Last post, I talked about several of the radio dramas and audiobooks that I listen to. Today’s post is about my favorite radio show – a British radio sitcom called “Cabin Pressure.”
This past Thanksgiving break, I introduced my riders for the trip to my favorite radio sitcom, “Cabin Pressure.” (Thankfully, they liked it. We only listened to it for about 11 hours…)
“Cabin Pressure” was written by John Finnemore and relates the struggles of a small charter airline trying to stay afloat. However, MJN Air’s owner Carolyn Knapp-Shappey (Stephanie Cole) will undoubtedly assure you that she does not run an airline, she runs an airdot. (In order to have an airline, you must have more than one plane. You cannot put one plane in a line. Since she only owns one plane, she has an airdot.)
Carolyn has a small crew with such clashing personalities that you wonder how they possibly get along. But somehow it all works.
Her captain, Martin Crieff (Benedict Cumberbatch), is nervous and meek, with his most desperate wish being that people will finally realize that he actually is the captain of the aircraft.
But most people always assume that the first officer, Douglas Richardson (Roger Allam), is the captain, mostly because Douglas is a self-assured, smooth-talking, sarcastic ex-pilot. Douglas’ favorite pastime is to drive Martin up the wall with ridiculous games or snarky comments (and is there really a better time to annoy someone that much than when stuck in the cockpit of an airplane with them?).
And finally, every airplane needs a steward, and Carolyn’s son, Arthur, fills that role. Arthur is the most simple-minded of the crew, but that combined with his enthusiasm for his job just makes him very endearing.
The characters are so well-written that the audience gets drawn into the story and truly cares about what happens. Will MJN survive all their ups and downs? Has someone finally done something stupid enough to lose their customers? Will the four crew members be able to eat 400 quiches? How will they get a piano to Ottery St. Mary from Fitton when everything comes crashing down around them? How long can a cat survive in an unheated cargo hold at 34,000 feet? How many Hitchcock references can Douglas fit in a cabin address?
Finnemore’s comedic genius comes through his scripts and through his performance as Arthur. This shows highlights many different tones of humor – the sarcastic, the dry, the ignorant and the truly hilarious, just to name a few. All of the episodes are high-quality productions. Finnemore’s brilliance and style have never wavered throughout the existing 25 episodes, and I expect the series finale will be as strong an episode as the others. Finnemore’s brilliance stretches to the episode names. So far, the show has gone from “Abu Dhabi” to “Yverdon-les-Bains,” with the final episode titled “Zurich.”Yes, Finnemore created a 26-episode long sitcom with titles running in (mostly) alphabetical order.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. The final episode of “Cabin Pressure” was recorded on Feb. 23 to be aired sometime this year (and it can’t come soon enough for me!).