Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Newcastle



Just a quick-ish and late one on Newcastle (available here ), I'm afraid, because real life is still in the way a bit. 

Every series, it seems, one episode causes me more trouble and hair-tearing than any two and a half of the others combined. In series one it was Cremona - my God that plot took some wrestling to get down to twenty-eight minutes. In series two it was Kuala Lumpur, which if I'm honest I still don't think I ever got quite right. This series it was Newcastle. And it's always the same problem: way, way too much plot, resulting in a nine thousand word monster of a draft which I somehow have to boil down to about 5,600.  I didn't quite manage it with Newcastle, either, so there's a lot on the cutting room floor this week. What annoys me about it is that I realised when it was too late that actually, the problem was that there's the material for two perfectly good episodes in it - one based around flying Herc and Linda; and one based around Martin getting on the wrong side of an engineer. Apart from anything else, it's a shame to cram three such brilliant guest stars all into one episode, rather than giving them room to breathe. Oh well. I'll know better next time. (I won't.) This is all sounding very negative, isn't it - I still really like the episode. 

And then, of course, the morning before the recording, we got the call from Benedict's agent saying she was terribly sorry, but he simply had no voice left at all (you can hear he's suffering a bit in some of the other episodes). So hooray for the tremendous Tom Goodman-Hill, who I think does a terrific job of being a Martin that's not just a pale copy of Benedict's, but on the other hand doesn't feel like a jarring leap away from his. And hooray for Benedict, Roger and Stephanie for very decently agreeing to re-record Martin's scenes in the next episode, Ottery St. Mary, so that Ben-Martin could appear in five out of the six episodes. Isn't everyone great? Arthur's right: other people are brilliant. 

Speaking of Arthur, here's some more of his Monopoly game:

CAROLYN: He also once did a deal whereby he gave Martin Mayfair, so long as he was also allowed to give him the Electric Company.
ARTHUR: Well, I kept having to times things by four! That’s not fun, that’s maths! Anyway, I’m still playing!
CAROLYN: Of course you are. Indeed it’s your go.
FX: DICE THROWN
ARTHUR: Twenty-forth go in jail. Are you sure I can’t just pay fifty pounds to get out, Herc?
HERC: You wanted to be the little dog.
ARTHUR: I’m always the little dog.
HERC: And everyone knows the little dog can’t pay to get out of prison. You just have to wait till you get a Get Out Of Jail Free card.
ARTHUR: But how can I get one when I’m in jail?
HERC: Well, that’s exactly why you should never be the little dog.




43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, I see you've picked St Petersburg for "S"! Was hoping you would pick Singapore! Maybe next time? :) All the best from a listener in (where else?) Singapore.

Fruitbat said...

I thought Tom Goodman-Hill did a great job standing-in as Martin. True to the character without sounding like a Benedict Cumberbatch impersonation. Tough job, admirably done.

Also Kuala Lumpur is one of my favourite episodes. Just because Arthur mentions Mrs Badcrumble and throwaway Eddie Izzard references always make me smile.

Rupert Goodwins said...

Just caught it. Think you're right about there being two episodes there, but who knows - perhaps the engineer will be back one day. Lots of odd things happen when an aircraft goes tech...

But the tour de force was Martin spinning his wheels with Linda. Tom Goodman-Hill did the script proud.

I do wonder how a show with the same premise as Cabin Pressure would have come out if made at the time of, say, Navy Lark. Douglas as an ex-RAF type, Martin a second son trying to measure up to a famous father, Arthur as, well, Leslie Phillips... hm, not much for a Carolyn in early 1960s BBC radio comedies. But it would be fun to hear an episode like that.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing Tom sounded at the recording very much like Ben but hearing the recording he resembles much more yourself. He is a very fine "Martin" beautifully capturing Bens performance. Please find in each series a part for Mark Williams who is just adorable as Eddie.

Kaitebon said...

I think the games were my favorite part of that episode. And my favorite line was Arthur's response to "Hell is other people."

I agree with Douglas, I'd like to see Arthur and Satre go head to head. I hope Arthur would win!

Ross Bennett said...

