legion of fans.
The pair wanted to disrupt and confront issues they felt important. This has ranged from honour killings, the death of MP Jo Cox by Far-Right extremists in the UK and showing their support for Black Lives Matter with a six-part special highlighting cases central to the movement, starting with the murder of George Floyd.
RedHanded has been a vocal supporter of ‘We Can’t Consent to This’; an organisation dedicated to ending the use of the rough sex defence in courts. The podcast worked with the organisation to raise awareness for the July 2020 UK parliamentary vote to adopt NC20 to the Domestic Abuse Bill to end the use of this defence in UK courts. The rough sex defence has now been banned in England and Wales.
Their modus operandi of speaking truth to power has resonated, not just with their legions of fans, both famous and not, but with the media and peers.
The podcast was awarded silver in the British Podcast Awards last year after receiving a nomination in 2019.
It has been placed higher each year in the Listeners Choice Awards (Top 20 in 2018, Top 10 in 2019 and 2nd in 2020). They’ve frequently graced recommendation lists from the likes of Buzzfeed, Elle, Stylist, Daily Mail, The Telegraph and Vox, among others.
In March 2019 Bala and Maguire were guest stars on Dan Harmon’s podcast Harmontown in LA, where the Rick and Morty creator introduced the pair as, ‘The goldilocks of true crime.’ The next month, the duo hosted a live conversation with director Joe Berlinger following an early screening of his film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile which centres around American serial killer Ted Bundy.
The numbers back up Hannah and Suruthi’s incredible rise. An average RedHanded episode sees 130,000 downloads within 30 days of airing and their regular monthly audience sits at nearly two million, 86% of which are young women. Their live shows often sell out with hours, with one selling out in only 18 minutes, and their line of “Spooky Bitch” merch is in consistently high demand.
RedHanded came from nothing to become a podcast pulling in millions of listens a month, gracing stages with some of the best, brightest and funniest the UK has to offer. It’s done with wit, consideration for victims and listeners, and a bold approach that connects with their audience, new and old.