Cabin Pressure, B.B.C. Radio Four. Series Four Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *

Cast: Benedict Cumberpatch, Roger Allam, Stephanie Cole, John Finnemore.

The B.B.C. has always given comedy shows that gain a good following on the radio a big leg up to television when the time was right, the crossover a seamless and natural curve in the life of decent shows that grow up to big favourites on the small screen. From the days of Hancock’s Half Hour , the B.B.C. has nurtured the radio comedy like a gleaming talented child. It is a bit surprising to find that even after four series of the hilarious and cleverly written B.B.C. Four Extra programme Cabin Pressure, it still doesn’t seem to be any closer to getting the nod to transfer over.

It maybe that it stars one of the most bankable actors on television and film at the moment in the Captain’s chair, the very cool Benedict Cumberbatch but these things can be got round.

Cabin Pressure in season four sees Martin (John Finnemore) and Douglas (Roger Allam), the neurotic Captain and his First Officer, battling through sheer force of wits and the occasional word play game such as tag team film titles for example, What Women WantSpiderman is just too good not to enjoy.  They are surrounded by the matriarch owner in the form of Stephanie Cole and her well-meaning but not quite always firing on all jet cylinders son (John Finnemore).

The six part series continues the very highest example of comedy writing for which John Finnemore seems to excel, the cast is just right with Roger Allam equalling anything he has done on television as the smooth silver tongued old sky god Douglas. The way that the two pilots have become as close to the word friends as is possible without causing great pain to either is a natural progression and it was touching that in the final episode of the series, Yverdon-les-Bains Douglas realises in his own high minded way that he is pleased that Martin is perhaps on his way to greater things with Swiss Air.

Cabin Pressure is perhaps the best situation comedy on radio to have never to have transferred across the mediums. Intelligent, supremely funny and written by a genius, it deserves a slot on television, especially when some of the comedies on television now seem to rely on the cruel and the banal.

Ian D. Hall