I guess I'm just slow. I now have this feeling that everyone on the planet knew where Martin's and Douglas's names came from. I had to have Herc in there—as well as Gertie's make—before it stung me like a brick wall.

Or am I seeing patterns where none exist?

Now...Arthur and Caroline next, and that red lighthouse is still eluding me.

Love the cork board! Now I'm going to feel smug every time I open Scrivener...for about one second and it opens up to that terrible blank page.

The cowcatcher handled the substitution magnificently! It was just the right flavor of wink to the audience.

Ross Bennett said...

Been Googling about airplanes and aviators.

1) Discovered that Caroline is Carolyn.

2) Stumbled into a Cabin Pressure erotic fan-fiction archive.

The shivers simply WILL. NOT. STOP.

rewboss said...

Well, at the time, it didn't feel like too much plot to me; but now you mention it, it would have been nice to hear more from Linda. The Martin/engineer standoff I thought was just right as it was.

How very like Martin to think that Arthur might be capable of telling his mother a barefaced lie. I would say "poor old Arthur", but he's so blissfully cheerful -- in some ways, I think the world could do with more Arthurs.

Anonymous said...

Adored the absolutely-not-different-at-all-Martin intro. Very neat.

And Cremona remains one of my favourite episodes. Listening on my mp3 player, Arthur and Excalibur have made me laugh out loud in the street on more than one occasion - and not care that people thought me crazy.

Matthew said...

In this episode, Douglas says that Gertie is acting as a "grim memento mori" for the slick and modern jet sitting in front of it.

Makes me wonder what a "cherry and upbeat" memento mori is!?!?

Fruitbat said...

@Ross Bennett-

Oh dear, I see you are clearly unfamiliar with the infamous "Rule 34"

If it exists, someone has made porn about it on the internet.

Though from this I can also extrapolate you are equally unfamiliar with the First Rule of Fandom-

Never tell the original creators what the fans are doing. It just freaks everybody out.

Anonymous said...

John, do you you need to be told to be obliquely anti- dog-fluffy or otherwise, or do you just sniff out where the money is?
And as for trying to subvert rationality among a characteristic audience who think(sic)its got something to do with food, you have nothing like the intellect to carry it off without tumbling into the pit to join them.
However, if it were literal, and everybody else might by some chance not give a damn, you can be sure that the little dog at the end of your bloodied jackboot would bark out for your rescue.

Mandy said...

A fantastic ep - one of your best, even with no Benedict...

Loved the ill Martin digs at the beginning (he wouldn't dare!) and I do hope we see more of Linda and Herc in future series.

Anthony Head was wonderful, and played the charmer to perfection. Yay for monopoly, Herc and Carolyn and once again, poor Martin...

I look forward to every Saturday morning when I can hop onto iPlayer and know with absolute certainty I'll be treated to quality comedic writing. So for that, many thanks!

Daedalus said...

Dare I suggest that Tom Goodman-Hill is better at doing Martin than Benedict? Tom has all that comedy experience with Milton Jones and his delivery and timing are just that much sharper. Besides he's a Geordie and I'm also from the NE, so howay the lads! Well done Tom (and roll on "Hut 33" series IV!)

Caroline said...

Ah, poor Benedict :( I'm so glad he appeared in most of the episodes, despite having problems with his voice. But Tom Goodman-Hill did a wonderful job and I completely agree with one of the comments here: "true to the character without sounding like a BC impersonation".

And Anthony Head! What a treat!

Ross Bennett said...

@Fruitbat--

Fair points both.

I usually can remember Rule 34, and don't generally get distressed over it. And while I can't say it's how I spend much of my time, I'm usually non-nonplussed at what it generates.

None of it would have fazed me if not for who it was.

[Shudder.]

Kaitebon said...
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Hannah said...

Kudos to Tom Goodman-Hill. It was a good performance. I'll also second the Anon in asking to hear Eddie again.

I'm absolutely with Carlyn when it comes to opera, although if you'd like to send Anthony Head in my direction to convince me otherwise I'll not say no. :P Glad to see he's on the cast list for next week too. He does have an excellent voice for a rather too sauve airline Captain. Was he someone that was considered when you were originally casting Douglas?

