These narratives originate from the turbo-capitalist era, showcasing tales of enterprise and commerce brimming with intense theatrics and even loftier risks. Within a fresh podcast accessible on BBC Sounds, titled “Good Bad Billionaire,” the spotlight is directed towards individuals who have amassed immense fortunes, narrating their chronicles. The inaugural episode immerses itself in the saga of Jeff Bezos, the architect behind Amazon, tracing his odyssey from the inception of Amazon to his ascent as one of the globe’s wealthiest and most renowned figures.
Subsequent instalments feature billionaires such as the music sensation Rihanna, the visionary mind behind Star Wars and Indiana Jones – George Lucas, and the business magnate intertwined with popular culture, Kim Kardashian.
In each edition, Simon and Zing meticulously unfold the narrative of a singular billionaire through three segments:
Segment 1: From Naught to a Million: We trace the footsteps of these billionaires from their inaugural employment to their attainment of the first million.
Segment 2: From a Million to a Billion: The narrative gains momentum as the focus figure propels towards staggering echelons of affluence.
Segment 3: The Virtuous, The Malevolent, and the Affluent: This is where Simon and Zing draw the curtain on the narrative and assess the accomplishments of the central persona, reaching a verdict on whether they stand as commendable, condemnable, or merely prosperous.
With each episode, Simon and Zing render their ultimate evaluation of every billionaire, allotting ratings on a scale of 1 to 10 across categories encompassing benevolence, malevolence, authority, and legacy.
Zing Tsjeng, Editor-in-chief at VICE says: “Researching these billionaires’ stories has been truly fascinating. The one-percenters we cover have been on some gripping journeys to personal fortune – some more, er, convoluted and tricky than others – and it’s been eyebrow-raising seeing the different choices they made when deciding how to amass and spend their wealth. I can’t wait to hear what the listeners think about the people we’ve featured and our judgement of them.”
Simon Jack, BBC Business Editor says: “Whether you are horrified or inspired by the mega-rich, their influence is hard to ignore. Tracing the path to super wealth of the likes of Jeff Bezos, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and others also tells us something about ourselves and the things we need, value or enjoy. Recording Good Bad Billionaire together with Zing has been fascinating and fun and I can’t wait to hear what the listeners think.”
New episodes of Good Bad Billionaire will be available weekly on BBC Sounds from 29 August.