Thursday, 10 January 2013

Timbuktu



Happy Birling Day!

It took a while to decide whether or not to have a Birling Day episode this series. On the one hand, if there's a chance of having Geoffrey Whitehead in your sitcom again, why would you not? On the other hand, I didn't want it to feel like I'd run out of ideas - there'd have to be something different about the usual Talisker contest set-up. Also, there is an annoying lack of international rugby destinations beginning with letters from T to Y - except Twickenham, of course, but that wasn't terribly helpful, for reasons explained in the episode. For a while, this one was called Toulouse, and had to do with Carolyn setting Douglas a treasure hunt around the plane to keep him busy, but I never really believed in that. Then I came up with the idea of an impromptu Birling flight, with Douglas carrying the whisky, and Carolyn trying to steal it, and that's when I felt I had a fresh enough angle on it to justify completing the Birling Day trilogy- and gleefully rang the producer to tell him to book Geoffrey.

Even then, the plot was tricky. I experimented with having Carolyn actually succeed in her attempt, and even with Martin stealing it from both of them, but I never felt happy with any solution that didn't involve Douglas coming out on top. There are other points in the series where I examine the infallible image Douglas projects of himself - but I couldn't have him not win on Birling Day. It would be like stealing his very soul. But while I was still toying with the Carolyn stealing the Talisker from Douglas, I came up with the idea of a backwards Birling Day - flying away from the rugby, Birling getting soberer, etc; and from there the rest of the episode came together, mysterious invisible camels and all.

Notes and queries:

Yeah, I know it's unlikely Italy would get into the world cup final, let alone beat Wales in it. But it's not impossible…

I've been asked by a couple of people if Martin saying he's been at MJN for five years indicates a time jump. No, it doesn't. The show is happening in more or less real time, so if Martin joined MJN about nine months before Abu Dhabi in June 2008, that means he had his five year anniversary in late 2012.

No, I am not secretly on the pay-roll of the Talisker distillery! I picked it more or less arbitrarily, just because I liked the name, for Edinburgh; never thinking it would keep on coming back. If I'd known there would be three whole episodes in which the whole cast incessantly talk about how wonderful it is, I'd have made up a fake whisky. Similarly, I have no shares in Toblerone...

I think that's all, if I think of anything else I'll come back and edit this post.

Deleted scene: a little more of Douglas persuading Carolyn to adopt Martin's 'Fake Timbuktu' plan:

CAROLYN: No, I'm sorry, but it's quite impossible.

DOUGLAS: Well, alright. Go and tell him, then. Send him, and all his money, weaving back to Sussex. Or… you could indulge in a little harmless deception to help make an old man's dream come true.

CAROLYN: He's a horrible old man who wants to spend a huge amount of money making his wife feel silly.

DOUGLAS: I didn't say it was a nice dream.





99 comments:

  1. American Elle6:58 pm

    Wonderful episode - as usual - Mr. Finnemore!

    Getting a glimpse at your notes is like receiving a free writing lesson. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Sorry for the repetition but just Brilliant, Brilliant!

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  3. I was slightly taken aback by the new, evil genius Martin; but looking back, I realise I shouldn't have been. After five years in the same cockpit with Douglas, it was pretty much inevitable.

    I wonder: was having Benedict Cumberbatch fretting about how to get away with The Crime another "I'm Miss Marple" moment, or am I reading far too much into it?

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  4. Fabulous! Thank you so much - so many new hilarious lines to quote and also great character development!
    (Thank you also for sharing your notes...It's always fascinating to see how you visualize the dialogues.)

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  5. Fantastic again, Mr Finnemore!

    Now you've got me wondering who Verity is...perhaps Arthur's girlfriend that was alluded to in the (I believe) first Birling day episode?

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  6. Cecilia7:32 pm

    The episode was fantastic, Mr. Finnemore! I can't wait for the next one. And I agree with American Elle--seeing your notes and the process makes the episode that much more amazing! Thank you!

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  7. Julia #27:35 pm

    Oh wow, I'm in awe of how structured and clean your notes look. Please don't say this is the first draft?

