Cabin Pressure is one of the greatest sitcoms ever created, written and starring John Finnemore, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, Stephanie Cole and Roger Allum. I talk about it a lot. Maybe little too much. You can listen to a little of it here. Finnemore also recently wrote for and appeared in, HBO's Avenue 5 and even found a way to join the continuity of the two shows.
But today, as Britain enters extreme isolation as commanded by Boris Johnson, Finnemore has reprised his role as Arthur Shappey, air steward and all-round incompetent son of the airline's owner. And bringing us the first two episodes of Arthur's own coronavirus isolation, as well a filling us in with what all the other characters have been up to since…
Just for context, Cabin Pressure was a radio sitcom first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 200, written and created by John Finnemore, directed and produced by David Tyler and starring Finnemore, Stephanie Cole, Roger Allam and Benedict Cumberbatch. It followed the exploits of the eccentric crew of the single aeroplane owned by "MJN Air" as they are chartered to take all manner of items, people or animals across the world. Four series were been broadcast, along with a special 2010 Christmas Day episode. The show's finale, entitled "Zurich", was broadcast as a two-part special on 23rd and 24th December 2014.
The story takes place at MJN Air, the world's smallest airline, consisting of just one 16-seater plane and its crew of four: Carolyn (Stephanie Cole), the owner and stewardess; First Officer Douglas Richardson (Roger Allam), an experienced pilot formerly at Air England until he was sacked for smuggling; Captain Martin Crieff (Benedict Cumberbatch), whose love of flying and planes is let down by his lack of natural ability; and Arthur Shappey (John Finnemore), Carolyn's overexcited and idiotic (but well-meaning) son who works as a steward.
Much of the plot revolves around the relationship between Douglas and Martin. While Martin is the captain, Douglas is more experienced, and most people consider Douglas to be superior to him in almost every way. When meeting both men most guests mistakenly believe Douglas to be the captain rather than Martin. Carolyn refers to Douglas as the "good pilot" and Martin as the "safe pilot". Also, while Douglas gets paid, Martin does not because Carolyn cannot afford it. Thus Martin also has a second job with his own business, Icarus Removals, using a van he inherited from his late father, and lives a life of poverty. Douglas, meanwhile, has to do his job in order to pay two different alimonies, and tries to keep secret from his third wife Helena that he is not a captain.
Much of the time spent on the flight-deck is spent with the crew playing various games to pass the time such as "People Who Aren't Evil But Have Evil Sounding Names", "Brians of Britain", "Books That Sound More Interesting with the Final Letter Knocked Off" (e.g. Three Men in a Boa, Of Mice and Me) and "The Travelling Lemon", in which the crew try to hide a lemon in plain sight of the passengers without anyone complaining.
Cabin Fever continues the game playing aspect rather wonderfully by getting the audience involved as well…