At some point this year, I became absolutely obsessed with Cabin Pressure. If you’re not aware of it, Cabin Pressure is a Radio 4 sitcom, penned by John Finnemore and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephanie Cole and Finnemore himself. It follows the plight of a small charter airline (although you can’t put just one plane in a line) and it is brilliant.
I don’t remember where I heard of it, but with a little bit of an iTunes gift card remaining, I snapped up the first series and gave it a listen. I was almost instantly hooked, and bought the rest as soon as I could.
Each episode is titled with the destination the crew are flying to, and it runs from A to (so far) Y. Through four series, we’ve followed our heroes as they’ve zig-zagged across the globe, run out of money, carried film stars and royalty, fallen in and out of love, and generally tried not to hurt the always exasperating but generally lovable cabin steward Arthur.
Now, there is just going to be one more, feature length special, to finish off the alphabet and wave goodbye to the series. On the one hand, I’m sad that it’s coming to an end just as I’ve found it, but on the other hand, it’s so good that I respect the decision to send it out on a high. I’m bound to listen to each episode over and over, anyway, so it’s not like there won’t be any more Cabin Pressure in my ears!
What’s brilliant about the show is how witty and well-planned each episode is. It has that knack that the best sitcoms have, to place something insignificant at the beginning of an episode only to have it become the crux at the end, with everything winding to a conclusion you probably didn’t see coming. Some of the wordplay is exquisite, and it’s great to join in with the games the pilots are playing in their attempts to fend off cabin boredom.
It also shows how special the show is that despite varying degrees of fame (Cumberbatch is pretty huge at this point), each of the actors will always come back to do another series. The episodes have become somewhat self-aware over the years, with some references and in-jokes. The episode were Benedict was off-sick springs to mind, and I’m sure I heard a Sherlock quote or two.
I highly recommend checking out the series’ if you haven’t already, and I thank John Finnemore for bringing Martin, Caroline, Douglas and Arthur into the world and sharing them with us!