    Anyway, the episode was amazing! And Douglas can actually rewrite his Hitchcock announcement - after all, this time Arthur was "The Man Who Knew Too Much"...

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  8. Mandy7:37 pm

    I'm curious if Tim Buckley was a reference to the musician or just a coincidence. Either way, my favorite Birling Day yet!

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  9. Amber7:40 pm

    Wonderful episode, Mr. Finnemore! It's really interesting to see how you plan an episode.

    Nice drawing of Mr B, too. Did you do that when you were stuck for ideas, or just as a finishing touch?

    Can't wait for Uskerty and the other episodes!

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  10. I'm always fascinated to learn a little about earlier drafts and a writer's process, so this post was especially delightful. Thank you!

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  11. Happy Birling Day! It was wonderful. I was DYING at the end. I see what you mean about Arthur being REALLY PLUGGED INTO one single thing if he wants to be.

    So proud of Martin! Bubeleh IS adaptable... eventually.

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  12. Oh, I am so happy you shared the photo of the graph/planning process. I love insight in an author's writing process, so that was a lovely treat - just as the new episode, which was hilarious and charming, as always.

    Thank you so much for doing Cabin Pressure, Mr Finnemore!

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  13. Anonymous7:57 pm

    Oh great episode John!!!
    Do you know that Ben's fans talk A LOT about him wearing hats? Therefore the line "it's not a hat, it's a crime!" :) it is very accurate!
    Waiting for more!
    greetings from Poland

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  14. Anonymous8:03 pm

    Thanks for the insight into the third Birling Day, Mr Finnemore. It's delightful to think that a show as tightly plotted and witty as CP takes such thought and care.
    You might like to know that there was a family in Bristol (yes, some people do go there, Douglas) gathered around the iPlayer like a time travelling family from the 1940's just to hear your well crafted words spoken by your fabulous cast.
    Looking forward to more and hoping that Z is not the end.

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  15. I'm in Canada and was very pleased to see this post go up just before my lunch break ended.

    I was biting my lip so hard throughout the episode that it still aches today; bravo, Mr. Finnemore.

    (Even if unintentional, I think the Talisker people should send you some complimentary whiskey. My best friend nearly picked up a bottle before Christmas, despite the fact that he does not enjoy whiskey. You have great and terrifying powers.)

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  16. Played Timbuktu around eight times so far. The depth added to Mr. Birling has made me enjoy him all the more.

    Thank you for again sharing your planning Moleskine! Beyond the gift of the episodes themselves, these have been a treasure. I pore over these and compare them to the transmitted story learning how to plot and tweak, and I can't be the only one.

    Congratulations on the exquisite launch of the new series. I can hardly contain myself in the wait for the next one, so I'll go listen to this one some more.

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  17. Anonymous8:55 pm

    Ha ha! Douglas's daughter has a name that amuses. :) Well chosen! (At least I assume Verity is his daughter?)

    It is fascinating seeing your sketchbook and plotting process. ...And speaking of fascination, I loved Arthur's line about the fastenation of seatbelts!

    ~Diane in Nebraska

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  18. Emily9:11 pm

    The new episode made me so happy I felt like I was Arthur tossing an apple while serving a dish of Surprising Rice to a Polar Bear with a complimentary Goose Smoothie on the side!
    Thankyou.

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  19. Is that grim-looking gentleman in the cravat meant to be Mr. Birling? I always thought of Mr. Birling as sort of squat and bald, but looking at that drawing, I can imagine his voice coming out of it. "I may be a fool, but I'm not a damn fool!"

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  20. I have been looking forward to this for so long and it was worth the wait i was laughing out loud all the way through even my son who doesn't usually venture away from his X-Box and sat round the radio with us but not for long as he was soon rolling around clutching his sides laughing

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  21. Anonymous9:22 pm

    Loved the episode so much. Definitely my favorite Birling Day! Thanks for look into your process.

