Cabin Pressure is a radio situation comedy series written by John Finnemore. Its first series was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2008. The show follows the exploits of the oddball 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. The show stars Stephanie Cole, Roger Allam, Benedict Cumberbatch and John Finnemore.
Critical reception to the series was positive and three series have currently been produced, the most recent broadcast in July, 2011, along with a special 2010 Christmas day episode. The theme tune of the series is the Overture to Ruslan and Lyudmila by Mikhail Glinka.
As part of her last divorce settlement, Carolyn Knapp-Shappey (Stephanie Cole) was given a mid-size jet aeroplane named "Gertie" (a fictional "Lockheed McDonnell 312", Registration G-ERTI). As a result, she founds her very own single plane charter airline, "MJN Air" ("My Jet Now"), which is crewed by an oddball mixture of characters who fly to various cities around the world, encountering a variety of odd situations.
The airline's only Captain, Martin Crieff (Benedict Cumberbatch), is younger and less experienced than the co-pilot, First Officer Douglas Richardson (Roger Allam), who has ended up at MJN after being fired from his previous post for smuggling. In later shows it is revealed that Douglas, ashamed of his second-rate job, dresses in Captain's uniform for his wife Helena's benefit, changing to First Officer's uniform before he gets to work. Douglas is, however, something of a smooth operator who knows some of the dodges available to airline officers.
Martin, in contrast, has wanted to be a pilot since he was six years old, before which he wanted to be an aeroplane, but suffers from a distinct lack of ability in that department, barely qualifying for his certification. He took the job with MJN for no salary at all, as long as he could be Captain. He appears to have no outside interests beyond flying. He is a stickler for procedures and regulations, but is more prissy than pompous. At the end of series two he tells Douglas that he survives financially by running a delivery service using the van he inherited from his father. This was his only inheritance because his father believed he would waste any money he received trying to become a pilot. The cockpit crew frequently engage in word games, such as naming Brians of Britain, or 'Simon says'.
Carolyn's son Arthur (John Finnemore) is an eager dimwit who is supposed to be the flight attendant but manages to get in everyone's way. Arthur's biggest claim to fame being the inventor (or at least discoverer) of fizzy yoghurt.
The Independent's Nicholas Lezard praised the first series highly, called "the writing and performances…exceptional" and suggested that the show "deserves an award" Gillian Reynolds of The Daily Telegraph called Cabin Pressure "one of the best written, cast, acted and directed comedies on anywhere." Cabin Pressure was nominated for a Writers' Guild of Great Britain award in 2010.
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