Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Sunday Papers

Sorry for the eerie silence round here, I've been on rather a long holiday. However, I'm back now, and have been catching up on the Sunday Papers with Kevin. We exclusively reveal what George Clooney would have been called had he been a girl...

(There was a bit we had to cut for time which I rather miss now, where one of the papers said that although Clooney has been married before, nothing could be more different from his first wedding than this one. That's right. Nothing. No two concepts in all of human comprehension could be more dissimilar than George Clooney's first wedding, and George Clooney's second wedding…)

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Three Things

John Finnemore's Library Edition

There are two of these left. The one on Thursday 7th August is now sold out (although on past experience a few tickets seem to reappear in the final week for some reason, so if you're keen it might be worth keeping an eye out here ) but there are still tickets available for the last one, on Thursday 21st, and you can get 'em here. 

John and Kevin's Sunday Papers

As of last month, Kevin and I have made a slight policy change, in the noble cause of making our lives easier. Sunday Papers will still happen monthly, but not necessarily the first Sunday of the month. It could now be any Sunday. For August's edition, for instance, we have our eye on the 17th.


Something that's not just advertising.

I was in France a couple of weeks ago, and I visited a place where the ceiling was decorated with twelve little scenes depicting a traditional activity for each month of the year. So, in November, grape pressing. In December, hunting. In January, spinning. And in February… well, in February, apparently, what the people of rural France like to do is this:



February looks like fun.

Monday, 14 July 2014

I find the vagueness of 'Vegetarian dish' a little discomforting, too.


I do wish this restaurant near me had thought a bit more carefully about where to put the first line-break on its blackboard...




Also, Kevin and I have been at the Sunday Papers again, with Kevin bravely attempting to cure me of my debilitating football blindness.


Monday, 23 June 2014

Souvenir Hunting II





Thank you to all who came to the first Library Edition on Thursday! We had a special guest appearance from His Serene Highness the King of Lichtenstein; some unforgivable things were said about Belgium; and a valiant audience bore up man-and-womanfully under the longest Since You Ask Me the world has ever seen. I think I may end up having to cut more of it than I leave in...

It went so well, we thought we'd do some more. Tickets are available at these links for the following dates:

Thursday, 17th July
Friday, 1st August
Thursday, 7th August

(Incidentally, I have a mailing list that I occasionally (as in, two or three times a year) use to tell people about stuff like this. If you'd like to be on it,  then do, by all means, click here. )

Friday, 13 June 2014

Souvenir hunting



Summer Christmas is coming, the fruit salad's getting fat… and with it come the recordings of series four of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme! There will be three recordings in July and August, and you can enter into the draw for tickets to the first one here. The others will pop up on the same site in due course.

But what if you can't wait till then? Or if you don't want to enter into a draw; you want a ticket? Or if you're only really comfortable watching sketch comedy if you know you are within easy reach of date stamps and microfiche terminals?

Ah, then what you need are the semi-secret (as in, only mentioned here) try-out nights of new material for the show that we do, normally in a pub, but this time... in the lecture theatre of Kensington Central Library! (I know! I may wear a monocle.) Come along and see me, some of the cast, and special guests performing brand new sketches for the first time, and therefore often having to work out on the spot which silly voice to do. No age restrictions. (Not on you, anyway. I still have to be 36.)

For details, and to book tickets, follow these links...

John Finnemore's Library Edition, Thursday 19th June

John Finnemore's Library Edition, Friday 4th July

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Captain Hook, Darth Vadar and Blofeld send their apologies.


My old college is not evil, ok? There's nothing remotely evil about it. Look, here's a picture of the canteen. 



Well, ok, bad example. But even if it does on occasion, quite by accident, give off an ever so slightly Slytherin-y air, let's be clear that it is in fact a blameless and upstanding academic institution, and it's definitely not plotting anything. 

No matter whom it may choose to invite to its alumni meet-ups.


(Click on it to read it)


In other news, Kevin and I have been at the Sunday Papers again.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Silver - the ultimate accolade.



Hooray! John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme won one of these at the Radio Academy awards! 



…And here's producer Ed and I looking pleased about it.



Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Mostly topical comedy (may contain traces of animal whimsy)


On Sunday, Kevin and I had another look at the papers in, er, John and Kevin's Sunday Papers ; and tried to settle the equally vexed questions of who will win the next election; and why we've been invited to a club by some beagle puppies in frog hats.


And on Friday, I was on The Now Show, talking mostly about scorpions, but also a bit about Vince Cable and the Royal Mail. You can listen to the whole show on iPlayer here for the next five or six days (and you should; it was a good one).


Lastly, if, for reasons best known to yourself, you'd like to own a drawing by me of a seventeenth century philanthropist and his cuddly rabbit, then your luck is in - the Thomas Coram card from the post below is currently being auctioned on eBay. (Incidentally, if you win it, and you'd like me to sign it specifically to you (or someone else), I'll be very happy to do so.)