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  22. Such writing! *swoon* I've missed Cabin Pressure.
    And the mysterious 'Verity'. Douglas' daughter? Girlfriend? If it's his daughter...does she have a name for the purpose of a 'Verity' episode? (MORE FARFETCHED THEORIES COMING SOON TO A COMMENTS SECTION NEAR YOU, SORRY EVERYONE)

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  23. Alice9:57 pm

    Loved Timbuktu! Even the title of the episode is brilliant.

    p.s. Your drawing of Mr. Birling is basically how I picture him.

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  24. Not to sound gloomy, but Cabin Pressure always comes along when I need it most! When life gets rough and I'm in real need of a good laugh, I love having something to escape into for a while. I love Cabin Pressure more than most shows on television! The writing, acting and overall spirit of the show is perfection. Thank you so much :D

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  25. Anonymous10:28 pm

    Great ep! But re the timeline:
    November 2007: Martin joins MJN

    15 March 2008: Edinburgh Six Nations rugby final - Birling Day: Arthur is 28

    March 2009: Arthur is 29

    Before March 2010: St Petersburg - Arthur is almost 30.

    March 2010: Arthur is 30

    November 2012: Martin has been with MJN for five years

    Spring 2013: Six nations rugby final- Birling Day - Timbuktu

    So the gap actually is 3 years.

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  26. Oh, planning notebook pictures, how I've missed you...

    The new ep was fantastic! Well, fantastic fantastic. And I may or may not have squeaked a little because Carl is back!! "Did any of you order an angry drunk man?" Best ever.

    I'm a little sad there isn't going to be any more of Mr Birling though...

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  27. Mr Finnemore, this was fantastic - absolutely hilarious. Thank you so much for making me laugh and grin manically for half an hour (and more!) :D

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  28. Suvisade11:25 pm

    Most definitely my favourite Birling Day episode so far! (please tell me there'll be more) :D A wonderful episode, all in all. I was still grinning this morning.

    While I would have loved Martin steal the whiskey, I feel that what ended up happening is much more in character for him. One of the things that made me like this Birling Day episode so much is that Carolyn was there the whole time. And I'm delighted to hear that things are apparently going well for her and Herc.

    Thank you for sharing your notes (it's really interesting to get to see them) and being so nice for us fans. :)

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  29. As Arthur would say ,"life with Cabin Pressure is
    BRILLIANT "
    At 30;000 feet each time I listen .Thanks

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  30. Thank you for the funniest episode of series 4 so far! ;D I loved it. No doubt my neighbours heard me laughing.

    You probably don't go to tumblr and that's most likely for the best considering the mental health of both you and the fans, but...god you should see the amount of amazing fanart people produced within hours of the new episode. :D Have you seen any fanart to date?

    Also a few random questions, in case you decide to make version 2 of the FAQ:

    How do you feel about the fact that you have so many fans abroad?
    Do fans ever give you stuff (Toblerones? Lemons? ...otters?)
    Are you aware of Cabinlock and if yes, what are your thoughts? (or other crossovers (although if you aren't maybe don't google it even though it's nothing filthy, I swear))
    Would you consider recording custom ringtones or text alerts in character (I'd pay for that!)? People do use bits and pieces of the show for those purposes.
    Do you fly a lot yourself?
    Have you been to any of the episode title destinations? (any you'd like to visit?)

    Although obviously don't answer any of that if you don't feel like it. :)

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  31. Also, I've just realised: Arthur is finally 'The Man Who Knew Too Much'! (Hitchcock fans be proud.)

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  32. Seány1:28 am

    We're getting towards the end of the alphabet, will it continue past z? Then what start back at a? I want more! Love this show and hope it never ends :)

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  33. Anonymous1:49 am

    Thank you so much for another great, hilarious episode!
    And extra special thanks because my hometown was mentioned -Ouagadougou!
    I mean, not Ouagadougou Ouagadougou. Just Ouagadougou, which stands for...

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  34. St Petersburg obviously worked wonders for Martin's self-esteem! He and Douglas colluding about the whisky was hilarious too.

    Any plans for DVD-style extras on the next CDs - out-takes or commentary?

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  35. Anonymous2:54 am

    I saw a yellow car yellow car !

