Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Farewell Bear Facts - Limerick



I think this one is my favourite of the three bottle episodes, partly because it's the purest of them. We only hear the four main characters's voices - there's not even an ATC line;  it all takes place not just on the plane, but in the flightdeck; and it's also, though people don't seem to notice this, all one long scene, taking place in real time. The idea was that this episode would be exactly what you would hear if you listened to twenty eight minutes of the flight deck voice recorder. It's also a rare episode where everybody's Want is the same - to stave off boredom - and so there's little or no conflict, bar some very mild teasing about Martin's watch. Normally, I'd say an episode can't work without conflict- both the other bottle episodes have plenty -  but I think here, partly because of the secret-telling and partly because there are so many games and other threads going on simultaneously, it somehow works. The effect of which is that this episode seems to me to be the heart of the show - they're not battling a crazy passenger or other antagonist, or even each other; they're just getting on with their job, somewhere over Russia, passing the time, teasing each other, playing games, telling secrets, and very very slowly heating up a pie.

Speaking of which, here's a deleted scene:


CAROLYN:     Admiral's Pie.

ARTHUR:     Ok. Is that the same as the Fisherman's Pie?

CAROLYN:     No, it's not. The Admiral and the Fisherman favour entirely different pies.

ARTHUR:   Right. They've both got fish in though, right?

CAROLYN:   Yes.

ARTHUR:   Thought so. Because I was thinking, it's funny, when you think about it, that the Admiral's pie has got fish in it. I can see why the Fisherman's pie has. But you'd think the Admiral would be sick of fish. I mean, he must have had to eat loads of fish when he was just a sailor. And now he's an Admiral he can have whatever he likes. I'd have thought he'd want something he couldn't have at sea. Like lamb pie. With turnip.

CAROLYN:   Arthur. Dear heart. Could we have a little less philosophising about the pie, and a little more cooking of the pie?


Also, of course, this episode has Arthur learning the phonetic alphabet, which might have been the single most fun thing for me as an actor in the whole show. Especially Boo! / Bye-bye! / Boncore!


40 comments:

Annso said...

I LOVE Limerick. It's easily my favourite episode of all. I indeed never noticed that it was one long scene but I do like that a lot. And I bet you had tons of fun recording it! Particularly liked Douglas' lines (as always) when he says 'In Hong Kong.' And whenever I fly I secretly hope the steward/ess does the Limerick cabin address, sadly they never do.

Jen said...

I love Arthur attempting to learn the phonetic alphabet, especially one half of a famous pair of lovers? June!

George Johnson said...

I've always wondered with this episode whether it was intentional to have Douglas mistakingly say that Kallista comes from the Latin for beautiful (it actually come from the Greek) just to demonstrate his fallibility. I love Limerick though, along with Fitton and Xingxou it's in my top three!

Anonymous said...

The "day in the life" episode - my personal favourite, usually voted second-best-ever CP episode in polls, the one where Douglas finally admits that he's not perfect, and among other things a shining example of Carolyn's excellent parenting skills (she could just have taken over from Arthur, rather than make the effort to keep reminding and helping him).
Incidentally, my favourite episode of "dinnerladies" is also the one-long-scene one ("Catering").
On the subject of the cabin voice recorder: in Douz and St Petersburg, they imply that recordings on the black box will last forever... even though only the last half-hour (I think?) is retained. Since they're speaking to people with extensive aviation knowledge (Yves Juteau and Gordon Shappey), I always wondered why they tried to call their bluff...

Elijah Granet said...

I love Limerick! One question: did you intentionally repeat the dialogue from Fitton about "neither Caroline nor Arthur floating my boat"?

Anonymous said...

For Elijah Granet:

Q) There's one line of Martin's that occurs in two different episodes. Was that deliberate?

A) No, it wasn't. For some reason, I thought that line had been cut from the first episode it was in the edit, and reused it; only to eventually realise it hadn't been. So now it's in both, and it really annoys me. Grr.

From here:
http://johnfinnemore.blogspot.nl/2012/07/cabin-pressure-faq.html

Anonymous said...

I'm so hungry for some pie now.

thekfile said...

The opening piece about being BOOOORED is my absolute favourite. I always quote it when I'm bored ;)

Emma M said...

Ah, I always wondered about the repeated line, thank you Anonymous :)

Limerick is definitely one of my favourite episodes, and I had also never twigged that it was in real time. Works really well though. This was the episode that won over my other half as well - he'd always shied away from it, having insisted that he wasn't a fan of this sort of show, but after hearing Limerick he now loves it (and steals all my CP discs for his car, which is annoying...)

Anonymous said...

Limerick's my favorite! It's the first one I play for people when I want to get them hooked on CP. It's charming, hilarious,and self-contained, and each character shines beautifully. And it's so full of quotable quotes!