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

That's a game console controller in his other hand. He was ahead of his time.

The excellent Coram Foundation for Children is the oldest children's charity in Britain, and began life 275 years ago as a Foundling's Hospital set up by Thomas Coram, a retired sea captain and merchant. Among the many things they do is to maintain a large park in the centre of London named Coram's Fields, which has one of my favourite signs in London.


If it doesn't seem remarkable... read it again more carefully. They mean it, too. 



Anyway, to mark their anniversary, they have asked various people to design and make a card for them, which they will auction on eBay next month. Go here to see all the submissions so far (including one by a certain Mr. B Cumberbatch, just in case that might possibly be of interest to any of my readers). Here's mine: 

Cap'n Tom, pictured here with his favourite bunny.


PS - the 'Be Kind Have Fun' message next to this on the site is the inside of this card, not a second card.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Good Dog!


This week, I'm on The Unbelievable Truth again, which is one of my favourite shows to do, and indeed to listen to. You can hear it here, via the iPlayer for the next six days or so.  

In the show, you give a short lecture on a subject, almost all of which must be lies, but with five 'unbelievable truths' hidden somewhere. Here is what I had to say about dogs, together with some extra nonsense which didn't make the edit. But to find out four of the five unbelievable truths hidden therein, you will have to listen to the show... 

My dog can fly.

Dogs and humans have been together since the beginning of time. The Ancient Greeks used spaniels to catch fish and tell the future. Old English sheepdogs were used in old England to herd pigeons and children. Aristocrats used miniature poodles as hand-warmers, whilst starving peasants would allow Yorkshire Terriers to swim in a cauldron of warm water for ten minutes, and then drink the result, known as 'Dog Soup'. And of course today, dogs work for us as everything from wine tasters to air traffic controllers.

The actor John Wayne claimed he had won Lassie the dog in a poker game. However, Lassie the dog claimed she had won the actor John Wayne in a poker game. It was a classic stand-off. John Wayne called Lassie the dog a dirty liar. Lassie said the hell she was a liar, one-eyed jacks were wild, and John Wayne damn well knew it. John Wayne said all dogs cheated at cards anyway, did Lassie think he’d never seen that painting?  In the resulting shootout, Lassie lost an ear, and John Wayne was killed. But not wanting to upset the children, Columbia Studios bought another cowboy that looked just like John Wayne, and never told anybody. Similarly, we’re already on our fifth Justin Bieber.

Dog, spelt backwards, is of course 'good'; a fact that has led many people to worship them as Gods. The Toltec civilisation believed their Gods watched them through the eyes of chihuahuas. The Egyptian God Atem had the head of a dog and the body of a squirrel, and was forever chasing himself around heaven. And of course St Christopher is often portrayed with the head of a dog, owing to an unfortunate confusion between 'from Canaan' and 'Canine'

David will like this - the Siberian Husky is not technically a dog at all. It is in fact... six cats in a costume. Two on the front legs, two on the back, one in the head, and one in the middle working the tongue and the tail. You might ask, how could one cat inside a husky reach both the tongue and the tail? To which I would reply... Is that really the part of this that's bothering you?

The inventor Alexander Graham Bell claimed he had taught his dog to talk. However, it was noticeable he would only claim this whilst using his new invention, the telephone. 'Oh, by the by’ he would say ‘I’ve taught the dog to talk. Shall I put him on? "Herro! I'm Ruffles! Rri can talk now! Sausages!" There. That was him. Aren't I a good inventor?'

As a boy, King William II rode out to hunt on a mastiff instead of a horse. Henry III would often wear a basket of Bichon Frises round his neck  in a confused attempt to get girls to look at him. And of course the Queen has six corgis, named Tesco, Shiny George, Little Sir Woofsalot, Bernard Bresslaw, Argax the Destroyer, and Unnamed Dog.

Only sixteen dalmations were used in the live action remake of 101 Dalmations. They were then multiplied with CGI, but only after special dog make-up artists changed the pattern of their spots. The film did, however, use two Glenn Closes, as the original got rabies during filming, and the studio just pulled the old John Wayne trick.

My dog can't fly. But he can ride a horse.

The fifth unbelievable truth I am going to tell you now, because it's my new favourite truth I have ever tried to smuggle on the show (beating the previous title-holder, which was that Prince Waldemar of Prussia once played a trick on his grandmother, Queen Victoria, by letting a crocodile loose in her study.) 

It is that in the Eastern Orthodox Church, St Christopher was often shown in icons as having the head of a dog, because of a mix-up between the Latin for 'from Canaan' and… 'Canine'. Yes, that is actually true. I know, but it is. No, it is. Trust me, it is. 

I can tell you still don't believe me. 

Fine.

St Stephen trying to dry St Christopher's paws before he comes into the house. 


St Christopher performing the miracle of the Untaken Biscuit.

'Shake, St Christopher! Good boy!' 

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?

No.

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 comedy.co.uk 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.