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  36. Sparrow3:46 am

    We Really truly did all enjoy the newest episode of Cabin Pressure. I've sent the iPlayer link to everyone I know so they can enjoy your brilliant writing.

    Wish you could visit us over here across the pond!

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  37. Excellent episode, and thank you for sharing your notes! It's like DVD extras but for a radio sitcom, which is BRILLIANT!

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  38. ks from Illinois6:20 am

    It's so very awesome to see your creative process and go 'behind the scenes' on this blog. The ep was hysterical. I loved how impressed Douglas was with 'evil genius' Martin & the new spin on Birling Day (I'm pretty sure no one thinks you're low on ideas! Don't worry!)

    Question: Do you find Arthur's dialogue is especially difficult/easy to write since you play him?

    Thanks for sharing your story-telling skills with the world!

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  39. Caroline8:16 am

    I can see I have some catching up to do, as I've only listened 3 times so far.....

    I'll admit we had a teeny concern that the further comedy potential of Birling Day might be wearing a little thin - but no! Unlike Mr B we are not only fools, but damned fools! We are now suitably admonished.
    The total inversion of the usual scenario was.....BRILLIANT!

    And I'm so glad you (accidentally)used the name of a real whisky, as otherwise I wouldn't feel that certain frisson each time I catch sight of a Talisker label in a shop.
    Is it Wednesday again yet?

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  41. Mr. Finnemore you're a genius. Thanks for the laughs. I can't wait for next week's episode.

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  42. After a festive season of flu and being confined to bed, my prayers have been answered and the brilliant John Finnemore has made life (and Glasgow) a happier place by bringing series 4 to life. What an absolute pleasure to sit for half an hour and soak up the fun, laughter and general madness of MJN. Thank you so much John.

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  43. Like I said before great episode and finally Martin won a game against Douglas and wasn't the one who totally lost in the end!! Great plot as usual :D

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  44. SJ Howitt10:21 am

    I've always wondered how much Toblerone was paying you John!
    I hope you at least get to go on the Talisker distillery tour!

    Saff x

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  45. Genius! I could quite happily sit here and write paragraphs on why this show is awesome.

    First, I admit i'm a "Cumberbitch" and may have never have heard of CP without him. But I have fallen head over heels for CP and your fantastic writing.

    I'm also going to admit i'm a little anxious about the fact we've reached Y, and will be devastated if it goes no further but c'est la vie.

    I was at the recording of V & W (front row and everything!). I had such a fantastic day and met some lovely people that i'm still talking to now. To see it being recorded is such an experience and am so grateful for that opportunity!

    Thank you Mr Finnemore..

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  46. Thank you for showing your interesting planning process! I loved the episode, it was my favorite Birling Day so far. : ) I'm listening to it for the third time right now.

    You are BRILLIANT! Greetings from Finland.

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  47. Anonymous12:48 pm

    The backwards Birling Day idea was inspired and I am so glad you decided that Douglas just had to win.

    I laughed so many times in this episode and it is also not palling with repeated listenings. Re-listenability is a remarkable quality of CP and it is good to see this continues to apply.

    There were so many funny parts but one that no one else has mentioned yet is:

    Douglas: cabin crew prepare for landing.

    Arthut: Oh, right I...

    Douglas: too late.

    GG

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  48. Anonymous1:32 pm

    More Mr Finnemore on 4Extra - 10pm next Friday - life gets better and better. (first broadcast 2008)

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  49. Mandy (from out there)2:01 pm

    Mr Finnemore, I wonder how many copies you threw away before you came up with such a neatly written one that you can show us on your blog, hehe...

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  50. Have already listened to it twice. Thank you very much, you clever, clever boy.

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  51. The Real Emily4:20 pm

    Dear John Finnemore, my favourite part was when there were people speaking.

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  52. I see the phanton spammer has struck - but before you delete the post in question, can I draw your attention to the sheer delight of "cheer for your children to naturally adapt to the old food.?"

    I would have been delighted for my children to have naturally adapted to ANY food...

    Oh, actually logged on to say thanks muchly for the new series: you've made my recent and unexpected unemployment a whole lot cheeries!

