Today saw the final recording of Cabin Pressure series 4 – the superb BBC Radio 4 series written by John Finnemore about the trials and tribulations of the crew of MJN Air. Tickets for the recordings were like gold dust with some 17,000 applications having been made for less than 600 available spaces.
I was lucky enough to win tickets in the lottery for the final show so my friend and I arrived bright and early (well dark and misty actually!) to queue outside for the final show. The queue was already very hefty when we arrived at a rather early hour (encountering the always charming Roger Allam on our amble up from the coffee shop)- it’s wonderful to see how many people adore the show.
A rather cold wait later (the joys of London in winter) it was time for the recording of the final two episodes.
First up was the episode starting with the letter X. There were no guest stars in this episode just the central cast of Benedict (Martin Crieff), John Finnemore (Arthur), Stephanie Cole (Carolyn) and Roger Allam (Douglas). The entire episode is based inside Gertie and featured lots of very funny (and marvellously silly!) word games, Douglas being very clever, a mysterious bacon smell and Martin’s hat being put to excellent use. Whilst the show has featured some truly superb guest stars it is always at its absolute strongest when featuring the core cast just interacting with each other. Finnemore loves his characters and it shows. This episode was cheerfully silly and great fun but also had the characters discussing various events in their lives that are unveiled during the course of series 4. It’s great to have an episode which showcases so many of the things about Cabin Pressure that people love – the silly (but actually very clever) word play, the snarky but warm interactions between Douglas and the long suffering Martin and Arthur being joyfully irrepressibly Arthur.
Behind the scenes Stephanie rather amusingly scandalised Benedict early in the episode by messing up her lines and loudly shouting “fiddly arse” in frustration which I think we can all agree is a marvellously creative way of not quite swearing! Shortly after when Benedict fluffed a line he blamed it on the “phantom arse fiddler”. Benedict and Roger also were clearly having a riot reading out some of their interactions.
Then after a brief interval it was on to the final episode of series 4 which starts with a Y. In truth there is virtually nothing that you can say about this episode that isn’t a spoiler as the plot seeks to resolve some of the ongoing storylines. But suffice to say it is an episode which is very much focused on Captain Crieff featuring some really brilliant Martin moments (including two fantastic speeches), the return of the ridiculously dashing Anthony Stewart Head as Hercules and Douglas discovering just what life might be like to be Martin. Apart from all the lovely Martin material the star of this episode was John Finnemore who was just hysterically funny. He’s a very underrated actor and there is a piece in the episode centered around a dragonfruit that had the audience (and indeed Benedict) in stitches. In fact Finnemore managed to make Benedict corpse at least twice during the episode. Is there anything more cheering on a dreary day than Arthur being ridiculously hilarious?
And then there’s that ending.
Oh boy that ending. In many ways it’s a very practical ending but it literally left the whole audience gasping.
Brace yourselves for impact…
Cabin Pressure is produced by David Tyler and the lovely people at Pozzitive and is due to start airing its fourth series on BBC Radio 4 on Wednesday 9th January at 6:30 p.m.
You can see our photos of Benedict from today’s recording (taken before and after the recording) here.