I have found the funniest new show. I play it over and over, I laugh out loud on my own, I have learned to love the characters AND did I say I play it over and over? Seriously, I know most of the 4 seasons by heart. And, here’s the kicker….it’s a radio show! It’s called “Cabin Pressure” and it’s AH-MAZING. The writer, John Finnemore, is a genius.
I describe it (for those fans of British TV) as a Fawlty Towers in the air (so I was pretty happy to read a Radio Times review that agreed with me and compared a character to Basil Fawlty). It follows the goings-on of a charter airline (or charter jet because there’s only one plane in the airline). There are four main characters that are so well-developed that I’m actually happy that I don’t see it because radio shows let you realize how wonderfully descriptive and imaginative your brain is.
Character #1: Carolyn Knapp-Shappey. Got the plane as part of her divorce settlement and decided to call the company MJN Air (My Jet Now Air) in order to spite her ex. She does not suffer fools gladly and is always right. She could be said to have one motto for how she deals with her customers: they are always wrong.
Character #2: Captain Martin Crieff. Played by Benedict Cumberbatch (you know my love for him and while reading about him got me on to this show it has now become so much more to me than simply a “Cumberbatch production”). Captain Crieff is CAPTAIN and makes sure everyone knows it though passengers never seem to believe him. He is the straight man: he goes by the book when it comes to his job (in fact he actually memorized the manual).
Character #3: First Officer Douglas Richardson. Can fix any problem, a total schemer. Used to be a pilot for Air England but got fired (in the words of the BBC Radio 4 description) “after a difference of opinion with Hong Kong customs about whether having seven silk kimonos stitched inside one’s jackets indicated one was a smuggler… or simply a lovable eccentric” Whether it’s smuggling things between the different stops (a cockpit full of orchids for cases of fish in Helsinki? not bad when you figure he started several months ago by trading goods for a cheese sandwich), starting games for the flight (some of the best include trying to fit Sinatra songs into in-flight announcements, Simon Says in the cockpit, speaking in words of only one syllable during the flight including announcements, etc.) and he is always up for a bet which he somehow always wins. Definitely always has an angle. He teases Captain Crieff mercilessly.
Character #4: Arthur Shappey. Son of Carolyn. Steward for MJN. Well-meaning, enthusiastic, but well…not much is going on upstairs. Very sweet. He is in a word “Brilliant” (which is also how he describes everything in life).
Every episode is a different flight and lasts 30 min. Download it NOW, you will thank me. I listen to it when I walk or when I’m on the bus and people look at me like I’m crazy because I never stop laughing – even when it’s my umpteenth time listening to an episode (I just laugh harder because I know how funny the next part is going to be).
Here are clips I found online (be sure to read the descriptions on youtube for context):
You will never think of pilots or flying the same!
But don’t take my word for it, here are some reviews from the website:
A properly polished and funny sitcom. set in the world of a one-line charter airline, this is bung-full of good lines and great characters…It’s well worth climbing aboard for this highly entertaining journey.
The Daily Mail
Well defined characters; strong casting and great writing do a good sit-com make. Sounds easy, but few get it right. I am, therefore, delighted to announce that this new series is so funny that I listened to it three times in a row, laughing more loudly each time the lines I now know were coming. It’s set in a small airline company staffed by two pilots and run by a forbidding 60-something woman who, one of her staff suggests, sharpens rather than brushes her teeth in the morning. Roger Allam’s character is on par with Basil Fawlty as the embittered pilot on his way down.
Unexpectedly brilliant this. Unexpectedly because all the action takes place in the not-very-promising location of an aircraft flight deck. Brilliant because it’s from the pen of John Finnemore, who has a real genius for screamingly funny put-downs and one-liners.
Radio sitcom success stories are rare: let’s hope this one’s in for the long haul.
Excellent new comedy from Radio 4, about the trials and misfortunes of a budget airline… I cannot find a single flaw in it. So top marks
Independent on Sunday
So, there you have it, download it and laugh away. I know you’ll thank me AND that you will grow to love the characters as much as I do and will never stop listening to it (in fact, if you’re like me, you’ll start deleting other things from your iPod so you have room for all 4 seasons to play on command). It’s filmed in front of a live studio audience and attending a recording is now top of my bucket list.
Let me know what you think!
Wishing you the best of everything,