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  53. Pipit6:16 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! Mr. Finnemore, you have made me SO VERY HAPPY! Not only did you bring the world a new Cabin Pressure but you started the series with Birling Day! I LOVE Birling Day! And the whole backward Birling Day was a stroke of sheer genius. You even got yellow car into it, which never fails to please.

    I await next week's episode with great anticipation. You really deserve a knighthood for the immense pleasure you give the world!

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  54. Oh, Mr. F! That was brilliant brilliant. And how do you do this? I find every episode funnier and funnier every time I listem to it again...
    The camel camel bit was so hilarious. And Baden baden idea. And Arthur reading the WHOLE page of a book! I hope that Cabin Pressure is like a game of Yellow Car - never ends :D

    Greetings from Poland

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  55. Anonymous6:46 pm

    I just realized you name the episodes alphabetically (wow, took me quite some time to get there...). So this is the last series? Because there isn't much to go on with after Y.

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  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  57. Linda9:05 pm

    I loved the episode, Mr Finnemore!
    Thank you for keeping me so entertained! I look forward to the rest of the new series like MJN looks forward to Birling day...

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  58. As always, brilliant. Thank you! And your handwriting is lovely.

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  59. Thank you Mr. Finnemore! That was just such a pleasure to listen to. Your writing is clever and funny, but also so full of heart.

    Great to know Carolyn and Herc are going strong (hooray!), the backwards Birling Day was excellent too, especially when I started doubting Douglas' ability to pull this one off. I have now learnt, like Martin, to never side against Douglas.

    I look forward to the next five weeks!

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  60. Thank you Mr. Finnemore! That was just such a pleasure to listen to. Your writing is clever and funny, but also so full of heart.

    Great to know Carolyn and Herc are going strong (hooray!), the backwards Birling Day was excellent too, especially when I started doubting Douglas' ability to pull this one off. I have now learnt, like Martin, to never side against Douglas.

    I look forward to the next five weeks!

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  61. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-20991719#

    France confirms Mali intervention...
    ...oh, clever you, Capitan Martin Crieff!!!
    ;-)

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  62. Just brilliant episode, Mr Finnemore! I was surprised by evil Martin, but I enjoyed it more, thanks to him.

    Greetings from Poland, by the way!

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  63. Listened to it last night ( Friday in Australia) and had to stop cooking and laugh instead!
    Wonderful stuff, thankyou.

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  64. Another fantastic episode! I was slightly worried that it wouldn't be possible for the show to improve any more, that maybe it had already hit its peak...but I was terribly wrong and I am glad of it!

    Your writing continues to improve immensely, and getting to see new sides of the characters was wonderful. Looking forward to the next episodes and your commentary on them. It's always fun to see the behind the scenes musings of creative genius!

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  65. As always, just brilliant! Or should I say brilliant brilliant?! Thank you so much for your wonderful job!
    And... How did you manage that: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/12/world/africa/mali-islamist-rebels-france.html?_r=0 ?!
    They should've really asked Douglas...

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  66. Anonymous12:18 pm

    This it he first time ever that I felt proud about my boring hometown - because it is mentioned in a CP episode.
    Love from Baden-Baden,
    J.

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  67. I was as lucky as to attend one of last year's BRILLIANT recordings, and I just, as probably lots of other people, want to thank you, for doing "what you always wanted to do". We are all very lucky you did!
    As for Timbuktu - I am very proud of Arthur, too.

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  68. Anonymous2:34 pm

    Not only do you have lovely penmanship, you're not too shabby at this whole "writing and performing an exceptionally entertaining radio program" deal. You are a thing that makes me happy. :)

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  69. With Roger/Douglas as the voiceover for travel supermarket, will MJN benefit from increased tourist business? Only 16 or so at a time but every little helps... Oops wasn't that another supermarket slogan? Must get out more

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  70. Fabulous work as always, Mr. Finnemore. I drive all my friends crazy talking about Cabin Pressure! I, of course, explain that there's a very easy solution to this. Then I thrust my season 1 CD at them and slowly convert another American.

