About Cabin Pressure
Cabin Pressure is a sitcom about the wing and a prayer world of a tiny, one plane, charter airline; staffed by two pilots: one on his way down, and one who was never up to start with. Whether they’re flying squaddies to Hamburg, metal sheets to Mozambique, or an oil exec’s cat to Abu Dhabi, no job is too small, but many, many jobs are too difficult.
It’s written by John Finnemore, writer for The News Quiz, The Now Show, and Mitchell & Webb; and stars Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement, Starter for Ten), Roger Allam (The Thick of It, A Cock and Bull Story) and Stephanie Cole (Doc Martin, Housewife 49).
Written by John Finnemore
Produced & directed by David Tyler
A Pozzitive production for the BBC
Carolyn Knapp-Shappey (STEPHANIE COLE) is at last, at 64, free of her awful husband, pleasingly not free of his private jet, and ready to show the world what she’s made of, by running the slickest, most successful, most profitable charter air firm ever seen. And were it not for her crew, plane, and passengers, she would do. An ex-stewardess, and a woman of formidable energy, formidable competence, and formidable formidableness, she is continually frustrated by the incompetence or irresponsibility of the sort of pilots who are prepared to work for the money she’s prepared to pay.
Captain Martin Crieff
Captain Martin Crieff, for instance. Martin (BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH) has wanted to be an airline pilot since he was six, and before that he wanted to be an aeroplane. And now, in his early thirties, he finally sort of is- although as Carolyn points out, MJN Air is not exactly an airline. You cannot put one aircraft in a line. If it’s anything, it’s an airdot. But nonetheless, Martin is at last a professional pilot, and a captain to boot, which is one in the eye for all those people who told him he’d never make it: parents, teachers, prospective employers... examiners. No doubt other things like spatial awareness, natural authority, and ability to make decisions under pressure will come in time. For now, the main thing is the desperate struggle to stop passengers mistaking him for a steward, a baggage handler, or the YTS lad.
First Officer Douglas Richardson
This is not something that troubles his trusty First Officer. Douglas Richardson (ROGER ALLAM) is an effortlessly charming, authoritative, dark-brown voiced smooth old sky god. He’s twenty years older than Martin, and spent most of those as a captain for the mighty Air England, before finding himself unexpectedly on the job market 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. Having to sit in the co-pilot’s seat, fly drunken city boys to Biarritz, and then hoover the plane afterwards is not how Douglas imagined the last ten years of his career, but with a wife to support, and two different flavours of alimony to pay, he’s not in a position to be choosy. And on the bright side, there’s Martin to tease, and... well, there’s Martin to tease.
Meanwhile, passenger service is provided by Carolyn’s excitable son, Arthur Shappey. Arthur (JOHN FINNEMORE), like Martin, always wanted to a pilot, and, like Martin, was always told by everyone he’d never make it, and so, unlike Martin... he isn’t one. However, his Mum has let him be the steward, and his boundless enthusiasm for his new role is only matched by his boundless enthusiasm for pretty much everything else he ever sees or does. He’s particularly delighted to be allowed to serve Martin and Douglas- in his unshakeable opinion the two greatest aviators to take to the skies since Wilbur and Orville.
And here’s what the Press said ...
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.
An inspired new sitcom from John Finnemore…
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
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