I adore Cabin Pressure with every fibre of my being. I’ve loved John Finnemore for a very long time, having listened to him in The Now Show for years, but I was a bit slow to listen to his new ‘sitcom’ as I thought it couldn’t possibly match up to his satire. I was wrong, of course, and happy to be so.
The show is a comic marvel and, for a short and (ironically, since the stories technically take place all over the world) fairly static sitcom, the characters are extremely well developed. However, it’s important to note that the darker elements of the characters’ lives, while alluded to in brief at intervals, are never talked about explicitly.
We can surmise, for example, that Gordon Shappey was an abusive git, that Douglas was an alcoholic and that Martin’s childhood was a little less than joyous, but at no point are any of the characters intended to appear ‘tragic.’ Martin’s jacket potato comment is a prime example of this- it’s hyperbole, intended to be comic, not to incite sobbing in the ranks of listeners.
The aforementioned (and infamous) ‘potato moment’ is one that is often stated as a reason why Martin’s life is plainly dreadful but I must state that I would really much rather have his lot than my own. This isn’t because my life is dreadful (though it has its moments), just that his is actually pretty damn cool. He’s a pilot, a captain, and he gets to share a confined space with
Roger Allam Douglas.
This isn’t to say that tragicomedy doesn’t play its part in the series (of course it does), just that any aspects of the pathetic are more than outweighed by the hilarious. Douglas’s revelation of Helena’s martial arts related affair most certainly had the capacity to be very tragic indeed, but any anguish Douglas may or may not have felt is swiftly brushed away, in typical ‘Sky God’ fashion, with a bet.
As for Martin, well, forgive me for not pitying a man who’s following his childhood dream. Yes, he might live in a student house and on a diet of pasta but this is not quite the same as living on the streets on a diet of thin air. If the latter was the case then there would be no need for it to be written in fanfiction and this would be a very bad thing indeed.
“I usually find writing very difficult indeed - every sentence has to be dragged out of me, and then endlessly rewritten. But this time I was out walking along the canal, trying to think of ideas for [Martin’s ‘polar bear’ speech from Qikiqtarjuaq] to write up when I got home, and instead I ended up practically dictating it into my phone, comedy French accent and all.” (x)
Intelligent AND handsome- be still my beating heart… he also looks like he ought to be in a Russian play (if I wanted to join Allam in Uncle Vanya I certainly wouldn’t complain).
Posted this in answer to an Anon asker a few days ago and then changed my theme and the format went very strange so reposting as a text post cos I have NO idea how to work HTML codes
11) My ship
Douglas / Martin or Douglas / Herc.
The former is my more traditional stance. I’ve always been quite Greek in these matters and like the dynamic between an older, more experienced man and a younger, less cynical one (though, in truth, the age gap between them is hardly vast).
I think they’d be good for each other, they’re both vulnerable in their own ways and they understand each other; since they already act like a married couple it makes sense for them to progress into actually being one.
As for the latter, there’s a certain chemistry between the two of them- the kind of scratchy antagonism / fondness that to me just screams UST. Partly this pairing is just wishful thinking on my part: ALL THE OPERATIC VOICE PORN *falls over*. I really want to know more about their shared past.
Strangely, the ship I find myself writing is one that I don’t personally ship at all: Martin / Henry (blame my flatmate). I tend to avoid reading that pairing (and M / M) because I find the characters too similar and the possibilities too fluffy but these things also make it quite easy to write crack about them.
24) My favourite actor in the series
Oh, did you want me to expand upon this?
I started listening to Cabin Pressure because I knew about John Finnemore from The Now Show and Benedict Cumberbatch from not having lived in a cave. To begin with, Roger Allam was the ‘dryly amusing character with the nice voice;’ I knew little more than that and, if I’m honest, I was fine with that state of affairs.
Then I heard him sing. I’d thought, after Ottery St Mary and Newcastle, that Roger Allam had a good singing voice; now I rather resent that the bounds of playing a character ever restricted his singing to being ‘good’. When I heard him properly, I was hooked and there’s been no looking back.
So, there’s his voice. But even when the original London recordings of Les Miserables and City of Angels had been listened to on repeat several hundred times (or so it must feel to my long-suffering flatmate) there was still much more to explore. Allam himself has noted that his speciality is for playing ‘fucked-up men,’ or, as a reporter put it: ‘the honourable man alone in a corrupt and confusing society who will not be turned from his ideal by the threat of death or ridicule.’
And so I fell in love with his screen characters, among them Peter Mannion (the most sympathetic character in The Thick of It- a fact made all the more exceptional by the fact he’s a Tory), Fred Thursday (whose attitudes towards morality appear both forward thinking for the decade Endeavour is set in and still moving today) and Robin Janvrin in The Queen.
Of course, there’s rather a dramatic flip-side with Allam as he’s evolved throughout the years to playing not just extremely honourable characters but also the most extreme bastards (though they are, of course, also ‘fucked-up’). In the course of just a few short years at the National Theatre, he’d played both Hitler and the considerably more noble and heroic German leader Willy Brand, playing both with utter conviction.
Reviews for the former role lauded the terrifying realism of his performance and, having seen the latter myself, I can honestly state that I’ve seldom seen anything so moving in the theatre. I was transfixed, and this was only a recording of the play being viewed years later on a computer screen. I’m going to see Uncle Vanya soon and god knows what effect he’ll have on me live!
I’ve also heard him in some stunning radio plays: I recommend the extremely moving Dr Brighton and Mr Harding and the frankly lascivious Les Liasons Dangereuses. It’s actually quite alarming that Mr Allam, whose voice is sensuous enough when in its normal register, actually has a specific ‘seduction tone.’ His vocal chords should be registered as dangerous weapons.
On top of all this, the man seems to be a genuinely wonderful human being. In interviews he often seems quite shy and anyone who’s seen his reaction to winning an Olivier Award last year (though it was by no means his first) could not fail to notice how modest he is.
In addition (if you needed, or, indeed, wanted more) he’s a real life BAMF. A theatrical god despite frequently suffering from crippling stage fright which meant that “[he] once went through an entire month of sweating and trembling,” he’s also been known to act through considerable physical pain:
'The quality of “sexy imperturbability” that one reviewer noted in his acting has its counterpart in a physical stoicism. One night, in the middle of Importance, he ruptured a calf muscle, but “altered his movements slightly, so that very few people in the audience knew anything was wrong”, and then continued, since he had no understudy, to play every performance.'
Oh, and he’s amusing: ‘A pay-to-view-celebrity-scandal website now offers what is apparantly an unauthorised photo from that play [What The Night is For] with the come-on: “Roger Allam NAKED!” Allam, who hadn’t heard about it, is shocked, disgusted and just wants to know one thing: “Where are my royalties?”
And he started acting as one of only two men in a feminist theatre group… and he plays the guitar and the piano… and he’s gorgeous… and he looks good in drag… and I should really go and lie down now… *fans self*
25) Something else by John Finnemore that I love
I’ve loved The Now Show for years and years and I also love Miranda. I’m completely in love with the writing he did for That Mitchell and Webb Look and David Mitchell’s Soapbox.
I’m seeing him ‘in the flesh’ in April and genuinely cannot wait. He’s wonderful and utterly adorable.
Ok, so I promised myself that I would write up some kind of review of this, and better to do it now that I’ve still got all the feels…
Yeah, the lemon thing would be Chess-ka and I. We were in the front row and there was a fruit bowl just beside us, so one thing led to another… :-P
Calling all members of the Cabin Crew, I have a proposal for you. I was thinking last night (as I occasionally do) and hit upon an idea of how we might show Mr Finnemore a measure of just how many fans he has and how much we appreciate his work.
With this in mind, I thought it might be an idea to send him pictures of ‘lemons by landmarks’ (it sounds like a modern art piece) all over the world, taken by the fans who live there and delivered along with a message. Or, to put the plan in the form of lists…
Yesterday, Pudu and I made yet another trip to London, this time to see John Finnemore try out some new material that may, hopefully, wend its way to his Souvenir Programme.
Before we got to the place, a very lovely pub called the Priory Tavern, we went on a hunt for a Toblerone to give to Mr…
Exciting times :-D
The first of our contributions to the Travelling Lemon book Pudu and I are doing for the magnificent Mr John Finnemore, starring… my pony!
Sparky was very bemused by what was going on, but he was very patient and allowed us to a-fix a lemon to his bridle. He got extra carrots for his trouble :)
Thank you to everyone who has got involved with the ‘travelling lemon project’- the response has been far, far greater than I’d anticipated and it just goes to show what a BRILLIANT fandom this is!
Now, since the contents of this book will plainly be wonderful, we need an equally wonderful front cover to go with it. With this in mind, it would be wonderful if those very talented graphics makers and artists out there would make one for us to use.
If you could send your covers to firstname.lastname@example.org by 30th May, we’ll gather them all together and run a poll to see which entry will be used on the front of the book. All other entries will be bound within so nothing will be left out :-D
Edit: The dimensions of the photo paper = 4 x 6 inches, so if the artwork could be about that size it would be wonderful.