Sunday 30 November 2014

Sunday Papers / Farewell Bear Facts - Cremona

First, let's have a look at the papers. Kevin and I discover how dogs shop for Christmas; why you MUST monogram your backgammon set; and how readers of the Financial Times spend their money. Clue: Jewels. All that, here.

Secondly: Cremona. Ah, every series had one episode that caused far more headache and trouble than any of the others, and Cremona was series one's. Maybe it was because it started out life, as described  two days ago, as part of the plot of the pilot; or maybe it was because I hadn't learnt yet how much plot a half hour sitcom episode can comfortably hold, but this one drove me mad. Which is not to say I don't like it now- it's got lots of good lines, and is an excellent establishing episode for Douglas. But it was murder to write. Though by no means the hardest. We'll come to the hardest.

None of which is a fact. Ok, here's a fact I've certainly never mentioned before: when I was researching the show, I talked to several charter airline pilots, and I asked one of them who was the nicest - and who was the most difficult - celebrity he'd flown. I shan't tell you the most difficult; but the nicest, he said, without any hesitation at all, was Norman Pace (Half of the British comedy double act Hale and Pace). In a totally different context, a friend of mine who plays poker very seriously I know had mentioned Norman Pace as the nicest celebrity poker player he'd ever met. So, I decided Mr Pace's apparent niceness should be celebrated, and made him MJN's favourite client...

Saturday 29 November 2014

Farewell Bear Facts - Boston

*Contains no spoilers for Cabin Pressure, but unexpectedly a massive spoiler for series one of the U.S. House Of Cards*

- Lots of people have spotted that the names of Mr Leeman and Dr Price are tributes to the 'Kipper and the Corpse' episode of Fawlty Towers. I can't remember whether anyone has spotted that his first name, Hamilton, as mentioned in Arthur's eulogy, is a reference to the 'Waldorf Salad' episode. The character seemed to combine elements of Mr Hamilton, the irascible American who tells Basil some home truths; and Mr Leeman, the inconvenient corpse. So I named him after both. (Having said that, if I was writing it now, I'm not sure I'd make him American. Bit obvious, maybe.)

- The choice of the book Arthur's so proud of having read - twice - is a reference to Nancy Mitford's character Uncle Matthew, based on her own father, who read White Fang and enjoyed it so much he decided never to read anything else, because it couldn't possibly be as good.

- In the (excellent) American version of The House of Cards, the dark miniseries about a ruthless senator who'll do anything for power, it takes him eleven hour long episodes before he finally kills someone. In my light-hearted radio sitcom about air travel, it takes Arthur until half way through episode two. Your move, Spacey.

Friday 28 November 2014

Farewell Bear Facts - Abu Dhabi


I doubt this will be news to anyone who reads this blog, but the BBC have now officially announced that Zurich, the finale of Cabin Pressure, will be in two parts, and will be broadcast on Radio 4 at 6.30pm on December the 23rd and Christmas Eve. (That link above contains some mild spoilers, such as the names of guest stars, which I won't put here, so as to keep this blog safe for even the most puritanical of spoiler-phobes.)

Also, somebody at this site has noticed that if you start today, and listen to one episode a day, you will reach Yverdon on the 22nd December. And they've also created this rather wonderful advent calendar to go with it:

…In the spirit of which, I'm going to try to put up a small fact or deleted line from each episode up on here every day. Starting with:


As the first episode, this is based on the never aired pilot script I wrote to try to sell the show. In the pilot, which was far, far too long and over-complicated, the action of Abu Dhabi took place while they're flying Hester Macauley (the actress from Cremona) to Rome, and the cat was a feral street-cat she falls in love with and decides to smuggle home with her.