We hear from award-winning writer and performer John Finnemore – creator of BBC Radio’s Cabin Pressure – about his upcoming visit to York with his new stage show, Flying Visit.
So, what actually happens in a Flying Visit?
No actual flying, sadly. It’s me and the entire cast of my sketch show John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme performing some of our favourite sketches from that show; and lots of brand new ones. Plus, I might even sing. Unless the rest of the cast win their legal battle to stop me.
What’s it like going on tour with the cast? What’s life like on the tour bus?
Oh, it’s everything you would expect from a Radio 4 show cast on tour. Typically, Lawry and I will be doing a crossword, Margaret will be Skyping her kids, Simon will be at work on his cross-stitch of hedgerow flowers… and at the back of the bus, Carrie will be in her jacuzzi full of champagne, trying to drink vodka through a trumpet.
And what made you want to come to York?
I love learning about trains, but I also love learning about Vikings. York is the only city that doesn’t make me choose.
You’re probably best known for Cabin Pressure – what gave you the idea for a sitcom about a tiny airline with only one plane?
My Dad was a pilot, so the inspiration for the show – and indeed for the smooth-talking old sky-god character played by Roger Allam – isn’t very difficult to find. Since then, I’ve written comedies about a nurse (my Mum’s job) and a railway signalman (my Grandad’s). If I ever stop writing, you’ll know I’ve run out of relatives.
You also performed in Cabin Pressure, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch as Martin. What was it like working with such a huge star?
Well, you’d have to ask him, but I think he coped with it pretty well.
Your character, Arthur the steward, is a cheerful idiot. What made you want to play him?
Idiots in sitcoms get all the best lines. Plus, I’d already been a cheerful idiot on an amateur basis for some time, so it was an exciting opportunity to take it professional.
Will Arthur be making an appearance in the show?
He certainly will, and he’s very excited about it. Mind you, he’s always very excited about everything.
And apart from him, what else can we expect from the show?
Well, for instance… we will be explaining how Pavlov’s research into conditioned reflexes in dogs was affected by Mrs Pavlova’s invention of a delicious meringue pudding; investigating what turns posh men’s trousers red; and revealing the original design brief for cats: tiny lions that live in your house. As you can see, it’s a very educational show. Bring the kids.
Catch John in Flying Visit at The Grand Opera House, 22nd May.