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Well-defined characters, strong casting and great writing do a good sitcom 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 at the lines I now knew 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 a par with Basil Fawlty as the embittered pilot on his way down.
A welcome return for the comedy series where the writing and acting are so tight they’re in danger of cutting off your blood supply. The least attentive and most dangerous budget airline in the world – tag line: no job is too small but many, many are too difficult – is flying a party of adventurous tourists to the North Pole. Never has a tiredness for life been so malevolent as in the heart and mind of First Officer Richardson, played with sanguine vitriol by Roger Allam. Not known for his love and admiration of Captain Crieff (portrayed with suitably browbeaten desperation by Benedict Cumberbatch), this flight sees Richardson annihilate any morsel of dignity that the Captain had stored away. And, my goodness, is it funny to witness.
Jane Anderson, RadioTimes
…an excellent new comedy from Radio 4: Cabin Pressure, about the trials and misfortunes of a budget airline. Well, not really an airline, as the company’s supremo Carolyn explains to her hapless captain, for you cannot arrange one plane in a line. “If anything, it’s an airdot.” This show makes great use of both the misery of failure and the mystery of flying. (There is an excellent running joke about how no one really knows how planes stay in the air.) I cannot find a single flaw in it. So top marks.
Nicholas Lezard, The Independent
John Finnemore’s new situation comedy has the benefit of a superb cast. Roger Allam, Stephanie Cole and Benedict Cumberbatch give their all to this story of a small charter airline whose single plane is flown by one blasé old know-it-all (Allam) and one fiercely competitive young thruster (Cumberbatch). The whole shebang is owned by a fearsome divorcée (Cole) who has come by the plane in a divorce settlement. Her other inheritance is a dim son (played by the author) whose meek optimism is amply reflected in the laughter from the studio audience.
Here’s a diamond in radio’s crown, John Finnemore’s comedy about a small airline. He plays Arthur, daft son of Carolyn the doughty owner (Stephanie Cole, funny and sharp here in a role that suits her perfectly, unlike the ghastly one she struggles with in Coronation Street). Roger Allam and Benedict Cumberbatch play (superbly) the first officer and pilot who fly the plane. Today they’re off to a little place called Qikigtarjuag, with a party of tourists who want to look at polar bears. Group leader Nancy rubs Carolyn up the wrong way. She’ll be sorry!
Welcome return for John Finnemore’s situation comedy about a struggling small charter airline. It’s blessed with a classy cast, Roger Allam, Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephanie Cole as Carolyn, the boss, and Finnemore himself as her perennially perky son Arthur. And today Alison Steadman arrives as Carolyn’s sister. They haven’t spoken for years. Arthur hasn’t bothered to think about that as he’s planned a cheery birthday trip for them all. To Helsinki. He’s booked it on his Mum’s credit card. And she thought it was proper business.
Cabin Pressure is one of the best written, cast, acted and directed comedies on anywhere.
Although only radio can make us picture exactly the single old plane on which this little airline depends, only John Finnemore’s pen plus the sublime talents of Stephanie Cole, Roger Allam, Anthony Head and Anna Crilly could, last Friday, raise a salutary barrier between the turbulent real world on either side of their glorious fiction. Produced and directed, brilliantly, by David Tyler for independents Pozzitive.
Gillian Reynolds, The Daily Telegraph
The fear and joys of flying have been a comedy staple for decades, and every joke it is possible to make has probably been made. The challenge is to tell the old jokes in a new way. So step forward, experienced wordsmith (Dead Ringers, That Mitchell and Webb Sound) John Finnemore, with this new six-part sitcom about a one-plane outfit run by an autocratic divorcée (Stephanie Cole, doing her usual posh bully bit).
Her aircraft has two pilots, one a jaded cynic with a dodgy past who can, though, actually fly (played to worldweary perfection by Roger Allam) and one who seemed to have got his wings through a correspondence college (Benedict Cumberbatch, showing he can do situation comedy as well as he does everything else in the thesp game).
Chuck in Finnemore himself as Cole’s keen but dim son-of-all work, plus an unusually high level of well-researched technical information about flying, and you have a half-hour that flies by (fnaarg fnaarg).
Chris Campling, The Times
The key to the programme’s success is having distinct, well-drawn characters entertaining through almost ceaselessly witty conversation. This is, after all, radio, and whilst at first thought, it might seem easier than producing television comedy, such a programme cannot rely on funny expressions or the occasional sight gag. It all lives or dies with the turn of a phrase, and whether or not one wishes to spend a half hour with the characters made to turn it. This is where Cabin Pressure excels.
Jeff Fyke, Nerditorial (full article)
Having listened to the show I feel slightly ashamed by the fact that I missed the first two series and now feel a desperate need to catch up
Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats