Monday, 7 April 2014

Perhaps it was a romantic gesture that went awry...

Parish notices:

Yesterday, John and Kevin's Sunday Papers went to the races. We discuss, among other things, just how easy it is to inadvertently buy a horse.

Today, at 6:30 on Radio 4 and iPlayer thereafter, I will be lying to Jack Dee, Alex Horne and Lucy Beaumont about pubs, on The Unbelievable Truth.

Sadly, the following headline from the Mirror did not appear on the first Sunday of the month, and so Kevin and I couldn't cover it. But then again, I'm sort of glad, because that would have meant reading the story, and I feel sure I'd have found the explanation disappointing.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

From the people who brought you FLOORS.

That's right, Ladies and Gentlemen! Roll up, roll up, to use STEPS here, the hot new craze in ascension that's sweeping the nation! Other houses in this street may make you clamber up muddy slopes to the door, or employ circus strongmen to lift you up to the porch... but not here! Here you can use STEPS! STEPS - eight levels of pure adrenaline!

Please keep your hands on the bannister at all times whilst using STEPS. STEPS not recommended for pregnant women or those with weak hearts. You must be as tall as this sign to use STEPS. STEPS may go down as well as up. 

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Thank you for the thank yous!

Sorry if this is a rather self-indulgent post, but I really do have to thank the extraordinary and talented fans of Cabin Pressure for some of the astonishingly creative ways they've been saying thank you since the final recording.

First, this wonderful video. Never have so many people, in so many places and in so many languages, done quite so many silly things with so many lemons, hats, yellow cars and Toblerones. I absolutely love it (and the Arthur-in-a-box it came with) - thank you all so much!

Not only that, but the organisers of it have also been fund-raising for the National Literacy Trust , an excellent cause for which they have raised an amazing £2,265, and counting! Thank you so much to everyone who donated, and for the lovely comments on that site, all of which I have read.

Next, at the recording I was given a copy of this incredible book, which is a compilation of the work of some extremely talented artists and cartoonists, and their portrayals of everything from Carolyn presenting Herc with Finn McCool III, to Martin in the back of the goose truck, to the crew's favourite meals to… well, to what the crew would look like if they were all cats. It's absolutely tremendous, though I am sickened by how much better than me at drawing you all are.

Last but not least, thank you for all the individual cards and letters that have been sent to me, or given to me at the recording. They mean an awful lot, and I will reply to all the ones with return addresses eventually - sorry if it takes a while.

Maybe everyone who writes a show thinks this, but I really do feel the people who like my show are an unusually talented, generous, thoughtful and, above all, deeply silly lot. Thank you so much! You are truly… (here it comes, I've been using similes all through this post so I can save it up for the end)… Brilliant!

UPDATE: Since I first posted this, I have also been shown this wonderful song.  Thank you!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

John and Kevin's Sunday Papers - March

Kevin and I have been looking at the papers again today. Includes some useful holiday advice for anyone who- like Kevin- has been intimidated by an elephant into booking twenty holidays at once, but is left cold by falconry. I assume that's most people.

John and Kevin's Sunday Papers

Friday, 28 February 2014

Please remain seated until the series has come to a complete stop.

 You've probably never even stopped to wonder who provides the voices for  Cabin Fever. Well, here they are in a rare moment in front of the camera: Bennet Cumberland, who plays Marvin; Alan Rogers - Duncan; Stephen Coles - Arnold; and Daisy Tyler - Gertie. Pictured here with lucky competition winner Jon Phillimore.

Well, that's it - as of last Sunday I am officially that guy who used to write Cabin Pressure. It is a very strange feeling. I will write more about it when the show is broadcast. (We still don't know when that'll be. The Christmas Eve thing is plausible, but it's only a rumour - no-one from the BBC has confirmed that to us. Personally, I hope they can make it a bit sooner, but it's their decision.)  For now, I just want to say thank you again to our marvellous audience - both those who were in the Drill Hall last Sunday (No spoilers! I'm counting on you!) and those who would have liked to have been, but weren't. You guys are great. Hope you enjoy Zurich!

(Oh, yes: it IS called Zurich. For ages and ages it was going to be called Zanzibar, just to surprise people, and I'm still a bit sorry that it's not. But the bit which justified calling it that was one of the many victims of the cuts required to get my original 14,500 word draft down to 9,000 ish words, so Zurich it is...)

Monday, 3 February 2014

Bing Bong

'Well, it's about time!'

Hello! I'm very happy to announce that we now have a recording date for the final episode of Cabin Pressure. It will be at 7pm on Sunday the 23rd February, at the RADA Studios in London.

How can I get tickets?

Tickets are free, and you will be able to enter the draw for them here when the BBC make them available - I don't know exactly when they'll do that. When they do, applications will be open for a couple of days, and then the draw for tickets will be made from all applications received; so although you do need to hit that two day or so window, you don't have to get in early within it.

Please note that although the BBC have very kindly agreed to over-book as little as they dare, they will still be over-booking a bit, so getting a ticket does not guarantee you a seat. So if you get a ticket, and you're thinking of travelling a long way in order to attend, it's probably worth getting to the venue an hour or two before the show.

Why aren't you doing it in a bigger venue, so more people can come? 

I know, I wish we could. It's partly budget (the tickets are free, remember), but it's mostly because it would change the way the audience sounds on the radio.

Will you be doing one of those secret try-outs in a pub you did for the last series?


When will the show be broadcast?

I don't know - it hasn't been scheduled yet. I'll tell you, here, as soon as I know.

What happens in the end?

Heaven knows. I'm still writing it.

Are you excited?

Oh Good Lord yes.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Text message conversation I imagined on recent trip to my local mini supermarket.

- Just going to shops, can I get you anything?
- Thanks! Toothpaste; Earl Grey tea; and the I-Spy book of Oxford.
- …Ok. But I'm only going to the little Sainsbury's. What if they don't have it?
- Then normal tea's fine.
- No, I meant… what if they don't have the I-Spy book of Oxford?
- Huh? Of course they'll have it! This is the middle of London! What self-respecting mini supermarket would fail to stock the I-Spy book of Oxford?
- You're probably right. But, just in case?
- Well. If for some strange reason they HAVE run out, just get me the I-Spy book of Edinburgh.
- …Ok. Fine.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Three things.

- Radio 4 are repeating the first series of Souvenir Programme on Thursdays at 6:30, starting today. Today's includes the Three Guards sketch, and The Man Who Makes The Noise of the Tardis.

- Cabin Pressure has been nominated for best comedy and also, pleasingly if slightly confusingly, best comedy drama at the BBC Audio Drama awards. I will find out which it is - if either - on January 26th.

- It's also time for the awards, which are voted for by the public. If you should feel like voting for either CP or JFSP, I certainly won't stand in your way.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

John and Kevin's Sunday Papers

Here is a little experiment my friend Kevin and I are trying. If it goes well, we'll do another next month.

John and Kevin's Sunday Papers - January 5th 2014

Also, I will be on The Unbelievable Truth on Radio 4 tomorrow at half past six, being untrustworthy.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Nearly time to get dressed...

Merry Christmas!

Simon, Lawry and I did a silly thing for Radio 4's comedy advent calendar, which you can find here . Have a listen to the others, too- there's some great stuff on it. 

I also wrote the one which will go out on Christmas Eve morning, read by none other than Julie Walters! I know! (Warning - it will be fairly baffling if you're not a Radio 4 listener. It's pretty in-jokey.)

Anyway, hope you have a great holiday - perhaps even an unforgettable one, if someone close to you has been to this shop:

That's right. Give someone a Christmas they'll never forget… through the magic of socks. 

Saturday, 14 December 2013

KFC: Putting the 'bleak' into midwinter.

Is this the most depressing Christmas advert in the history of the world?

I can't decide whether it's worse if you imagine someone has written that label to themselves in a moment of bitter rage, hence the savagely sarcastic repetition of 'happy'; or as a genuine attempt to give themselves a bit of a lift by pretending the bag of takeaway fried chicken for one they're having for  Christmas dinner is a present. 

Either way, the really heart-breaking touch is the kiss at the end. 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Incredibly grumpy giant wombats - a spotter's guide.

So anyway, apparently there was once a type of wombat the size of a hippopotamus. Which is good news, surely. It was called the diprotodon (though it didn't know that at the time) and it lived in Australia, (though it didn't know that either), during the Pleistocene era (though it didn't… you get the idea).

Unlike more elusive Australian fauna, such as the Bunyip and the Dropbear, we have actual fossil records of the diprotodon, and so we know what it looked like - at least on the inside. As with dinosaurs, artists providing impressions of what it looked like on the outside differ about things like type and colour of coat, shape of nose, etc. But on one thing every artist who's ever drawn a diprotodon agrees. It was massively pissed off.

'Oh yeah? You got a remark to make about the nose? Then let's hear it, wise guy. Give it your best shot.'

'I swear, if that's those kids next door fooling around again, I'll...'

'Why did she leave me? Why? Is it because I'm a giant wombat? But SHE'S a giant wombat! We're ALL giant wombats!'

Well, ok. Maybe not EVERY artist...

'Guys! So glad you could make it! Come through! Coats on the left, drinks on the right...'

(NB. I do not have the rights to any of these illustrations. I'm very happy to credit or remove them on request.)

Sunday, 24 November 2013

On a roll

Once on this blog, I put up a picture of a gate-spring who really loved being a gate-spring.

I now present a steam-roller quietly looking forward to another day's steam-rolling.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Because that hack they got to do the 'Romeo + Juliet' one was terrible.

How exciting! They've released an official film tie-in book of that great Baz Lurhmann film!

Shame they couldn't get Lurhmann himself to write it, though. I hope this Fitzgerald guy can pull off his style.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Ho Ho… No, No, God No!

Ah, Christmas is coming, and good old Costa coffee are celebrating with some Little Moments of Festive Fun. How heart-warming. Little moments of festive fun, such as… the bloodily decapitated body of Father Christmas.

…Thanks, Costa. Merry Christmas to you too.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Prepare for final descent.

…Well, I say news; but the hints I've been dropping have been pretty broad. Anyway, this is it officially: I am currently writing the next - and final - episode of Cabin Pressure. It will be a forty-five minute special, and it will be recorded early in the new year. 

Infrequently Asked Questions, But Which I Imagine May Become More Frequently Asked Now.

Why are you only doing an episode, not a series? 

Because that has always been the plan - at least since about Molokai. When I was planning series three, I decided that (BBC and cast permitting), I would write two more series, and build towards a cliff-hanger, followed by a special. I knew by then how important it is when writing an episode to have the ending in mind, and I thought the same would probably be true of a series.

Why are you ending it?

Well, it has to end somewhere, and six years and twenty six episodes feels like a pretty good score.    And this way I get to build towards an ending that I feel is satisfying, rather than it simply stopping one day… or worse, getting tired and repetitive. It's also allowed me to let the characters and their relationships change and develop over the last couple of series, knowing that I'm building in a particular direction, in a way that I couldn't have done if I'd had to keep them in sitcom limbo.

Besides, you can't fight the alphabet…

But there are a lot more letters in other languages!

I know. But be honest, which is more satisfying: A to Z or A to Ø? 

No, you be honest: it's because you can't get the cast any more, isn't it?

It really isn't. It's very difficult to get them all together, certainly, but they continue to be astonishingly generous about finding ways to make it work. No, this is all my fault.  

When did you say it would be recorded? And broadcast?

On the… Ah, you nearly got me. No, I'm afraid I don't know. I had, as many of you had guessed, been working towards another Christmas broadcast, but unfortunately that hasn't worked out. So, as early as possible in the new year, I hope; and I'll let you know here as soon as I can... 

Monday, 11 November 2013

I'm Sorry I Only Connect.

Today, by coincidence, appearances I made on shows that were recorded about six months apart will be broadcast within a couple of hours of one another. At 6:30 on BBC Radio 4, I will be - and I can still hardly believe this - being given silly things to do on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. I've loved this show since I was a boy, and I'm astonished and delighted to be given the opportunity to be on it.  I only hope I didn't mess it up too badly.

And then at 8:30 on BBC4, I'm on the Children In Need special of Only Connect, a show I'm sure I would have loved as a boy if only it had been on then. As the scoring on this show is a little more rigorous than the other one (no offence to Samantha), I already know whether I messed up, and, if so, exactly how badly. 

Sorry I've neglected this blog for so long, incidentally - I plan to be around a little more now. For instance, I will have some news about Cabin Pressure on Wednesday. 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Two things

Hello! I'm on holiday, but just a note to say firstly,  I have many incredibly important opinions about sea otters to share with you in today's Observer ; and secondly that the first episode of the new series of Souvenir Programme will be on BBC Radio 4 at 6:30 this Tuesday. Hope you enjoy one, or the other, or even both.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Hello, remember me?

I bet you're really sick of looking at Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Sorry about the silence, I've had my hands a bit full of writing and recording the new series of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, which is now DONE, and will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 starting next month.

(In the meantime, you can buy the first series, and pre-order the second, on CD here:


…but this is very bad manners, to disappear for the best part of six weeks, and then just hit you with adverts; so here's something else: a sketch from the new series which I really like, but which we can't use, because a good friend sorrowfully broke the news to me after the recording that it's got a lot in common with a bit of stand-up Ricky Gervais used to do. So, here it is, for your eyes (and no-one but the studio audience's ears) only, as a sort of DVD extra…


FX                                 HORSE GALLOPS UP TO GATES.

KNIGHT                       (LAWRY) Watchman, ho! Raise the alarm! The Vikings are invading! Summon the King’s men, they must immediately ride out to battle!

WATCHMAN               (JOHN) The King’s men?

KNIGHT                       Yes!

WATCHMAN               Oohh… they’re not in.

KNIGHT                       Not in? What do you mean, not in?

WATCHMAN               They’re out.

KNIGHT                       What, all of them?

WATCHMAN               Yep, all of them.

KNIGHT                       Well, where have they gone?

WATCHMAN               They’re, um… Well, I’ll tell you what they’re doing. They’re trying to put an egg back together again.

KNIGHT                       …An egg?

WATCHMAN               Yep.

KNIGHT                       Why?

WATCHMAN               It got broke. Fell off a wall. Very nasty.

KNIGHT                       An egg?

WATCHMAN               Yep.

KNIGHT                       And the King has sent… all his men?

WATCHMAN               Yep. And all his horses.

KNIGHT                       His horses? Why?

WATCHMAN               To get ‘em there faster, I spose. I can’t imagine it’s to help fix the egg.  

KNIGHT                       It seems an awful lot of trouble to go to for an egg.

WATCHMAN               True, sir, very true. But it’s a special egg. We’re all very fond of it.

KNIGHT                       Are you.

WATCHMAN               Oh yeah. We even gave it a name.

KNIGHT                       Right. Well, in that case, send a messenger after them with all speed, while I rouse the townfolk!

WATCHMAN               Aren’t you going to ask what name we gave it?

KNIGHT                       No! I’m trying to protect the kingdom from Vikings, I don’t what to know what you call the egg!

WATCHMAN               Humpty.

KNIGHT                       Humpty. Humpty the egg.

WATCHMAN               Not finished yet. Humpty… Dumpty.

KNIGHT                       Oh, so the egg has a surname?

WATCHMAN               It’s not a surname, really, so much as a nick-name. On account of his comical shape.

KNIGHT                       What shape?

WATCHMAN               Egg-shaped, sir. Did I not mention he was an egg? I thought I had.

KNIGHT                       Right. So you’re telling me that the kingdom has been left at the mercy of the approaching Viking hordes because the king’s entire military strength, human and equine, have been dispatched to reassemble an egg-shaped egg, which has fallen off a wall?

WATCHMAN               Could be, sir. Or, it could be that I’m not really the watchman at all, so much as a Viking advance guard instructed to stall you from raising the alarm by telling you whatever old nonsense comes into my head.

KNIGHT                       Zounds! Are you?

WATCHMAN               …No, sir. Just messing about. It’s the egg one.