The true story of a dolphin sex scandal in the North of England in the early 1990s is the subject of a new Wondery podcast.
“Hooked on Freddie,” from transatlantic production company Blanchard House, is set to launch on the platform on Sept. 19, with the first three episodes available on that day.
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It tells the story of animal rights activist Alan Cooper, who developed an unusually close friendship with a wild bottlenose dolphin (nicknamed Freddie by locals) when the mammal appeared in Amble Harbour, in Northumberland, in the mid 1980s.
But after feuding with an animal trainer at a local marine park, Cooper found himself accused of molesting Freddie. By 1991, Cooper was facing criminal charges of sexually assaulting a dolphin — setting off a tabloid storm. He was ultimately acquitted but the unfounded accusation ended up changing the course of Cooper’s life.
The six-part podcast series is hosted by Becky Milligan (“The Home Babies”), who first covered Freddie’s appearance in the North Sea as a student journalist. Milligan, who once swam with Freddie herself, draws on original interviews from the late 1980s and early 1990s as well as new reporting — including interviews with both Cooper and the animal trainer who is said to have accused him — to tell the tale.
Laurence Grissell (“The Californian Century”) exec produces the series with additional production by Seren Jones.
“It’s unbelievable what happened here,” said Rosie Pye, co-founder and creative director at Blanchard House. “Everything about this story will have you hooked! 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.”
Rich Knight, head of U.K. podcast content at Wondery commented: “’Hooked on Freddie’ is an extraordinary story which is both joyously uplifting and deeply poignant. 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.”
Among the shows released by Blanchard House in 2023 are a new true crime series, “Agatha Christie and the Dandelion Poisoner,” from “The Shrink Next Door” host Joe Nocera.
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