Radio Memories – Cabin Pressure.

Cabin Pressure (BBC Radio 4, 2008-2014)

I have never had that much interest in aviation, and I must admit that I have never been in a plane, even going for a walk makes me go rather giddy. One TV sitcom that I enjoyed about an airline though was The High Life, and this one that had a similar idea did very well on the radio. Cabin Pressure centred around MJN Air, an airline that is very small. Indeed, it has only one plane, a small amount of staff, and it is constantly in financial trouble.

Carolyn (Stephanie Cole) is the bossy owner of the plane, that is known as “Gerti”, who is always hoping that someone will want to travel with them. The staff consist of Douglas Richardson (Roger Allam and his terrific voice again), who is one of the pilots, although he has become rather bitter. There is also Martin Crieff (Benedict Cumberbatch), who is the younger of the two, and earns no money, meaning that he has to run a removal company on the side in his spare time.

And as for Arthur (John Finnemore, also the writer of the show), who is Carolyn’s son… well, you can’t help but love him. In every episode, their plane, which is based in the fictional Fitton, travels somewhere around the world, every location beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. They often have to deal with various troublesome passengers, and also hoping that a bird doesn’t fly into their engines. cp1

There were a small amount of other characters, including regular grumpy passenger Mr Birling (Geoffrey Whitehead doing his thing once again), and Carolyn soon falls for the rather suave captain Hercules Shipwright (Anthony Head). Throw in lots of antics with whiskey bottles and lemons, along with the cast randomly bursting into “Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines”, and you end up with a very entertaining show.

Cabin Pressure gained in popularity very quickly, and by the end of the series, Cumberbatch was well on the way to major success with films, meaning that a record amount of people applied for tickets to watch the final episode being recorded, and it seems that he quickly realised what a large fanbase he now has. The series ended with a special episode which had a rather happy ending for everyone.

There were four series of Cabin Pressure, and along with this, Finnemore also wrote and starred in the sketch show John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme, which also did very well, meaning that he has become somewhat revered as a comedy superstar by many listeners to Radio 4 comedy, although as far as I know he hasn’t done much TV work, so he is still rather unknown in that area. It was a show that always made you want to go to The Flap And Throttle for a quick one.

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