“‘Cause I could eat the flying fish. I know what you’re thinking: why doesn’t the fish fly away? Well, they can’t really fly, they sort of glide and flap; they should be called 'glidey flappy’ fish.” - Extras Christmas Special
Every time I
have to take a plane I bring with me a few Cabin Pressure episodes for the
ride. It’s become a tradition. And as I’ll be catching a flight in a few hours,
let’s talk about this wonderful radio series!
Pressure is one of the most celebrated radio sitcoms ever. Written and created
by John Finnemore, directed and produced by David Tyler. It was first
broadcasted on BBC Radio 4 and every now and then you can catch some episodes
on BBC Radio 4 Extra. Also, you can download episodes through iTunes and a few
other podcast apps. A couple years ago I
got the Complete CD Collection as a Christmas present and, if you still use
CDs, it’s totally worth it.
– To be honest I’m not a huge fan of sitcoms. I get bored easily and I cringe
at too much silliness and absurdity. In Cabin Pressure there’s a lot of both,
but somehow it doesn’t feel forced. Is like… when you have never seen anything
from Monthy Python and you start watching the Holy Grail. An important part in
the “fresh humor” feeling is that the four main characters evolve through the
series (some more than others). And as they change and their interactions
change, jokes adapt. The conflicts addressed and its resolution feel natural.
Also, the cabin calls and all of the word games. ALL OF THEM. And the iconic
dynamics between the characters – The four main characters are the two pilots,
the owner and the son (and flight attendant) of a very small charter airline
based at Fitton. Namely, a naïve perfectionist Captain Martin Criff, a seasoned
and smooth First Officer Douglas Richardson, a very bossy Carolyn Knapp-Shappey and a very… brilliant
acting – The main characters are voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch as Martin,
Roger Allam as Douglas, Stephanie Cole as Carolyn and John Finnemore as Arthur.
Other characters voiced by Timothy West, Matilda Ziegler, Geoffrey Whitehead or
Anthony Head. I fell completely in love with Roger Allam here.
26 half an hour episodes (the last one a two-parter) spanning all the letters
from A (Abu Dhabi) to Z (Zurich), in a way, reflecting Martin’s journey. The
original broadcast wasn’t exactly in alphabetical order but that was the
intended order, so I’d recommend you to keep it (It’s not very important to
stick to the order in the first season, but the later episodes will make more
sense if you do so).
start then? Well, Abu Dhabi is the intended start but if you find it too silly,
I’d recommend you to give a second try to Douz or Gdansk.
my favorite episodes that will keep me company on the plane behind the cut
If you were left scratching your head last December over what all those drawings of pilots were about, or are curious to try this Cabin Pressure show but don’t want to put money down on an unknown quantity, it is your lucky day! Radio 4 Extra is rerunning Series 3, so you can hear the story behind these images for free:
Qikiqtarjuaq: Polar bears, professionalism, the Travelling Lemon, and a zany British sense of humour
Paris: The Yogi Bear of the Drinks Cupboard vs Just Like Miss Marple
Newcastle: How long will it take for one jet carrying six people to travel from Fitton to Newcastle?