    I've heard many a rumor that this might be the last season and I certainly hope not. However, I promise not to jump to any conclusions until I hear it from the horses mouth.

    Sorry for calling you a horse.

    Can wait for the rest of series 4! I know it will be BRILLIANT.

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  71. Horsa5:39 pm

    I do hope The Square and Compass put up a plaque to honour the fact that you worked on CP there!

    Timbuktu Timbuktu was brilliant as usual. Intrigued by Uskerty-roll on the 16th.

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  72. Lucianne7:15 pm

    Great that we were able to listen to it in Germany! Slightly hectic but very funny episode. I loved the camel camel. And the Talisker Talisker in the end! Very much looking forward for the next one!
    Greetings from Hamburg!

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  73. Caroline8:31 pm

    I'd just like to say how much I agree with The Real Emily when she says her "favourite part was when there were people speaking".

    I have spent so long listing all the bits I loved, and I realise she has said it all so succinctly!

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  74. LynneM9:58 am

    I thought Timbuktu was excellent and totally justified my recommending CB to everyone I know who isn't already aware of this brilliant series.

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  75. Anonymous3:29 pm

    It was a great episode. I liked the way the characters have learnt from past experiences - but not much! :)

    Thanks for sharing your writing process. I find that endlessly fascinating.

    You are a good egg, sir!

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  76. Eclectic Man5:53 pm

    There I was, for the last three months trying to figure out how Douglas would yet again steal the Talisker on Birling Day, and you completely turned the tables on me. Well done for another (ok, sorry) brilliant episode.

    Just a bit annoyed about the scenes I didn't get to hear recorded and which got cut. Maybe you could include them as out-takes on the CD, when it comes out? Please?

    One other request, could you do a time-lapse video of the post-it notes while you are thinking and writing your shows? (You could use it when you teach creative comedy for radio shows when you're a professor - like Armando Ianucci, or just put it on YouTube.)

    Very much looking forward to episode 2 on Wednesday.

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  77. Anonymous11:21 am

    hi, i dont know if this was mentioned anywhere before (and im too lazy to search for it) but i was wondering how mjn was organized before martin joined. was douglas the captain or was there someone else?

    eva

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  78. So very happy that Cabin Pressure is back, brilliant as ever. I listen to the episodes and revel in the quality of writing and performance as the voices ignite synesthesic characterisations. Love it. Thank you.

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  79. Anonymous5:10 am

    Hello from Ohio! This episode is brilliant brilliant! I really like the new angle on Birling day. It is also definitely nice to see Martin not lose for once lol.

    I notice on the BBC webpage the description for Cabin Pressure is "Sitcom about an airline for whom no job is too small but many, many jobs are too difficult". That certainly reminds me of one particular sketch from the souvenir program. I always wondered whether you have Martin's side job in mind when you wrote that sketch... On a related note, I'm looking forward to the new season of the souvenir program too. Thank you for doing all these awesome shows, Mr. Finnemore!

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  80. Anonymous8:40 am

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  81. You sir, are a god among men!

    Well done!

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  82. Anonymous7:05 pm

    Oh Mr F, you actually do get better and better although I thought you already were the best. Uskerty was great but I can't help noticing something rather bitter to be foreshadowed.

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  83. Lucianne7:09 pm

    Pineapplejuice! I love your work!
    Wonderful episode! But... will Martin get his ring back? What will the man she knows say about the dead sheep? Is it to be continued?
    Love from Hamburg!

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  84. Caroline7:15 pm

    Glorious!
    And what with sheep, bees, geese and trees - a lot of 'ee's I notice.

    I worry about Martin's future with MJN.....who needs pay, hey? Loyalty is all!
    Thank-you.

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  85. Uskerty's - it's just - well, brilliant!

    I do agree that there seemed to be dark forebodings about what is going to happen, though...

    And poor Douglas: what an admission to have to make about yourself: "I'm a fiftyseven year old First Officer, with three ex-wives drinking sodding pineapple juice." The chink in the armour, huh?

