The High Life (BBC2, 1994-1995)
In recent years there has been a great sitcom on BBC Radio 4 called Cabin Pressure, about the adventures of a small airline. Many people have suggested that there should be a TV version, but if there isn’t going to be one then people needn’t worry because there is already a terrific TV sitcom that was set in an airline that was shown two decades ago called The High Life.
The show was written by and starred Alan Cumming and Forbes Masson who at that point had also been a comedy double-act for many years. They played two amusingly daft Scottish air stewards called Sebastian and Steve who worked at Air Scotia and were always getting into scrapes.
The other main cast members were their horrible chief stewardess Shona who got on with nobody and the rather dozy captain who didn’t seem to know what he was doing half the time who was called Hilary Duff (not to be confused with the young American actress of course). The show opened and closed with a rather showbiz song and dance routine and as every episode descended into chaos as they had mishaps with the crew and passengers Sebastian and Scott could often be heard to say their amusing catchphrase “oh, dearie me!”.
BBC2 seemed to be producing a lot of quirky sitcoms around this time as this was definitely another one. The rather bizarre plots included the cast entering the Eurovision Song Contest, and an episode involving espionage and biscuits that was done in the style of Batman which was one of my favourites, but they were all great really. The show was very funny and there were great performances by all of the cast.
The High Life was a great but short-lived show, although the premise probably couldn’t have been stretched much beyond the seven episodes that were made, and after it ended Alan Cumming went on to further success as an actor in many films. The show was one of the first that I bought on DVD over a decade ago now, and I think that it was also the first Network release that I bought, which made me discover the potential that the company had to release some great archive material on DVD. It’s definitely another classic comedy show that I’d recommend.