“We’d always been hoping to make a second season of Swipe Left Swipe Left, and when Stabl approached us with the opportunity to do just that, we were thrilled. We’d been living in New Zealand and were hoping to get the ball rolling on season 2 when we got back to the UK in June 2020, but everything changed when the Covid-19 pandemic took the world by surprise.
We were just at the beginning of a road trip across New Zealand, and hoping to travel through the States on our way back to Europe, but then, Jacinda Ardern announced her badass, no nonsense lockdown policy. The Air BnB we’d initially booked for two nights at the base of Mount Taranaki would become our home/ studio/ office/ life for the next few months.
By the way, when I say “we” I mean Gavin, myself and my little brother, Archie, who had come for a two week holiday to visit and was now stuck in New Zealand. Plus the amazing family who were hosting us, Linda, Michael, Edward and Thomas, their little dog, Max, and the mafia-boss of a cat, Jeff.
It seemed like the opportune time to hunker down and get busy on a season 2. Plus, we had one of SLSL’s regular contributors trapped with us, and a household of others who we could probe for stories! Everything was in place, and so we got down to business.
We knew that it would be challenging to make the series under the lockdown conditions. We wouldn’t be able to get people into studios or record them in person, but on the other hand, it also made things easier. Most people suddenly had a lot of time on their hands, and were willing to hop on the phone and talk. Collecting stories is one of the more challenging aspects of making Swipe Left Swipe Left. It’s not always an easy sell – “hey, what’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done, would you like to share that story for public consumption?” – but people were so bored, they seemed very happy to reminisce about their past adventures on tape. Some people had microphones at home so they could record themselves, others we recorded over WhatsApp or Zoom. The audio quality isn’t always the best, but actually I like that the episodes have clearly been produced under the conditions of the pandemic. It grounds them in the strangeness of this time, like when you’re listening to the BBC World Service and you hear birdsong behind the news anchor who’s reading from home in her pyjamas. Obviously Covid-19 has been a terrible thing, but there is also that kind of “snow day” feeling about the lockdown, a suspension of reality which added a kind of magic to the production of this season.
To be making something so playful in the midst of this grim global situation felt like a tonic. We hoped that the season would bring a bit of lightness and light to listeners in lockdown all around the world. We’ve been delighted to see that this season has had such a wide global reach, and that the feedback from listeners has been so positive. I do feel proud when reading comments about Swipe Left Swipe Left being the highlight of someone’s week. That feels amazing.
If you’ve been following the season so far, you’ll have noticed that we’ve broadened the theme. We loved producing awkward dating stories for the first season, but what we REALLY loved, was having very candid conversations with people about how they’d fucked up, and laughing about it with them. Our mantra has always been “an embarrassment shared, is an embarrassment halved” and we wanted to spread that philosophy to other aspects of life because although a huge amount of awkward encounters happen on the quest for romance, they also happen at work, in the gym and in the swimming pool. So why not include those too? And so we have. And we hope you’ll agree that they’re a welcome addition to the podcast.
One of the things I love about my job is the fact I get to talk to people in this very intimate and honest way, I get to ask probing, personal questions that might not be acceptable under the rules of normal social convention. It’s such a pleasure to cut straight through the small talk and dive straight into the good stuff with someone. I’m so thankful to everyone that agreed to let their guard down and expose their humanity to our eager ears. It’s so good to remember that we’re all a bunch of mugs muddling through life, and if we can try and see the funny side, we might just be alright.”
Episode 6, Season 2