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  86. Sarah (The other one)9:11 am

    The Fan Art will have a field day! The imagery - a tribute to the cast that I could just see Martin up that tree, Carolyn at the foot, the rain, the sheep, the bees, a lotalotalota bees... very Pooh, and the projected image in my mind of Herc's face when he gets his Birthday present of a damp and probably mouldy stuffed sheep, and Carolyn's glee.

    I listened to this episode with my guy in Kansas City, both of us giggling. I am in England, and it brought us rather sweetly together.

    Thank you Mr Finnemore.

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  87. Well - that was amazing amazing!

    Haven't heard all of Wednesday's yet, but the sheep and bees and geese bit, even in isolation, was stunningly funny (as in feeling like you've been stunned in the diaphram due to laughing so hard).

    Just got 13 year old son hooked too.

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  90. Just listened to Uskerty. Hilariously funny, of course, but I think my favourite bit was Carolyn's horror when she realised Martin hasn't been applying for other jobs. Oddly touching, given she knows it would spell the end for MJN.

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  91. Anonymous2:22 am

    I WANT TO USE THE TANNOY!!!

    Can hardly believe we're already two episodes in. What a complete joy and delight. Thank you so so so much!

    Cheryl from California

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  92. Oooooh, the new episodes are wonderful (I'm not using the word 'brilliant' on purpose here, although of course they WERE brilliant...).

    What I especially liked about Uskerty was that it was - for the first time I think - Caroline & Martin on their own, same for Douglas and Arthur. In pairs, there is a whole different dynamic to the characters, for example Douglas seemed softer, more paternal when he's alone with Arthur, simply because his usual approach of teasing and one-upmanship is so completely lost on Arthur. Martin on the other hand seemed 'more free' if that's a word, or perhaps rather 'less subdued'; if he lets himself be ordered around by Carolyn, it still appears to be on a more voluntary basis.

    Another thing I loved was Carolyn's idea of a present for Herc, in itself (the worst possible thing she could get, what else!) but also that when she reveals it to Martin, he realises so much about her. She seems gruff and rude and disgruntled with him all the time - but then she flies to the middle of nowhere to buy such a present for the guy she clearly cares about. Makes all her grumpiness look more like a sign of endearment.

    Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much I adore this show.

    Oh, and: can you let me know how to purchases that Travelling Lemon book?

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  93. Uskerty was brilliant! I moved to Japan recently and not being able to get British TV has made me appreciate Radio on iplayer so much! I spent quite a lot of friday muttering "this is the airport speaking..." to myself and laughing!

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  94. John, thank you so very much.

    I really didn't think we were going to get a fourth series of the completely delightful Cabin Pressure, but, oh joy! Here it is - and even more superbly crafted than the first three.

    Who would have thought you'd be able to find such subtle development, to remain true to the original characters yet to move the series on? Not me, that would have seemed impossible to me, but by golly you've done it, and so well.

    Fantastic: this is my favourite ever radio sitcom. Thank you so much.

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  95. Anonymous5:30 am

    Mr. Finnemore, this episode was an absolute joy to listen to, as always.

    I was curious about the game Martin and Douglas were playing at the beginning of the episode, "Beat the Manual." It seemed pretty obvious from the scores (26 to 3) that Martin seems to have that manual practically memorized. That being said, I am now even more curious about why it took Martin seven goes to get his CPL?

    Thank you again for a wonderful start to series four and I'm excited to see what else is in store for the little air dot.

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  96. @ Anonymus - obviously, this is only a guess, but I'd say that Martin is the type of person who suffers from extreme exam anxiety. No matter how well you are prepared, in the crucial situation you just freeze, you can hardly remember your own name and how to spell it, let alone the subject at hand... That'd fit with other bits we've heard of him, in my opinion.

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  98. Aside from the hysterically funny comedy, what I think I admire most are the small three-dimensional aspects: for example, Douglas genuinely laughing at Carolyn's "The da Vinci Cod" suggestion for their word game; Martin's real concern when Douglas reveals his wife has been having an affair; Carolyn's reaction to Martin wearing his late father's ring.
    "Languid put-downs" are relatively easy to write but these touches of humanity and truth come from a master of his craft. That's you, John, and long may it continue!

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