I did notice that everything happens in real-time, and it's always impressed me. Quite a feat to write something dramatically satisfying, with great ebb & flow & rhythm, all timed to the minute.

Christen said...

I think Arthur learning the phonetic alphabet is one of the funniest things in the entirely brilliant episode! I think my favourite (Tied with multiple others though)

Helen said...

The Boncore bit is my favourite, Arthur's so excited!

Helen said...

The Boncore bit is my favourite, Arthur's so excited!

Anonymous said...

I've listened to this episode at least a dozen times (it's one of my favorite episodes), and my favorite line is and forever will be Arthur's response to Martin's hint for the word for F:

Martin: It's a type of dance.

Arthur: TANGO!

Douglas and Martin's cabin address at the beginning is a close second.

Kel

The Pink Lady said...

Boncore, Mr Finnemore. This is one of the cleverest episodes in the whole run: a single scene, perfectly executed. Beautifully scripted, inventive, delightful and sooo funny. The inclusion of my childhood literary heroine, Milly-Molly-Mandy, makes it even more special.

Philippa Sidle said...

I'm another who never noticed that this beautiful beautiful episode is in real time. Now I'm even more in awe.

I want to go and listen to it again now. But sadly, I inadvertently 'un-synched' the whole of Cabin Pressure from my iPhone a couple of weeks ago - and I can't restore the downloads as I bought them from Audiogo and they've gone bankrupt!

Anonymous said...

As far as I'm concerned, Limerick ties for the Bestest CP Episode with Ottery St. Mary :-) The real-time thing was always clear to me. Great work! And once again I really needed one of these two top episodes before going to bed after the workday, so thanks for that too!

Alex G said...

It is a corker of an episode. And you must have been so proud of the Vyshny Volochyok limerick.

Oh, and the thing I mentioned on another thread that happens in "Roxanne" and also in this episode, is that a count to 20 gets miscounted and ends up as several more.

Anonymous said...

A fish free oboe check is one of my favourite ever lines. It is pure genius!

Erica Levy said...

Limerick is a personal favourite of mine too, I could listen to it everyday and it would still make me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Finnemore, when you get to the St. Petersburg post, could you possibly include the two deleted dialogues you mentioned in your post of 5 August 2011?

Rach Cherryade said...

I am enjoying these 'farewell bear facts' enormously and am particularly excited to hear what you have to say about my personal favourite episode, 'Molokai', tomorrow. I have been a lifelong fan of Radio 4 and radio comedy in particular, I don't remember a time when Radio 4 wasn't permanently on in our house and in that time I have heard and loved many radio comedy series so I of course tuned in for the first episode of CP not knowing what to expect but always willing to give a new comedy a try. From the very beginning of 'Abu Dhabi' I was awestruck by the perfection of the writing, every single line was just sublime and every performance exquisite. Every subsequent week when I tuned in I couldn't believe that the amazing quality of the scripts could possibly remain so high but it did. I feared that every season might not live up to the one before and each time you proved me completely, gloriously wrong. With CP about to complete its final flight I can honestly say that it has been the greatest comedy (I don't just say radio comedy because, in my opinion, radio is always superior to tv so it goes without saying that the best comedy would be a radio one!) that I have ever heard, consistently 'brilliant' from start to finish and a shining example of how comic writing should be approached, not a flat joke or redundant line in any episode that I can think of, a true tour de force of elegant craftsmanship!

I know you are probably very busy but I wondered if you might be able to answer a question in tomorrow's post about the mechanics of the 'Secret Santa' plot as I assume there must have been some behind the scenes name-swapping going on for Arthur to end up with Martin's name and Douglas to acquire Carolyn's name. I have listened to this episode numerous times and still don't think this is entirely cleared up 'on air', it's not vital to my enjoyment of this flawless show, I'd just like to know for my own peace of mind! I've been greatly enjoying listening to the episodes again in preparation for Zurich and was surprised to hear that Kuala Lumpur is generally held in relatively low esteem since it and 'Ipswich' are my favourite episodes in the first two series (apart from 'Molokai' obviously!) As someone who was not aware of Benedict Cumberbatch's work prior to Cabin Pressure and has no interest in his career outside of radio work, perhaps I'm not as sensitive to Douglas' teasing of Martin as fans who were originally brought to Cabin Pressure through Cumberbatch's involvement, it's good to be able to separate an actor from their roles I suppose! As a huge fan of Jeffrey Whitehead I'm not sure how I made it through five series of 'Bleak Expectations' in which his character died in every single episode, not to mention all the other characters dying at least once without needing counselling, it's a good I was too busy laughing I suppose! I'm not a fan of excessively cruel humour, but CP is so gentle and considerate of all its characters with all their pecadillos and failings, that I don't see how it could be considered cruel in any way, I would have thought Douglas' secret insecurities had been revealed enough to explain why he sometimes picks on Martin and Arthur remains relentlessly cheerful despite being teased by everyone, quite different to how he reacts to his father and they all stick up for another when the chips are really down! So I think we can safely say that no air crew were gratuitously hurt in the making of 'Cabin Pressure'!

