The Week Unwrapped podcast: Erdogan’s last stand, childbirth in prison and Cleopatra

Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days. With Julia O’Driscoll, Harriet Marsden and Jamie Timson.

This episode was recorded before third-party candidate Muharrem İnce withdrew from the Turkish election on Thursday afternoon. His absence is thought likely to increase the chance that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will lose.

You can subscribe to The Week Unwrapped wherever you get your podcasts:

In this week’s episode, we discuss:

Turkish election

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is facing his biggest political challenge yet, as voters prepare to go to the polls in the country’s parliamentary and presidential elections this Sunday. With the economy in crisis and the country still reeling from February’s deadly earthquake, latest predictions indicate that Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu may have enough support to bring an end to Erdoğan’s more than 20 years in power.

Prison maternity care

The inquiry into the death of another newborn in prison, Aisha Cleary in her 18-year-old mother’s cell in HMP Bronzefield Prison in 2019, has further intensified calls for the UK to stop imprisoning pregnant women, due to safety concerns for both mother and baby. In light of evidence that pregnant women behind bars are reportedly seven times more likely to suffer a stillbirth, and face multiple barriers accessing adequate maternal care, is it justifiable to imprison them? Considering the UN recommends non-custodial sentences for pregnant women, what alternatives could the UK consider? 


The casting of British actor Adele James as the eponymous Queen Cleopatra in Netflix’s latest docudrama has caused consternation in Egypt. The country’s ministry for tourism and antiquities said that “Queen Cleopatra had light skin and Hellenistic (Greek) features” while James has “African features and dark skin”. Cleopatra’s heritage is in fact up for debate with historians unable to say exactly what she looked like, but is it healthy to view the past through a modern lens? And what does it say about us when we attempt to reduce one of the most powerful women of all time to her skin colour?