Cabin Pressure: The Collected Series 1-3 Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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The first three series of the award-winning Cabin Pressure – plus bonus Christmas episode!
About the Author
John Finnemore is a British comedy writer and actor, best known for his radio sitcom Cabin Pressure and his radio sketch show John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, as well as for frequent appearances on other BBC Radio 4 comedy shows such as The Now Show.
Top customer reviews
Radio comedy has been hit and miss for years, its best shows soon departing for BBC TV while weaker ones seem to drag on for series after series because of the absence of anything better to replace it with. Cabin Pressure is unlikely to make the transition to the box because of a combination of the budget required for a series that follows a charter airline on its bargain basement travels across the globe and the commissioning of the Little Britain team's Come Fly With Me, but it certainly is one of the best comedies BBC Radio has come up with in years. It's a simple premise that's basically a four hander between Stephanie Cole's authoritarian owner, trying to keep her one plane in the air and out of debt, her idiot son John Finnemore (clearly not so idiotic in real-life since he wrote the show), Benedict Cumberbatch's insecure middle class pilot and Roger Allam's gloriously deprecating co-pilot. Luckily the casting is inspired, with the four playing off each other perfectly and being blessed with great dialogue as they either ward off the boredom or deal with their far more difficult than they should be charters, whether it's obnoxious passenger who insist on smoking or obnoxious drunks who are spectacularly big tippers - but only if you grovel enough. As comedy it doesn't reinvent the wheel, but the first series certainly keeps it spinning with real panache and plenty of genuine laughs.
"Arthur is basically just a passenger in a hat, and that's only because he made himself a hat."
The second series shows only a marginal loss of altitude and still provides plenty of laughs. Working on the principle that if it ain't broke, don't fix it - perhaps not so applicable to a show about a cut-price charter airline where if it IS broke, don't fix it and it'll hopefully sort itself out - the formula is the same, with only new destinations and a few new revelations about the characters this time round. Once again it's an enjoyable four-hander between Stephanie Cole's authoritarian owner, her idiot son John Finnemore, Benedict Cumberbatch's insecure upper class pilot (who finally lets slip how he became a Captain so young) and Roger Allam's glorious deprecating co-pilot, and once again they play off each other perfectly. This time round they face obstacles like having to go on a refresher Safety and Emergency course, ferry a very dysfunctional orchestra complete with conspiracy theorist who thinks the crew are trying to kill her to Gdansk, deal with a very obstructive ground control in Spain to win a bet, ferry some very disgruntled relatives and, as always, come up with stupid games to while away the boring hours in the air. It may not quite match the first class standard of the first series, but it's still a hugely enjoyable flight that you'll take more than just once.
"To be quite honest with you, Captain, I don't think there's a whole lot about this plane full of unsupervised otters the CAA is going to love."
The third series runs into some surprising moments of turbulence, making it occasionally disappointing and the weakest of the first three, but even occasionally disappointing Cabin Pressure is better than any other sitcom on BBC Radio at the moment. The situation is the same, but the tone is more uncertain this time round. The first episode is at times overplayed when Finnemore's writing has always benefited from a dry, straight delivery to counterpoint the moments of silliness, though it thankfully rights itself when the second episode sees Birling Day return and Allam plotting to steal the obnoxious big tipper's expensive whisky. The third episode is slightly disadvantaged by Benedict Cumberbatch losing his voice and having to be replaced at the last minute by Tom Goodman-Hill, who does a decent impersonation of Cumberbatch but understandably tends to stick out despite a clever introduction.
Yet there's still much to enjoy, whether it's the usual in-flight games to wile away the boredom - this time working Hitchcock movie titles into a passenger safety announcement and a hypothetical plane full of unsupervised otters - the introduction of Anthony Head's Herc (named after the Hercules plane rather than the Greek hero) as Cole's romantic interest and plenty of askew observations from Finnemore, among them the notion that motorway services are "like a little gang of shops that have gone on holiday together." While the highly enjoyable Christmas special episode was not included on either the individual series two or three CD sets, it is available in this collected edition of the first three series, which leaves those who bought the individual series having to buy this to fill in the gaps - the kind of double-dipping tactic BBC's video arm is notorious for with the likes of Doctor Who and Tony Hancock.
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