Anonymous said...

There once was a writer named John
who was everyone's favorite, odds-on.
Cabin Pressure is dear
Easy to love Souvenir
And Sunday Papers I've just come upon!

Anonymous said...

"the Admiral's not a picky eater"...that line still makes me laugh out loud.

Anonymous said...

I was just in Hong Kong last month with my family, and we came away with faux Cartier and Omega watches. Sadly, neither plays the Simpsons theme.

Fantastic episode.

baileybomps said...

This is my absolute favourite episode of any series, although Wokingham is a pretty close second. The highlight for me is Arthur shouting 'Tango' for the phonetic 'F'. The build up & eventual punchline never, ever get old. I still have the whole set of Cabin Pressure seasons playing on repeat in my car. Makes every journey go quicker.

Weez said...

I listened to most of Cabin Pressure at my desk at work. This is the episode where I was laughing so hard I had to excuse myself and leave the building to calm down. Arthur learning the phonetic alphabet is possibly the greatest thing my licence fee has ever contributed to.

Anonymous said...

Everything already said: also LOVE Limerick because of ... everything, mainly because of phonetic alphabet: TANGO!, Boo-Boncore! Milly-Molly-Mandy
Perfect - Thank you!
Cornelia

Anonymous said...

Rach Cherryade, even though many of us are big fans of Benedict Cumberbatch, I at least do not feel sorry for Martin for Cumberbatch's sake (goodness knows he can take care of himself) but for the character's. Similarly, I may have come to listen to Cabin Pressure thanks to the presence of a certain actor in it, but that's not why I'm such a fan of the show these days. Cabin Pressure is a fandom all of its own!

Alex G said...

Ah, but will Rach Cherryade be going back on Mastermind and taking Cabin Pressure as a specialist subject? Someone should. Go on, make us proud!

Anonymous said...

Boo and Boncore crack me up every time.

Anonymous said...

Hello there. Just wanted to check in and say that I am following the advent.

So last week i was hnging out with some friends and I happen to mention Cabin Pressure and my friend immediately quotes the "polo neck" limerick and I respond by quoting the "captain has turned on the sign" limerick. Just wanted to say anyway that I wish I hadn't discovered this so late in August but have already listened to each episode thrice. Can't wait for Zurich, but will be sad to see it end.
Also I recently listened to all four of your Souvenir series, really want to support all your comedic (and serious) work. Keep writing and acting please!

Fuesch said...

The way "sperm" is never said, always makes me think there's something up with it. Is it considered a naughty word or something?

Rach Cherryade said...

Alex G, CP was actually going to be my first round subject last time but the production team decided it wasn't a wide enough topic since only three series had been broadcast by then. Now that we'll have plenty more episodes to answer questions on I'm hoping they might actually let me do it next time! I can't think of any specialist subject I'd prefer!

Alex G said...

The one thing that bugs me about this episode is that I don't think most of those evil-sounding names actually do sound evil.

Corline Hazenoot said...

I have been going through the episodes again and this one is utter genious. How long did it take you to write those limericks?! And what a delight that there is such a place for comedy purposes.
O dear, CP always makes me happy and fuzzy and warm like Sinterklaas and Christmas and the whole of December, really. So this is a bit of an overkill. I feel like Arthur must everyday.

Apologetically Fussy said...

I know this is very late comment, but... well, when Douglas tells Carolyn why Callista Flockheart isn't an acceptable evil name, he says that "Callista is from the Latin for beautiful." And, well... it's not. It's actually from Greek. Minor difference, maybe, but it's been bugging me for years. Anyway, to conclude in a Mrtin-esuq and socially awkward way, "callos" is Ancient Greek for beautiful, "pulchra" is Latin. Ok bye!

Moony said...

Uskerty is my top favourite but Limerick has to be the single one I have hands down listened to the most times over (particularly on repeat and repeat and repeat).

I love that neat tidbit that it is meant to play out as one long scene, as if you were listening to the cabin voice recorder! Going to give it a new spin the next time I listen to this episode.

Bai Langwang said...

I love Limerick. My favorite, together with Ipswich and Rotterdam. And Vaduz. And Xinzhou. And Abu Dhabi. And Paris. And Helsinki, and Gdańsk as well. And I actually really like Cremona too :)

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