Does anyone have a picture of the type of plane Gertie is? Or is she one of those slightly mythical beasts like platform 9 3/4?

@Rupert re Navy Lark. Try the end of Douz.

Did you see the reviewette in the Telegraph? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/8646083/A-strike-and-a-scandal-keep-Radio-4-on-its-toes.html

Fruitbat said...

@Ross Bennett-

I reserve the right to point and laugh at your mental trauma in a knowing yet slightly sympathetic way

Hannah said...

OK, the link is broken and I can not spell today....

Carrie said...
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Carrie said...

Thought Tom Goodman-Hill was, to quote Arthur, brilliant. Really enjoyed the whole episode. The bits where Martin is talking to Linda and tells her how much he loves flying but not as much as he loves her were amazing.

Writers (or any creative for that matter) are always their own worst critic, so I love reading you writing out what you thought worked and didn't. Interesting look into your thought processes! Can't wait for the last 3 eps.

(Yes I deleted my original post because I noted my wretched English. I wish I could blame it on sleep deprivation or something but it's 1:06 here in CO...annnnd done rambling.)

Philippa Sidle said...

Opera is... brilliant! It might be something you either get or you don't - but I do think there are people who simply haven't seen it done properly and for real, and are prejudiced against it on the basis of an idea of what they think it is, rather than what it can be. Carolyn's attitude seemed rather to be along those lines, I thought. Obviously I'm with Captain Herc on this one!

Anyway, another fantastic episode - thank you!

Anonymous said...

Carolyn...you saucy minx!

Mind you, anything voiced by Anthony Head is bound to be attractive.)

John Finnemore said...

Thank you all, glad you liked it!

Fruitbat - Yes, oddly K-L is one of Arthur's better episodes, what with the mystery passengers and the lying lesson. It's the over-complicated secret pub story I don't think I quite hacked. Never mind.

Anon - Yeah, Mark Williams was amazing, wasn't he? Wish I'd said Eddie worked in Fitton, not Birmingham...

Ross - Gertie's make is not coincidental, certainly.

Matthew - Damn, you're right. But the sentence needed a syllable there for the rhythm.

Ross / Fruitbat - Yes, I have been made aware that there are stories by other writers in which the crew apparently get a bit... fruity. I don't mind particularly, but I've decided it's probably best for the peace of mind of all concerned if I never read them!

Anon II - that's some impressively incomprehensible gibberish you've produced there. I've read it three times now, and genuinely have no idea what it means, so I'm going to take it as a compliment. Thank you.

Kaitebon said...

I thought hte Kuala Lumpur pub story was really clever in the way it made Martin sympathetic (because he doesn't have any friends!) but also unsympathetic (because he's sort of prissy) at the same time... I think you maintain the balance between pathos and humor really well throughout the series, and I thought that episode was a nice example of it.

(also, giggling madly at your response to the bizarre anonymous comment...)

Miss Pear said...

Another corking ep. Was really impressed with the way Tom Goodman-Hill handled the abrupt cast change at the recording, and it comes over well in the edit. Brilliant having Anthony Head in the show too, who was giggling away as he always does. (By the way, John - Mark Evans called - he wants his cast back ;))

I think the delightfully cryptic anonycommenter has taken a version of the Internet Bullshit Generator and rewritten to defamatory ends. No dogs were harmed in the making of Cabin Pressure, although a guide puppy in training did sleep through one of the recordings.

(John, I took your advice from Saturday, and by Sunday night had written a piece that took me half an hour from conception to finalising. Mildly encouraging!)

Tony said...

Another fantastic episode. I loved the " I think he looks exactly the same" comment by Douglas about Martin at the start and I still keep tittering to myself about Arthur confusing Jean Paul Satre with Jean Claude Van Damme. Brilliant series to date. Looking forward to the remainder

Sabina said...

Thank you John for another wonderfully scripted episode!

The ending was brilliant!! Arthur is such a delightful character!

Excited to see Anthony Head will be in the next one too =D

A.W. said...

