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'Cabin Pressure' Creator John Finnemore Announces Finale

Jennifer Kuan |
November 13, 2013 | 4:15 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Benedict Cumberbatch is the voice of Captain Martin Crieff, who desperately wants to be taken seriously. He fails more often than he succeeds (CumberbabeProbs via Twitter).
Benedict Cumberbatch is the voice of Captain Martin Crieff, who desperately wants to be taken seriously. He fails more often than he succeeds (CumberbabeProbs via Twitter).

Bing bong. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. We are now making our final approach into Zurich.

"Cabin Pressure" is a BBC Radio 4 sitcom that follows the misadventures of a one-plane charter airline. Starring Stephanie Cole as plane owner Carolyn Knapp-Shappey, John Finnemore as her enthusiastic and adorably inept son Arthur, Benedict Cumberbatch as the insecure and overcompensating Captain Martin Crieff and Roger Allam as the "smooth old sky god" First Officer Douglas Richardson. Written by Finnemore, the series has aired 25 episodes in four series.

Nearly all the action is told in the flight deck of the airplane, affectionately named Gerti. Rife with one-liners, recurring jokes, scenarios that spiral out of control and a superb cast of recurring supporting characters, "Cabin Pressure" has delighted listeners since its debut in 2008.

Radio works well as the program's medium, allowing each episode to take place anywhere and feature any story imaginable. The lack of any visuals detracts nothing from the program; Cole, Cumberbatch, Allam and Finnemore created distinct voices for their characters, revealing their personalities through dialogue and tone.

Series Four aired in early 2013, and fans have been waiting for Finnemore's word on the future of the program since the last episode aired.

On his website, Finnemore officially announced Wednesday that he is in the process of writing the 26th and final episode for the series. Clocking in at 45 minutes instead of the usual 28, the episode will be called "Zurich."

This title concludes the (mostly) alphabetical sequence of episodes. In an "Infrequently Asked Questions, But Which I Imagine May Become More Frequently Asked Now" (IAQBWIIMBMFAN: the next incredibly unhelpful and possibly even more confusing acronym?), Finnemore cites the alphabet as part his reasoning to make "Zurich" the final episode. Though there are many unused letters in other languages' alphabets that Finnemore could use to continue the series, he writes, "be honest, which is more satisfying: A to Z or A to Ø?"

In the same post (I refuse to use that silly acronym again), Finnemore also clarified that the cast's busy schedules had no impact on his decision. Though they are all involved in other projects, especially Cumberbatch, who stars in BBC's "Sherlock" and has three movie releases this year alone, they continue to find ways to make the series work. Finnemore describes the cast's dedication to the program as "astonishingly generous."

Finnemore clarifies that this decision is entirely his own, and that he would rather "build towards an ending that [he feels] is satisfying" than run for too long and end on a tired and repetitive note. The final, special episode has been part of his plan for the program since Series Three.

The airdate for the "Cabin Pressure" finale has yet to be announced, but Finnemore hopes it will be early in the new year. He had originally planning on ending with another holiday special, but that went unrealized.

Reach Staff Reporter Jennifer Kuan here, and follow her on Twitter here.



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