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  • Iain Donnelly

What have I learned from doing the Tango Juliet Foxtrot podcast?

Updated: May 14

Creating the Tango Juliet Foxtrot podcast has been one of the most life-affirming things I have ever done.

I have lived a full life. Most of it has been great, and some of it has been horrible. However, the podcast has allowed me and others to talk about things that are often hard to talk about. It’s about as ‘real’ as it gets, and in a British culture described by Matthew Parris in the Times this week as “celebrity-obsessed, rights-obsessed, blame-obsessed, sex-obsessed, woke-obsessed….fixated on trashy entertainment and a culture of blaming, complaining and shaming” that is quite a rare thing.

Podcasts quickly render mainstream radio slightly ridiculous and irrelevant, constrained as radio is by Ofcom regulations around the use of specific language and the discussion of difficult subject matter. This renders much of radio an inane background soundtrack to the lives of real people living often painful and chaotic lives in the real world.

So what have I learned?

1. There’s a deep hunger to hear some positivity about UK policing.

Tango Juliet Foxtrot is the only podcast in the UK that discusses every aspect of policing past and present. Policing is under pressure like never before, and there is a growing crisis in the morale and mental health of the poor buggers going out day after day to try and help a society that shows them no love, respect or support. The media seem to hate the police, and politicians pile on to every bad news story.

The podcast is a celebration of the fantastic people in policing, which resonates strongly with the people doing the job.

2. There are so many people with incredible stories to tell

The police service past and present has some incredible people who have done extraordinary things, so it’s great to let them tell their stories to someone who gives a shit.

3. Speaking with honesty is incredibly liberating

Police officers are gagged at work. They are not encouraged to speak with honesty. The culture does not encourage honest feedback, particularly upward feedback towards managers. This needs to change, because it's not working.


Working as a hospice chaplain can be emotionally gruelling sometimes. Still, it’s also an incredible privilege to sit and talk to people who will often share their deepest secrets, fears and sometimes their shame to help them come to terms with what is happening to them. The hospice is a ‘zero-bullshit’ place, and so is the podcast.

4. Learning a new creative skill is good for you

Learning anything new is good for you. I have done the podcast 100% on my own from day one with no help from anyone. I made some huge mistakes in the early days. I have lost files, accidentally deleted stuff and lost my way in interviews. However, I now know (more or less) what I’m doing and creating new, exciting content is unbelievably satisfying.

5. The feedback has been 100% positive

I was terrified (genuinely) when I started and expected something of a backlash. It never came. Everyone has been super-supportive.

6. The feedback underlines the enormous gap between Federated ranks and senior officers

Everyone knows that there is a bit of a gulf between PCs, Sergeants and Inspectors and their senior managers. Nearly all the feedback I receive is from the former. Hardly any is from the latter. That says something in itself.

7. Privately, many police officers disclose feeling desperate

I think this speaks for itself. I receive loads of emails and messages from social media. Many police officers are struggling to keep it together. My podcast tells them that it’s OK to feel like this. I encourage them to talk and to get help. However, this is not a good situation, and something needs to change and change quickly to make them feel valued trying to do an increasingly thankless job.

The podcast continues to evolve and I put out a new episode every week. If you know someone who would be a great guest, please let me know by email at iain@tjfbook.com.


You can also find me on the Tango Juliet Foxtrot Facebook page.


You can listen to the podcast here; https://www.tjfbook.com/podcast.


You can also find it on all the usual podcast platforms (Apple, Spotify, Podbean, Amazon Music, Google podcasts etc.)


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