Saturday, March 07, 2015

We Almost Lost Cabin Pressure

Cabin Pressure is one of my favorite radio sitcoms of all time.  It almost didn't make it onto BBC Radio 4.

Caroline Raphael [CR], in an "exit interview" with Roger Bolton [RB] after 17 years as Commissioning Editor of Comedy on Radio 4 and 4Extra, from the 06/03/2015 edition of Feedback. The excerpt begins about 16:35.

[RB] Finally will you carry away a sense of a programme where you've faced a great deal of opposition getting it commissioned but it really has worked and you've been able to say 'Told you so.' Can you think of one?

[CR] Cabin Pressure.

[RB] You mean people opposed that to begin with?

[CR] Mark Damazer, who was controller of Radio 4, didn't want it first time round. I had to take it back to him.

[RB] Why were you so convinced it would work?

[CR] I...Reading it, it flew off the page. You .. the characters were distinct. There's a trick you do when you're script editing or looking at stuff which is that you hide the names of the characters so you just read the lines and if they have a voice that you can carry on hearing and start ... you think "Oh no, that's that character"  and you can hear the conversation without actually seeing the name on the left side of the page, that's always a good trick. It made me laugh. It also was beautifully contained. To keep four or five characters going in a confined space -- the cabin or the small office of this aircraft -- is just sublime and that is a magical gift which very few people have.  Mark Damazer, to be absolutely fair to him, he said publicly that he made a mistake first time 'round. So what I said to the team was let's just leave it. I want you to reoffer it in six months time and I promise you I will have another go and I went back and said I honestly think we've got this one wrong.

 I'm also glad to see that the CD collection of Cabin Pressure A to Z  (with all the episodes and many special features) is available for pre-order at here in America for the release in April. Pleasingly, it is currently the Number One New Release in Radio Shows.

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