New BBC Radio 4 podcast strand Extreme launches with Muscle Men

New BBC Radio 4 podcast strand Extreme launches with Muscle Men

The first series is hosted by historian, podcaster and fitness expert Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, presenter of hit podcast ‘Welcome To Your Fantasy’

July 10, 2024 – New BBC Radio 4 podcast strand Extreme will tell stories from across the globe about the people who have pushed their minds and bodies to extremes in the pursuit of strength, fame, world records, or beauty, and in doing so changed the course of history. From cosmetic surgery converts to adrenaline-junkies, Extreme seeks to understand how humans have tested the limits of what is physically possible.

The first series, Muscle Men, combines a gripping slice of true-crime with a fascinating piece of social history. Hosted by historian of culture, politics, and fitness Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, Muscle Men will unravel the story of how an amateur bodybuilder named William Dillon, together with maverick “steroid guru” Dan Duchaine and former Olympic athlete David Jenkins, launched the largest steroid trafficking ring the USA had ever seen.

William Dillon was a young weightlifter from rural Illinois who in 1984 made the pilgrimage to the sweat-drenched gyms of Los Angeles to follow in the footsteps of his bodybuilding heroes. In the process, Dillon was caught up in a growing chemical, and criminal, revolution – becoming involved in one of the world’s biggest steroid dealing rings. All driven by a drive for bodily perfection that changed the way we look in the mirror. As steroid use began to grip small-town gym-goers, pro bodybuilders and elite athletes, the cops, legislators and the world of international sport scrambled to crack down on the alluring promise that you can get ripped, quick.

From the star-studded world of Gold’s Gym, LA’s most iconic bodybuilding gym, through to the underground world of steroid trafficking, the eight-part series will explore how the 80s transformed the way we see our bodies, and the lengths to which we’ll go to in the pursuit of perfection.

Natalia Petrzela says: “Through a gripping story of a powerful steroid ring and the men who built it – and many muscled physiques in the process – Muscle Men provides a fascinating lens on how phenomena emanate from subculture to mainstream. We would not have superhero bodies on screen, or on your local gym floor, or our current discourse about performance-enhancing drugs, if it were not for the steroids Dillon, Duchaine and Jenkins helped popularize beyond the bodybuilding world. This is exactly the kind of story that lights me up as a scholar and a storyteller, and I am so excited “

Commissioning Editor Daniel Clarke says “With so many young men continuing to turn to steroids in a quest for the ‘perfect’ body, we wanted to explore how they entered the mainstream. Natalia is the perfect host for this first series in our new Extreme strand, bringing her fitness expertise alongside an astute understanding of recent American history.”

Extreme: Muscle Men begins on BBC Radio 4 on 29 July at 3.30pm.

The first two episodes will be available on BBC Sounds on the 29 July – with the first episode also available on RSS from that date. New episode will be released weekly on Mondays. It is produced by Novel for the BBC.

BBC Radio 4

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