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Five podcasts Harry and Meghan definitely didn’t pitch to Spotify (but probably could have)

The Spotify logo superimposed on an image of a smiling Duke and Duchess of Sussex
Off-air spare: Harry and Meghan did not expect Spotify executives to reject so many of their podcast ideas

We do not yet know how many more books Omid Scobie, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s official-unofficial chargé d’affaires in the real world, has left in him. Scobie is 42 years old but seems to be ageing both in reverse and at a canter, as if eventually he might look so young that the Sussexes see fit to adopt him. If that happens, his capacity could be limitless.

Fingers crossed he’s not laying down his hatchet just yet, though, because like all great art, his latest effort, Endgame: Inside the Royal Family and the Monarchy’s Fight for Survival, provokes as many questions as it answers.

Why, for instance, is he so obsessed with the Queen’s sex life? Has it occurred to him that he may be suffering from acute main character syndrome when he recounts that Prince William gave him “an unimpressed stare” through the windscreen of a Range Rover once? And who, but who, are the royal racists who enquired about the baby’s skin tone? It’s all Dutch to me. Or all in one of the Dutch versions, anyway.

In many ways Endgame is very much Omid’s Metamorphoses, and an example of a now familiar, most modern fairy tale: that of the famous people who lose power and then, unsure what else they should do to maintain their renown, decide they have no option but to become podcasters.

It’s within these chapters where we find the standout teaser. Scobie, in a distressing passage about how the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were left in penury when “the royal institution cut them off from all funding and security”, explains how they were forced into “sign[ing] some lucrative deals they might have thought twice about had they not been under so much financial pressure”.

Omid Scobie outside the High Court for the Daily Mirror hacking case in May 2023
Splitting heirs: Omid Scobie puts himself at the centre of his new book, Endgame, while hinting at the rift between the Duke of Sussex and the Prince of Wales - Belinda Jiao

We’ve all been there: coerced into putting pen to paper on multi-multimillion-dollar deals with streaming giants to develop audio content, despite having no great desire to make a podcast. Or to do anything, really, besides go to Beyoncé gigs and stuff. Relatable.

“When the couple signed a contract worth up to $20 million (£16m) with Spotify […] neither of the two expected executives to turn down so many of their ideas,” the Endgame passage continues. “The streamer, said a company source, was only interested in paying out for juicy goods that could generate major headlines and bring in subscriptions.”

Scobie, the old tease. “Neither of the two expected executives to turn down so many of their ideas.” He just skips right past that line, without adding any further context, or even any wild and completely unsourced speculation – which is thoroughly out of character.

Harry and Meghan had ideas so weak or demented that even Spotify, a company that said yes to Archetypes – the 12-episode podcast, which ran for a year, in which Meghan mostly just chatted to mates – said, “Respectfully, that sounds dreadful.”

Yet we don’t get to hear what those rejected concepts were. What is the point of having a hotline straight to the Montecito nerve centre of the Sussex operation if you aren’t going to ask? We needed this. We deserved this. So now I have no choice but to imagine them. Thanks, Omid.

The Rest Is Silence

Harry and Meghan’s pitch: “A question for you, folks: What is so fragile that saying its name breaks it? …No? No one? It’s ‘silence’. The answer is silence. In the modern world, we’re surrounded by noise – it’s deafening, right? Even in Montecito we’re like, ‘Aargh! Will someone turn those cicadas down! We don’t pay the gardeners for nothing!’ Ha-ha, no, we love those guys. But we’re serious. Do you know what the most precious commodity is? It’s not money, or security – though those things are really good. No, it’s time. Wait no, sorry. Silence. It’s silence.

“Nobody has enough of it, so here’s our idea: for 45 minutes a week, every episode of The Rest Is Silence will provide that quiet. No words. No music. No unnecessary jingles. Just… Nothing. Maybe the occasional advert for BetterUp or Archewell, but other than that, silence. What do you think? We can see you’re embracing silence right now, which is a good first step!”

The response from Spotify: “Popular as we would be in certain circles if we were the company that finally managed to render the two of you silent (or is it silenced?), on balance we would rather you did some work in exchange for our money. But thank you all the same.”

Scobie Dobie Doo, Where Are You? We Got Some Work To Do Now

The pitch: “You can hear the theme tune already, are we right? So it’s Omid Scobie in the role of, yes, the great Scooby-Doo, and every week we give him a new mystery to solve. But first, we have to find him! Usually he is by our bins, for some reason, so that part is quick. Anyway, an example of a mystery we might have him explore is, like, ‘Omid, come quick! Someone in the Royal family is a total bitch, but don’t tell anyone we told you that. Can you find out who it is?’ And he goes off and considers the options. Or another episode could be, like, ‘Omid, come quick! It has been several months since the media obsessed over us. Can you solve this quandary?’ Or…”

The response: “Hmmm. This feels more like a book. Or two books.”

The Duchess of Sussex attending Wimbledon in 2018
Meg's Benedict, anyone?: who wouldn't want to hear the Duchess of Sussex and Benedict Cumberbath (or Allen) discussing their respective weeks? - Karwai Tang/WireImage

Meg’s Benedict

The pitch: “We’re blue-skying here, this one is embryonic. But every week, Meghan and Benedict Cumberbatch could meet and chat. Just, like, about what they’ve been up to, or about acting, or about being parents or whatever. We thought of it at breakfast the other day. We think it could be good?”

The response: “Yeah, this is a hard no. And Harry, we did get your email, but it does not make it better if you change it to Benedict Allen, the explorer. That is, in fact, an even worse idea.”

Prince William’s So Annoying, Ugh!

The pitch: “Two words: ‘Prince Harry: Unleashed.’ I can just riff on Wills for a few hours every month. Man, that guy is such a loser! And he is not stronger than me. Never has been. I always out-wrestled that goof. I could even do my impression of him. Listen, I’ll do it now: ‘Oooo, I’m Willy, I’m going to be King, I’m bald, blah blah blah’. What do you think?”

The response: “We think maybe this is better for your therapist, Harry. But if they pass, we will reconsider.”

Princes Harry and William looking sullen while flanking their father, the then Prince of Wales, at a funeral in 2013
Sons of monarchy: a podcast where the Duke of Sussex reveals all about his relationship with his brother would surely be a hit in the ratings - Karwai Tang/WireImage

Desert Island Discs

The pitch: “OK, last chance. Here goes. Each week, a guest, called a ‘castaway’ during the programme, is asked to choose eight audio recordings (usually, but not always, music), a book and a luxury item that they would take if they were to be cast away on a desert island, while discussing their life and the reasons for their choices.”

The response: “Are you serious? This is literally the third sentence on the Wikipedia page for the beloved and long-running BBC Radio 4 series Desert Island Discs, and you know it. You’re reading it from your phone right now, Harry! We can see the page open! Get out of here, both of you.”