Poor Martin, falling right into the whole "when I was a girl" trap. Tom Goodman-Hill did a fantastic job filling in - I loved how he read Martin's roundabout speeches with Linda.

I'm not sure how big Buffy the Vampire Slayer was in the UK, but I did have some fun envisioning Giles in a pilot's uniform (yes, Anthony Head is a wonderful actor who has been in numerous shows, but to me he will always be Giles from Buffy. Giles was the best thing about that show).

Also, I do wonder about Arthur at times - is he really as dumb as he sounds or is it all just an elaborate ruse designed to lure everyone into a false sense of security until the opportune moment?(After writing that I'm pretty sure it's the former. Interesting though about Arthur getting a job offer from Hurc and his reaction).

Also: whatever you do, no matter how curious you might be, do not read the fanfiction. Save yourself. The goggles, they do nothing...

Miss Pear said...

A.W. - Buffy is fairly well-known over here, but for many years, Anthony Head was best known here for being "smug git on the coffee ads". He is entirely un-smug, though.

Rebecca said...

After all the gushing you've received for this episode, I have to point out one flaw: It made me realise how much I love the opening scenes before the credits. ;-)

Arthur getting the job offer at the end was genius on so many levels. Of course he would decline.

PS: I really enjoy the glimpse behind the scenes in these posts.

PPS: Much ♥ for your words re fanfic.

kodama said...

Sorry for the very late comment, but I also want to congratulate you on that episode. Tom Goodman-Hill played Martin and he didn't play Martin-played-by-Benedict-Cumberbatch, so it was really good! Well done!
I didn't like Herc that much until Otters St Mary.
I'd love to hear more from Linda, ane I find stuttering Martin absolutely adorable.
The plot was fine even and it wastn't too much, even for me - living in Poland and only trying really hard to have a connection with English language in every possible way.
I wanted to thank you for giving an insight of you workplace and writing, it's really inspiring.
Oh, and I loved your comment on fanfiction ;)

debmeister said...

I absolutely loved benedicts cod French, Rogers gunning down of the bears and johns yellow car game what can I say comic genius so few things make me laugh out loud. Keep it up...

debmeister said...

Sorry totally new at this comment blog thingummy, I realize I was making general positive feedback on the show rather than on a particular episode. I love them all, totally fab comedy pity there's only 6 episodes per series but as they say you can have too much of a good thing. Come to think of it why do people say that? I guess we are all naturally pessimistic in nature...

James said...

Late to the party here but just wanted to say how much I've been enjoying this series since I got back to the UK and listened to it on catchup... I'll echo comments about Tom Goodman-Hill doing a brilliant Martin, in fact I didn't realise that it wasn't Benedict but rather thought the reason for Martin acting and sounding a bit more more towards the Arthur end of the spectrum than usual was that he was so dumstruck by Lynda.

LOVED the Brummie engineer cameo and all but applauded when I recognised Mark Williams' voice. This has been one of my favourite Cabin Pressures ever (sorry Benedict!).

Buy Viagra said...

I didn't hear any review yet, well just yours but I'm gonna try tonight, thanks for share the information.

K. said...

Yet another question from the wide-eyed newbie: I notice you use Scrivener for your index cards. Do you use it all the way through to the final script, or do you switch to some other software at some point? I've read that Scrivener has BBC's scene style but not cue style. Is this a problem?

Jcm Stephens said...

I absolutely loved benedicts cod French, Rogers gunning down of the bears and johns yellow car game what can I say comic genius so few things make me laugh out loud. Keep it up...

Anonymous said...

Kuala Lumpur is my favourite episode. You didn't just get it right- you got it perfect.

Anonymous said...

late for work AGAIN. Have been listening to cabin pressure for the hundreth time. Pity cabin pressure 4 is the last ever series.

DużeKa said...

Sorry, probably I am late to the party, but I just realised something about GERTI. In the „Newcastle” episode it is said that the plane is Lockheed McDonnell 312. Obviously there is no such plane, because there is no such a manufacturer. But if you look closer at the names of both companies combined here... Lockheed MARTIN and McDonnell DOUGLAS... Well done, Mr. Finnemore, well done... ;-)

DużeKa said...
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